By Andy Moss, ( 22nd June 2019 )
I tried to arrange a St Abbs dive on 11 May and had Pathfinder booked for 6 divers but as so often proved to be the case in the summer 2019, the sea was smooth during the week whilst I was locked in my cell but come the weekend, storms arrived and diving was cancelled. More than frustrating!
Anyway, towards the end of June there was another opportunity to put the plan into action. This time I had 10 takers including Catherine, one of this year’s Ocean Divers, who more than understandably wanted to do her first sea dives before an enforced summer off. Another taker was Brian from Poseidon club who I had met whilst making use of their pool night for some training earlier in the week.
Some met at Stannington to car share and others went straight to St Abbs where we met the always cheerful and colourful Paul O’Callaghan and his yellow and white catamaran, Pathfinder. It is so noticeable that apparently he was paid £500 to have it out of the harbour whilst the Avengers movie was being filmed.
The boat was quickly loaded most of the kit being winched down, the main exception being a JJ which was carried down the harbour ladder by its owner to ensure care & attention.
It quickly came to our attention that the toilet on the boat had not received the same care & attention as we were informed it was not working. I decided not to try it out and made alternative arrangements off the back of the boat.
We then set off to Anenome Gulley around the headland to the north of the harbour, a spectacular site when the conditions are good and according to Paul, the most dived site in the country. I dived with Catherine and we managed 33 minutes / 17 metres depth in quite good vis and smooth seas. That proved fortunate as we were the first pair to surface and first pair to realise that the lift on the Pathfinder had just broken and was going nowhere. Catherine masterfully, notwithstanding that this was her first sea & boat dive managed to climb in first and I followed (it was not easy). The next pair did similarly. For subsequent pairs the lift was put half down which made de-kitting / handing in & climbing in much easier if not ideal.
After lunch and some of Paul’s legendary cake, lemon I think, we headed round to Ebb Carr to the south of St Abbs and did our second dive there. Catherine and I stayed on Ebb Carr for a while before drifting off in the current towards St Abbs, it was flowing at quite a pace and after a 43 minutes dive we surfaced not far from Cathedral Rock so another thing to sign off. Getting out was easier this time Paul having fitted a hand winch to pull up the lift, making it much easier for us (if not for him).
With diving safely concluded it was back to the harbour. I bought a couple of St Abbs lifeboat superhero T shirts for my boys and took a photo of the New Asguard road sign by coffee shop. Then with cylinders filled it was off home leaving Paul with some maintenance to do (sorry).