Members of CSAC have just returned from their bi-annual pilgrimage to Orkney. They went up with plans to dive the German High Seas Fleet that was scuttled in Scapa Flow nearly one hundred years ago as well as exploring the many wrecks and reefs around the Isles. There were also plans to push on up to Shetland but the sea refused to comply.
Sea swell notwithstanding, we enjoyed fantastic weather, even breaking out the shorts and slapping on the sunscreen on a couple of occasions! There were also chances to take in the local surroundings when we moored up on the various islands that make up Orkney. Victorian mansions, Kirkwall’s impressive cathedral, and a different pub each night
Using the MV Jean Elaine as our base, we dived fantastic wrecks such as the Karlsruhe, the SMS Cöln, and German submarine UB-116. On the wildlife front we encountered massive crabs, lobsters. diving gannets, a cheeky seal, and plenty of dazzling cone jellyfish on ascent. We also enjoyed nature's bounty, pulling up mature scallops from the sea bed and enjoying them raw on deck as well as with chilli, lime and more than a dash of Pernod in an incredible bouillabaisse created by our very own Rick Ayrton.
The final day included a highlight dive drifting from the blockship Tabarka to the nearby Gobernador Bories. The intent was to perform a "Grand National" dive, making use of the fast moving current to take us across five different wrecks. After having to pull ourselves along just to get into the first ship, however, we figured two out of five wasn't so bad!
With a team of 10 divers, aged 16 to 60, this was quite possibly our most diverse group yet. There was something for everyone - with most dives well within the reach of Sports Divers and a couple of early starts for the more advanced tech divers to enjoy some longer bottom times and deeper depths, the highlight of which was an epic 20m of visibility on the James Barrie, some 40m down.
We may not have made it all the way North but still had an amazing week's diving, courtesy of organiser Pete Cittern and Andy & Danny of the Jean Elaine. And anyway, we're headed to Shetland direct in 2020!