St Abbs, 2018

In July twelve Stratford Divers travelled north to dive the iconic dive sites around St Abbs. For those not familiar with the area, St Abbs is on the East coast of Scotland, south of the Firth of Forth and less than 10 miles north of the border. I hadn’t dived here before and as a Club we haven’t dived this area for about 15 years. I had read articles on how marvellous it was and decided we should give it a whirl.

To capitalise on the long trek up the A1 to get there I had booked 4 days hard boat diving with DiveStay, a Company that not only organise the diving but the accommodation as well. This ensures that if your trip has to be cancelled due to weather then so are your digs. We were based in Eyemouth, staying B&B at The Ship, right next to the harbour where our boat was moored. Our boat, Oceanic, had a loo and lift and a very spacious deck area. The Skipper, Derek was a doughty Scotsman who nicknamed us The Munch Bunch, for reasons obvious to anyone who has been on a Stratford Dive Trip.

Who were we? Alastair, David, Hilary, Hoppo, Jon A, Miles, Paul N, Paul S, Peter T, Robert, Simon C and me, Sally.

On our first diving day we sailed north across the Firth of Forth to do 3 dives around the Isle of May and Bass Rock. The marine life we encountered was plentiful and colourful—brittle stars, sunstars, plumose anemones, dead man’s fingers, lobsters, ballan wrasse etc. A huge lion’s mane jellyfish kept Hoppo and I mesmerised for a while. The vis was very good, the water temperature at 11 degrees was chillier than expected and lower than normal apparently. On our third dive and on subsequent dives we had guillemots swimming alongside us on our safety stop, probably attracted down by our bubbles.

The scenery up top was stunning. Bass Rock, being home to a large colony of gannets was enrobed in a glistening white icing of poo. Indeed as we drove round the rock Derek advised us to stand under the wheelhouse canopy to avoid being dumped on. The smell was horrible and the noise deafening and that was just us!! (Joke). That day a pod of dolphins accompanied us on our way home for a while.

On the second day our 2 dives included hunting for the ugly and elusive Wolf Fish under the rocks at Black Carr. Thanks to Paul S our group of four did see one and I think everybody saw one or two. Alastair and I dived Anemone Gullies, a gentle drift dive amidst beautiful pinnacles of white dead man’s fingers and brittle stars. Diving more locally that day we were back in the harbour by lunch time enabling the football fans to hole up in a suitable pub to watch England beat the bejesus out of some poor foreign johnies in what I believe is called the World Cup. Could the “years of hurt” soon be over? Mais Non!

On Sunday we dived another site that I had read about—Cathedral Rock. A little bit of navigation was required to find the two arches, one atop the other, for which the dive is famed. The lighting effects looking through the arches were unusual and lobsters and dead men’s fingers lined the walls. The dive site Chevron Rocks was named for the peculiar striations in the rock. In places where the rocks met the sea bed they looked like gigantic elephants’ legs and feet.

Eyemouth is a quaint little town and still has a fully working if small fishing harbour. There are loads of pubs to keep our gang happy and enough restaurants to give us a change each night. The little village of St Abbs is about 5 miles up the road and again has a working harbour and a lifeboat station. A few of us took a trip by car after diving one day for a walkabout.

The group on the dive deck

On our last diving day, Monday, we dived Wuddy Rocks, also known as Wuddy Swimthroughs, which as the name suggests included lots of interesting passages between the rocks. After this dive we put into the harbour at St Abbs for a marvellous buffet lunch on board which The Ship, our B&B, had provided for us. The photo shows us in St Abbs Harbour in front of the Lifeboat Station. Sadly David and I had to miss the next dive, the last one of the trip, which was the Glanmire wreck. I had had a rather uplifting experience at the end of the first dive due to an unfortunate issue with my DSMB. David being my valiant buddy had clung on to me for the ride. Happily, we had been fairly shallow and no harm had come to us. For a large dark rum I will tell you all about it!

Diving done, Jon and Alastair drove home that evening but the rest of us stayed over another night and had a more leisurely drive home on the Tuesday. From my point of view it had been a thoroughly enjoyable trip, good diving, good après-diving, excellent scenery above and below the water and a really good group of members. Here’s to our next visit!

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