Farne Islands – June 2012
Accommodation: Annstead bunkhouse, www.annstead.co.uk
Skipper: Graeme Harrison, on a RIB called Moby, http://www.farne-islands-diving.co.uk/
Dive sites: Bluecaps, Harcar and Propeller
Divers: Rosslyn Peel (organiser), Emmitt Keeley, Alan Dempsy, Jackie Whiteley, Raymond Coyle, Joshna Smith, Jonny Hardy, Jamie Leyland, Davina Brown and Stephanie Broek.
Water conditions: 11oC with good visibility considering the weather.
Weather conditions: Raining, it had been raining for weeks, as well as almost too windy!
The Farne Islands, land of the seals, little did I know quite how seal-y it was going to be!
We all arrived at the bunk house late on Friday night, Emma, Ross and Alana later than the rest as they drove 10miles into Newcastle to do shopping J for us all.
Graeme the Skipper came to see us on Friday night and basically said not to hold our breath for the weekend. This was due to the wind being a bit strong, and him being worried about the sea conditions.
I had a great night’s sleep. Stephan, James and Ross did not. Anecdote.
When I was younger I was once woken by a fierce roaring. I ran into my Mum’s room and cried at her there was a Lion in the house. I realised eventually that the Lion was in fact my Granddad snoring.
Well the reason Stephan, James and Ross did not get a good night’s sleep was because Dave (whom which they shared a room) made my Granddads snoring sound like a mute kitten purring. Bloody hell it was loud!
This weekend we were diving off a RIB, this presents a different set of challenges to diving off a Hard Boat. Principally, everything is more difficult! Getting in the boat, out the boat, kitting up, not falling off and even having a wee (in the sea for the lads, pretty standard, or in a potty in a cupboard for the ladies). However RIBs are great fun, fast and stable.
That day we did 2 dives, at sites called Bluecaps and Harcar. Both were nice scenic dives, with the objective of seeing and interacting with some seals. Unfortunately most of the seals had gone fishing out at sea, so not many were seen.
However everyone enjoyed themselves, with the odd seal as well as the more usual British sea life, principally nippy, shelled, fish and planty fish.
On the way back to the shore we all enjoyed seeing the Puffins and Guillemots flying around the boat (puffins constantly look like they are about to give up and just fall into the sea). Anecdote.
Did you know that guillemots and penguins share the same evolutionary ancestry. However with penguins living in the South Pole there are no land based predators, so they gradually lost their ability to fly. Whereas guillemots need the ability to fly to keep their nest (high on cliffs) safe from northern land predators. When they are in the water they are as comfortable as penguins! Anyway, biology lesson over.
That evening we went to a pub which has a name, but I can’t remember it, it did bloody nice food. I had some lamb chops which were the thickest and most juicy I had ever had. Others dined on Steak, rabbit food, locally caught fish and other delicious things.
After dinner we all returned to the bunk house for a few (maybe more than a few) games of shithead (if you don’t know what shithead is I am sure you soon will) and a few (maybe more than a few) beers. Again Graeme warned us that the weather was not looking good for the morning, the wind was due to pick up.
However in the morning the weather was much better. Our first dive of the day was at a site called the Propeller, which is a nice wall dive with a propeller (funny that) resting in 20m. The propeller was out mark to turn around and swim back, it was quite big, shame the rest of the wreck is gone. Saw a few more seals on this dive. However the sealfest was still to come!
Dive 2 again at Harcar, but in a slightly different location at the site. We knew it was going to be good! There was at least 30 seals sitting on the island, no other dive boats, and lots of seals in the water bobbing like smelly corks.
James and I spent the whole dive (an hour!) hovering around countless seals, at one point we were surrounded by seals. At first they were a little cautious, then they nibbled our fins and by the end of the dive they were swimming up to our faces (the look at themselves in their masks), one of them bit my head (apparently it was thinking about seal sexy fun). It was really fantastic, the best dive I, as well as most of the less experienced divers, had ever had.
On the way back to the shore spirits were high, with Ross leading a chorus of SUSAC songs.
All in all a fantastic weekend, I will certainly be going back to the Farnes.