Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Lochaline Trip

Waves Shape

This summer saw a welcome return to normal diving life with a long-anticipated trip to the Sound of Mull, postponed from last summer to this August. The seven of us experienced six thoroughly beautiful days of wreck diving courtesy of Lochaline Boat Charters.

The week started out gently with two dives on the wreck of the SS Breda near Oban, one of the trip’s shallower wrecks at about 18 metres on deck and 25m near the bottom. This mostly intact and upright-sitting wreck offered some beautiful swim-throughs in its holds as well as some spectacular damaged sections amidships.

As the week progressed we added to this with dives on the Thesis and Shuna (twice each), the Hispania, the Pelican and the Rondo, as well as a third dive on the Breda, two wall dives and a drift. Our surface intervals on board the boat were given some added colour by a lunchtime stop in Tobermory, a snack of fresh mackerel caught by the skipper and cooked on board the dive boat, and some memorable and photogenic interactions with the local wildlife.

The Thesis, Shuna, Rondo and Hispania are all throughly impressive wrecks, but of the four perhaps the final two stood out most. The position of the Rondo is unusual, resting bow down on a steep slope with the bottom at nearly 50 metres’ depth and the stern at just five. A standard dive on the Rondo therefore involves dropping quickly to your intended maximum depth and then progressing more slowly back up to the stern for the end of the dive. Throughout the dive the deck of the wreck looms upwards and below at a bewilderingly steep angle, making the whole experience feel at least as much like a wall dive as a wreck dive. Our twinset divers took the opportunity to go all the way to the bottom (48 metres’ depth at this state of the tide) while the single-cylinder divers progressed to a more modest 30 metres before working their way back up.

Every day on this trip was a good day but the final day was one of the best, beginning with the wreck of the Hispania and ending with the John Preston wall. The Hispania sits at a similar depth to the Breda and is even more intact with a large amount of superstructure to explore in addition to the holds. Unlike the Breda the wreck is tilted to starboard at angle of around twenty degrees, adding an extra layer of unreality to the experience of exploration.

The week’s final dive was an impressively varied drift which took in the debris field of the long-decayed wreck of the John Preston together with extensive stretches along both wall and sea bottom.

Visibility throughout the trip was outstanding by UK standards, hovering somewhere around 15 metres on most dives. For those of us more used to wreck diving in the Channel it was a novel experience to be able to navigate back to the shot line at the end of each dive rather than losing it entirely in the murk or bumping into it by sheer serendipity!

Getting from Bermondsey to Lochaline is not an easy business, and we’re grateful to everyone in the group who drove as well as to Teresa for organising; but the Sound of Mull has so much to recommend it that I don’t doubt we’ll be back again in years to come.

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