St Abbs – May 2010

Friday

The journey to Scotland began at 6.30am for Dave, and me (Mark), with the idea of doing a shore dive before we got on the boat in the afternoon. When we reached St Abbs harbour, we took a walk round to the entry point on the right hand side of the harbour, as we had decided to do dive around Big Green Carr we were stopped by a sign which read no divers beyond this point, we were both dumbfounded as we thought the conditions looked superb, the sun was shining, but it was quite windy. Whilst walking back to the car we were confronted by the harbour master, He told us that there would be no dive boats leaving the harbour because of the “North Easterlies” that were blowing across the sea. He pointed to a black hulled boat and said “the skipper of that boat over there might go out, he’s a head banger”. Totally dejected we went for a bacon sarnie to sooth our disappointment.

After devouring the sarnies we were determined not be beaten and went to Eyemouth to check out the Aquastars dive shop. On entering the shop we were greeted by the keeper who told us there would be no boats out today because of the “North Easterlies”, I was beginning to think that it was a disease more than a coastal weather condition. Not wanting the affliction to stop us diving we asked about the shore dive that was close by, the shop keeper then showed us a map pointing out the entry point and that it might be sheltered from the “North Easterlies”.

On arriving at the entry point to Greenends Gully we were pleasantly surprised, the sea was relatively calm. After kitting up and we clambered over a few rocks then descended into Greenends Gully. Well what an amazing dive. As we finned out seaward, once through a kelp garden we were surrounded by a shoal of Pollack, it was a sight to see as the sun was coming through the surface and shimmering on their bodies. We went down to 8-10 metres and started scanning the bottom where we found several Sea Scorpions (Taurulus Bubalis), together with many other critters:-

  • Leach’s Spider Crab (Inachus Phalangium)
  • Velvet Swimming Crab (Necora Puber),
  • Hermit Crab (Pagurus Bernhardus)
  • Spiny Squat Lobster (Galathea Strigosa)
  • Long legged Spider crab (Macropodia Rostrata)
  • Butterfish (Pholis gunnellus)

The usual suspects were present also, such as Anemones, Sunstars, Starfish, as well as a huge Common Lobster (Homarus Gammarus) which nearly grabbed Dave’s ear!!! .It was a fantastic dive and we would recommend it to everybody. We didn’t want to come out, but after 62 minutes we did with loads of air to spare. Unfortunately on exit the tide had slightly gone out, so it was a bit of a struggle over the rocks with the kit on but it was well worth it.

Once back in the car we headed back to St Abbs where we found John and a few others were already kitted up and on their way to the boat, not wanting us to miss out they waited for us to get ready. We just finished getting ready as a black hulled boat came around the corner with John shouting “come on guys” .I stood in disbelief as I realised this was the head banger’s boat. We all lowered our gear onto the boat, and we were off. The Sea was full of 2 metre swells and quite choppy, there were a few green faces as we raced over the waves. The “North Easterlies” had taken hold of us, forget the disease theory it was a plague!! We reached the dive site which was The Skells. The skipper Pete (the head banger) gave us the brief about the dive site and  one by one we back rolled into the sea. As we descended the viz was not the best but around about 18 metres it was a different story. The bottom was alight with white Plumose Anemones (Metridium Senile) and Dead Mens Fingers (Alcyonium Digitalis). During the dive we saw many different crustaceans. After a 45-minute dive we ascended back to the boat and the awaiting divers, who were all ready to head back to shore. John helped take off our fins so we could climb the side ladder to get back on board the boat which was aptly named The Skells (in honour of the skipper Pete’s favourite dive site).

Spot the Dive Boat

Spot the Dive Boat

Reflecting on the dive, I reckon it was well worth the bumpy ride to get there and back and at no time did I feel anxious, because I was surrounded by some well experienced divers who all had our safety in mind. Talking to John on the way back in, Pete the skipper was no head banger, he was one of the most experienced Skippers in the harbour, having served with the RNLI for more than 20 years. This gave me even more piece of mind.

Afterwards we all went into Coldingham for a well earned pint at The Anchor pub. We played dominoes whilst watching John and Gary eat the pickled egg jar dry! Somehow they came out on top of the winnings. Later we all enjoyed a nice meal at The Anchor. Great Night…………..

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