Videos of the Northern Ireland Trip of 2018
These video are linked to my YouTube account. They will also be available from the the narrative of the trip that will be published later. In the videos you will see a great deal of Gareth, not because he is photogenic, but more for the fact that he was my buddy for all the dives.
It is good to note the visibility on the videos. They were taken with a Paralenze without any assisted lighting and have not been doctored in any way. i myself was very surprised at the quality of the water, but saying that it is the Atlantic Ocean and not Guildenburgh.
I hope you enjoy them and please do not be too critical, I am not professional. For better quality photographs of the proceedings you must see Gareths collection, it contains some stunning pictures, especially of me.
Drift Dive off of Port Stewart
SS Templemore off Ballycastle
Kelp and Current – Rathlin Island
North Pinnacle – Rathlin Island
SS Castle Eden – Off the Donegal Coast
Ireland – Guinness, Food & Diving
Disappointingly, only four of us made the trip to Northern Ireland. Keith, Bob, Robin, and myself. The positive is that we had some excellent diving, and some relief from the heat that had become quite oppressive at home.
Saturday morning we took the ferry from Liverpool to Belfast. Travelling two to a car. This is not a short crossing, and we improved the return trip by booking a four man cabin – for a very reasonable fee.
The drive to Ballycastle is under the hour once you get off the Ferry. We arrived in time for a bite in one of the local restaurants prior to retiring for the evening.
There was another group from London at the accommodation, who where spending the weekend diving Rathlin Island. With local divers we shared the boat with them the following day.
Sunday was the first day of our diving. The first dive of the day being the Lochgary, 30m to the deck a large interesting wreck off Rathlin Island. The waters around Rathlin Island are very tidal, as we where to experience during the week.
The Lochgary, was featured in a wreck tour . The wreck floundered after running aground on the 20th January 1942. She was a small west Island cruise ship, touring the scenic parts of the west coast of Scotland. When the war arrived she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy, she took part in operation Dynamo (Dunkirk). After being refitted she was again requisitioned for war duty, this time by the ministry of war transport.
Robin and I managed to do the complete wreck, the shot was located towards the bow. We started by heading to the stern at the start of the dive. Looping around the gun mount at the collapsed stern, we then returned to the bow, and then a look at the huge chain in the forward hold. The Lochgary is a 2nd World War casualty, the holds carried weapons. A huge chain was later placed in the hold by the Navy to stop any of the weapons being recovered.
Although the wreck is complete, all the upper superstructure has been swept off the wreck over the years.
We moored in Rathlin harbour and used the pub for a late breakfast/brunch.
The afternoon was a scenic dive on the North side of Rathlin, two options, a shallower dive and a wall dive. The wall dive was excellent, other than the fact we cut it short, my buddy being lower on gas than planned. Bob and Keith did the shallower dive.
As we got off the boat we where pointed to one of the local pubs, where it was suggested we could meet for a drink in an hour or so. Bob said he would cook, so after a quick shower and ensuring we had our cylinders ready for filling, the rest of us retired to the recommended Pub to test the local Guinness. The London group joined us along with the local divers. We finally left when Bob appeared complains that the dinner was in danger of spoiling.
Monday we dived two Scenic sites.
The first a sloping site on the south of Rathlin, this was more of a screaming drift dive, as you got deeper, the tide picked up markedly. Robin and I felt discretion was the better part of valour and moved shallower earlier than planned, to slow down the pace of the drift. Bob and Keith did the same!
The second the more sheltered site of the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. This is a nice easy dive, with plenty of life for me as a photographer, a nice site. It is sheltered and has the advantage of little effect by the tide.
Tuesday the wind had picked up significantly, and we decided on a day off visiting Derry. Derry was of particularly of interest to Keith, this being a part of Ireland he had spent time in during ‘The Troubles’. There are plenty of tourist spots local to where we where staying. Including the Giants Causeway, a site I hoped to dive during the week – which we didn’t, so an opportunity on the next visit. A lot of the area was used for the Game of Thrones series, with tours for those interested.
Wednesday we where back on the Lochgary for the morning dive. This was a little more interesting than the Sunday dive, we where late on site. By the time we started our return up the Shotline the tide was running, luckily, we all had jon lines. making the decompression stops more comfortable.
The Lochgary is one of those sites you can dive multiple times, and still find something new or of interest. Looking at my logbook, this was my 5 visit to the wreck.
We lunched in a cafe on the seafront in Ballycastle prior to re-boarding the boat for our second dive.
The afternoon dive was a small wreck in Ballycastle bay. A good photogenic site. Plenty of life, boilers, propellor and parts of the hull. The dive times dictated by remain gas rather than lack of things to see, or lack of slack!
Thursday we moved up the coast to Portstewart about a 30 minute drive. Diving from the small harbour. The morning dive being the Skerries, Seal Bay. Not deep, but plenty to look at with a small current taking you along the wall. Another photogenic site. My dive was shorter than planned, my buddy lost me, although he would say I lost him :).
We returned to the harbour for a surface interval, and found a small cafe overlooking the harbour for our lunch.
The afternoon dive was Harbour bay. Initially it looked a bit like a Brighton drift dive. However, the seabed was covered in life, hermit crabs, gobies, crabs and shy dogfish. Again dive time was dictated by available gas, after our slightly shortened morning dive, we had a reasonable period drifting across the bottom photographing and harassing the sealife.]
Friday we again drove West to Portstewart. The dive site was much further west, just off Malin Head. Another wreck featured in a wreck tour. The Castle Eden, a late casualty of the fist world war sunk on the 4 March 1918. She was carrying coal and timber from Glasgow to Loch Swilly. She was initially torpedoed by U110, but refused to sink, possibly the timber keeping her afloat ,the U boat fired 20 rounds into her from their 4” gun. 10 days later U110 was sunk off the Northern Irish coast after being depth charged then shelled by destroyers when she was forced to surface.
This was the best dive of the week. Another fairly complete wreck. A lot of the wreck between the bow and the stern has been flattened over the years. Around the Boilers there was plenty of wreckage. The shot was midship, on the boilers. Some on the boat managed the stern, boilers and the bow. Most only managed the bow and the boilers. Robin and I spent our time around the boilers and the related wreckage. Robin had set the parameters for our weeks diving, with a limit of 10 minutes of decompression to be completed on any dive. On this dive he pushed it out to 15 minutes of decompression.
I would love to visit this wreck again, stay longer and try and do both the stern and bow sections.
We again returned to the harbour for a short surface interval. The last dive of the week was again on the Skerries, a pleasant way to finish off the week. Having used their gas on the first dive, and wishing to finish on a high, Keith and Bob skipped this dive, returning to the accommodation to pack in preparation for the return trip on Saturday morning.]
The accommodation was the ‘House’ in Ballycastle. Owned by Aquaholics, our diving charter. The house is a large property with good bedrooms, a large kitchen and lounge. The front door is also the access through to the rear. Making it secure. Plenty of room for kit fettling in the rear garden. There is also a compressor and gas mixing facilities. A very comfortable base of operations.
Alternate nights we cooked in the well appointed kitchen. The other evenings we ate out in a selection of very nice restaurants and pubs in Ballycastle.
We used two different boats during the week, both large catamarans, with lifts and plenty of kitting up space.