All posts by Emily Morgan

Scilly Isles, July 2015

After a year of planning, our club trip to the Scilly Isles began with the long drive from London to Penzance, with the Isles of Scilly another three hour ferry trip beyond. The process for loading dive kit and luggage sits somewhere between a jumble sale and a rugby match. As we’re a mostly organised club, we ended up with only my car on the wrong side of the chain that separated a deranged forklift truck from humanity.

The crossing was fairly calm, but the building swell soon revealed who had remembered their seasickness tablets. Olivia planned to revise for her Sports Diver exam – notes in one hand, sick bag in the other. At around question 18, the revision ended suddenly.

Hugh Town, on the island of St Mary’s, is beautiful. Our accommodation overlooked the neck of land connecting the “Garrison” to the main island. It wasn’t long before the lure of pasties, ice cream and a pub took hold..

We needed to be at the harbour for 8:30 the next morning to load our dive bags and tanks onto the dive boat, Moonshadow. There was a mad scramble to get everything on the boat, which was a little small for 12 divers, and the jumble sale theme returned as we climbed over a pile of tanks and kit, each of us trying to assemble a working set.

Throughout the week, we got to explore the different islands from the water. The diving was a little chilly (14oC) but fine for those in drysuits. The dive sites included wrecks, scenic reef dives and seals! Most of our dives were accompanied by Pollock, and every wall was covered in colourful jewel anemones. The visibility varied throughout the week, following the weather. Some days we could see the surface from 20m; on others, it was a respectable 5m. The wrecks were a mix of new and old, the Cita being the most intact.  The Colossus is the most historic – wrecked in 1798, it comes complete with a guide-book to navigate around the historic site!

Diving with seals in the Scillies
Diving with seals in the Scillies

Jolene the skipper was great. She knew every nook and cranny of the islands and always found us somewhere to dive, whatever the weather. On one trip, she brought her children on board. They were more interested in Sarah B’s fluorescent three-eyed monster hat than us. Thankfully (for us), the hat found a permanent home in the Scillies.

We dined out most evenings, with the odd take away and meal in cooked at the accommodation. On the last night, we had an end-of-trip meal at one of our favourite restaurants. We each recounted our most memorable moments from the trip, which was a lovely way to round off the week.

Swanage, May 2015

Phil, who’s midway through his sports diver training, gets the first dives of the season under his belt in Swanage.

It’s Friday evening , I have checked and re-checked my diving kit and packed a good bobble hat and outer coat to wear on board after each dive, as UK diving can be a bracing experience. I’m happy everything is in place, including the cake and apple pies I promised my Best Caravan buddies that I’d bring with me  to complement all their goodies. So with the Blues Bros on the CD, like Jake Elwood, I have my sun glasses on, a full tank of fuel, a pack of Mr Kipling’s and I’m on mission from the sea gods of Swanage.

Having arrived at The Palm Beach Hotel where the bell boy took care of my kit, known locally as the Swanage Bay caravan park, I headed straight for the bright lights of the bar and immediately had to clear my ears at the cackling, high pitch screams of the resident karaoke singers. Following a swift drink, the tinitus in my ears soon became my cue to hit the sack and look forward to early morning breakfast with my best caravan buddies.

The first dive under the pier left me with mixed emotions as visiblility was almost zero and buoyancy an issue. The second dive drifting off the Fleur de Lys left me emotionally scared, trying to deploy my first DSMB in open water – still all part of the enjoyment Trevor told me afterwards. I was down but not beaten. A few beers and a good night’s most welcome sleep saw me up and at ‘em the next morning for a dive with Boggie, to see the WW2 Valentine tanks, followed by an afternoon drift dive. WHAT A GREAT DAY! Forget the buoyancey issues of yesterday – I was down there with the fishes, crabs, eels and a good mile and a bit drifting at what seemed like break neck speeds, “2 miles per hour, kid” Boggie informed me later.

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Back on board, the sun was shining and Swanage was my Hawaii, minus the coconuts and splendid cocktails! However, a fresh strawberry ice cream and a stroll with my diving buddies completed a marvellous weekends diving with the Argonauts. Roll on the Scillies in July!

Mull, Scotland, 2014

Emily finds diving off the west coast of Scotland just as beautiful as she remembers it.

It’s five years since I last dived off Mull. Then I was a relatively inexperienced sports diver in a wetsuit. These days I’m a slightly more experienced dive leader, although less hardy in the comfort of a dry suit. I have fantastic memories of that first trip to Mull, and it didn’t disappoint this time round.

We were blessed with the most perfect weather all week – sunshine and flat calm seas – which only added to the beauty of the area, both above and below the water. Some of us made the most of the weather and a free day the first day by climbing Ben More – the highest mountain on Mull. A first mountain for some, with stunning views of the island and across to Skye and the mainland. Although some knees didn’t recover from the descent all week…

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We had a fantastic week’s diving a mix of wrecks and walls. There was so much life, including squat lobster, crabs, conger eels, wrasse, goby, cod, butterfish, sponges, fan worms, and lots anemones including jewel and plumose anemones.

Some of the highlights included:

  • the Breda – with its hull covered in plumose anemones
  • the Shuna – silty but atmospheric with lots of life
  • the Rondo – pick your depth – 5m or 50!
  • the Thessis with swim throughs and lots of pretty sponges.

My absolute favourite though was the Hispania which we were able to dive twice. It is completely covered with pink, peach and cream anemones. It looks like a pink furry wreck – and is very pretty. There is a lot of life on it – we managed to spot scorpionfish and lots of nudibranchs, as well as pollock, cuckoo wrasse and a small eel – amongst others. This is probably one of my favourite wreck dives ever!

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We were lucky enough to have catering at our accommodation from the wonderful Jules and Jem, who cooked up delicious meals every evening, and made us great lunches for the boat. We also had time to explore the pretty town of Tobermory and the beautiful island of Mull with it sea eagles, seals, mountains and beaches.

All in all, an excellent week diving with great friends in a fabulous location!

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