Picture of By Mark Lewis

By Mark Lewis

3rd July 2023

Planned and booked in July 2022, our plan was to visit the Sound of Mull aboard MV Honeydew to dive some of the popular and less dived sites in and out of the Sound. A special adventure that would span the longest days of the year, midsummer being a good 1h27m longer than our home town of Swindon. Although reported by myself, as I was not diving, many of the dive logs and photos are from the divers on the trip. Ports of call were planned as Lochaline, Tobermory and Coll. A selection of both wreck and wall sites are planned on the itinerary to cater to all tastes and qualifications, together with a little scallop hunting as an amuse bouche one evening. Wednesday is Midsummer, so maybe a night dive in sunlit skies!

Saturday 17th June 2023

Time to make haste. Twelve Seahorse divers had eagerly been packing their bags to join MV Honeydew this afternoon for a week on the Sound of Mull. Arriving at Oban late this afternoon, unfortunately the temperatures were dropping and various forecasts of rain were reported. Arguably perhaps, ideal diving conditions, especially as winds remain minimal and flat calm seas are projected. 

With WhatsApp being our friend and an 8h30m road journey ahead, it was clear that some divers had left earlier in the day. Nonetheless, all arrived at Dunstaffnage Marina in good time. It’s a good hike from the car park to the deeper pontoon berth, luckily plenty of trollies were available. All kit on board, luggage and copious quantities of alcoholic beverage, it was going to be a cracking week. For me; no diving this week due to a medical complaint but a happy demeanour as Boat Bitch. 

Dunstaffnage Marina does have a bar/restaurant on site called the Wide Mouthed Frog, but we were unsure whether it was open. Other than a drive into Oban itself, there’s the Oyster Inn some 3 miles away, which means that Sarah will prepare a meal on this arrival Saturday night. 

Life On Board

Life on board Honeydew is a relaxed affair and tucking into Saturday’s lasagne with a bottle of plonk, it was time for everyone to catch up with each other and welcome two non-club divers to the fold; Jamie and Gordon. Sarah then went through an outline plan of the week ahead, our crossing to Coll at risk due to increasing winds and changeable direction. Nonetheless there are options, which will unfold. Safety briefing complete, all divers acknowledging the fire precautions and rules post the  recent catastrophic news from Egypt recently. 

Relaxing in the Common Room
Relaxing in the Common Room

There are six, twin berth cabins on Honeydew, all midships below the dive deck. Each cabin comes with a small sink with hot and cold potable water with ample space for storage. Downstairs too is one shower. Upstairs there is the common room (with beer fridge and TV), galley, tumble dryer, unisex toilet, combined unisex toilet and shower room, access to the bridge and of course, the dive deck.

Divers on the Dive Deck
Divers on the Dive Deck

The dive deck has stations for 12 divers with amble room beneath the benches for kit. The deck is covered with rubber matting to mitigate slipping and tripping hazards. Air is included in the price, though Nitrox is extra. Access to the water is a giant stride through a starboard gate and diver retrieval is via a diver lift on the same side.

Daily Itinerary
Daily Itinerary

Food is served three times a day, one a self service light breakfast of cereal, toast, eggs and hot drinks. A three course hot lunch is served between the first and second dive with another three course dinner early evening. Hot drinks are served immediately after each dive on the dive deck and divers are free to help themselves to more drinks, biscuits and fruit throughout the day. This is a full board tariff with everything included except Nitrox and any soft or alcoholic drinks divers may wish to bring.

Every evening, Sarah will post tomorrow’s daily itinerary. Anything from dive briefing times, ropes off times, dive sites, meal times, arrival times and menu. Pretty much all you need. 

Sunday 18th June 2023

SS Breda

It was a relatively relaxing start to the day. A dive briefing before ropes off today as the SS Breda lays only 20 minutes or so from the marina. Pretty much kit up straight away and be ready to plunge. Weather was a calm and overcast day, the forecast of light rain holding off. 

Dunstaffnage Marina View
Dunstaffnage Marina View
Clouds And Sunrays Over the Breda
Clouds And Sunrays Over the Breda

The SS Breda is probably the most popular dived site in the Mull; to me with a likeness of the Thistlegorm and as popular as the Kyarra. Today’s dive is a check dive for all divers, the first of two visits to the Breda this trip. While most divers would complete their check dives on the exterior of the vessel, Pete and Jamie had other ideas. Their dive plan included a reel and an objective to penetrate the vessel into a hold with a latter that Pete thought he could exit one side of the ship, a visit to the spare prop inside at the stern and a rummage around the silt in the cargo holds. Unfortunately Mark Horton’s drysuit did not live up to the name; cold and sodden he was the first diver back on board with thermals in the tumble dryer.

This afternoon’s dive was planned as a wall, but I think we changed that to be a wall and wreck! That wreck was to be the SV John Preston. A lovely shallow dive to a maximum depth of 19m to a wreck of Welsh slate on a scallop bed. 

SV John Preston

SV John Preston
Painting of the SV John Preston, date and copyright unknown. Copied from Wrecksite.EU

The sailing vessel John Preston was a 116 ton wooden schooner, built in 1855 and registered at Caernarfon. Her dimensions were length 73.3′ x 19.5′ x 11.7′. She sailed her final voyage from Port Dinorwic in North Wales with a crew of five under Captain Jones, bound for Fraserburgh with a cargo of slate. She was riding out a force 10 gale from the south west on 2nd December 1882 when her anchor cable snapped and she was blown up the Sound from Scallastle Bay. She was stranded at Rubha Dearg near Lochaline, leaving only her topmasts visible above water, and became a total loss although her crew were saved. 

All divers thoroughly enjoyed this dive. A few scallops were bagged, though Ossie complained that he could not find the wreck. “Did you see the slates?” someone questioned? “Yes.” replied Ossie. “Well, that’s the wreck!” he was jokingly told. 

Tobermory

amuse bouche and aperitif on board before roast chicken Sunday dinner!
Catching up on today's dives before Sunday roast!

Our arrival into Tobermory was on time, this to be our first of three nights here. As soon as Honeydew was made fast, it was a quick hike to the renowned Mishnish for a Guinness or two before back on board for alfresco amuse bouche and aperitif on board before roast chicken Sunday dinner!

Monday 19th June 2023

SS Aurania

This morning we dive the SS Aurania, dive log by Tom Ingram.

“With a weather window of opportunity and everyone keen to try diving some more of the places less visited, we plotted a course for the wreck of the SS Aurania [+1918], a British ocean liner which is lying close to shore in some 26 metres of water, on the very exposed north west coast of Mull.

“Being a wreck that Sarah doesn’t visit very often added to the excitement for a real feel of adventure, well for me anyway, and after the briefing it was clear that the wreck was very broken up and finding all its remains wouldn’t be as easy at the other classic sound of mull wrecks, which sounded like a challenge for us all! There were however supposed to be two extremely large boilers to find, but their location wasn’t as straightforward it sounds, as Ozzie will tell you!

“Going in once again with my fantastic dive buddies Gordon and Sarah, we made a free decent into the swaying rich dark kelp forest.  As we swam west away from shore through the mesmerising kelp,  we began to see the broken remains of the Aurania. It was great fun rummaging around and peering into the wreckage with my touch looking for not just wreck remains but all the creatures that make it home.  There were striped flatworms, huge edible crabs, numerous nudibranchs, a lovely 6 inch sea lemon, and lots of pottery sitting on the seabed around the wreck’s remains.

“We continued over the sea floor looking to try and get a glimpse of the elusive boilers but as time was running out Sarah had to leave myself and Gordon to head back up to the boat, which turned out to be so unfortunate for her as within 15 metres of where we separated a huge shadow appeared and to myselfs and Gordon’s delight the two huge boilers were looming over us and , they were the biggest I’ve seen!
We then spent the last 10 minutes circling the boilers which were being guarded by a lobster the size of a small car, this dude was mean looking.

“It was gutting to have to leave but our air was running out and it was time to head for the surface, through the jellyfish gauntlet. A really superb dive for both the wreck and the sea life! Magic!

Broken crockery pieced together to read "The Cunard Steamship Company".
Small fragments of various crockery was found on the wreck.

“The thing I love as we all gather back on the boat after a great dive like that is everyone has a smile on there face and a story to tell of a there own experience. Jamie had the most impressive story as he managed to find another two boilers which made 4 in total, which was more than be said for poor Ozzie who suffered the boats banter as he failed to find anything! Sorry Oz love you!”

Post dive nibbles were serviced of homemade flapjacks and lunch followed soon afterwards, a full Scottish breakfast. Or probably better known as brunch. A cardiologist’s nightmare of Lorne sausage, black pudding, haggis, bacon, sausages, hash browns, fried egg, tomatoes, mushrooms and beans. Then something as a vegetarian option. All meat eating divers are prescribed a double dose of statins tonight!

Sarah hands out her homemade flapjacks.
A devine Scottish breakfast. Extra statins tonight boys!

Auliston Point

This afternoon’s dive is to Auliston Point. A pick your depth wall dive to between 12m to 26m. A few snaps from Ossie and a video piece from Pete of the juvenile octopus he spotted at the silty seabed. And if you’re reading this and lost a Mares BCD weight pouch, it has been recovered and now sitting in the weight box aboard Honeydew. Back to Tobermory for our second port of call and it’s curry night! A quick dash to the Mishnish for some while Pete and Chris decide on a distillery tour

Diver DSMB up at Auliston Point

Tobermory

You’ve guessed it, we’re back at Tobermory and off to the Mishnish again and with Guinness in hand, talks of the weather over the next couple of days ensued, discussion turned to wrecks in the Mull, Coll and Tiree. One wreck that was unknown to many was the Spanish Galleon SV San Juan De Sicilia [+1588]. A galleon of the Armada that sheltered in Tobermory Bay in Oct 1588. According to sources, she carried pay chests of the Spanish army which was to have invaded England. When departing Tobermory bay, the ship was damaged by an explosion and sank 300 yds off what is now the New Pier. https://bit.ly/46rHY09

Tonight is Curry Night! The consensus to eat outside in the evening sunshine while Gordon shows off his war wounds, forgetting to duck while exiting the lounge door.

Tuesday 20th June

This morning, the marina here in Tobermory is awash with moon jellyfish and if tomorrow’s the longest day, does that mean tonight is the shortest night? Nonetheless, today’s itinerary has changed. The weather has drawn in, with gusting winds that Sarah seems to think will scuttle the transit to Coll this afternoon. With discussions made with the skipper last night, we will do two dives today.

Moon jellyfish within the Tobermory marina.

The first to the SS Pelican in the sheltered waters to the west of Calve Island and then we will make a trip north to spend the night in Mallaig. En-route we will dive the Bo Faskadale pinnacle and buzz the fishing vessel Annie Melling en-route as a potential dive site for a future trip. 

SS Pelican

We have no dive log of the Pelican, though here a little history; a newspaper article of the era from the British Newspaper Archive.

Standing of the SS Pelican : “At the height of the gale yesterday morning the SS Pelican, belonging to Mr MacBrayne, and which was moored in Tobermory, broke from her moorings and stranded at high water on the local Island of Calve, which landlocks the harbour of Tobermory. As the tide receded the Pelican took a gradual list to starboard, slipped from the rocks, and is now totally submerged. The only thing on board was a quantity of bunker coal. Every effort has been put forth by Mr MacBrayne’s Tobermory agent. The steamers Landa and Fingal of the West Highland fleet, visited the scene of the wreck yesterday, but had to leave owing to the hazardous position in which the Pelican lay. It is feared she will become a total loss. The Pelican in her day was considered one of the Atlantic greyhounds. She was built in Cork in 1850, and was of 638 tons.” – Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette – Saturday 07 December 1895

FV Annie Melling

Sitting at 50m to 55m, FV Annie Melling (PN61) was an ex-armed trawler from WWI and sank after being in collision with the Fleetwood registered steam trawler Clotilde on 11th August 1922. Captain Turner returned to the sinking vessel to save the ship’s cat.

FV Annie Melling PN61
Annie Melling Sounder at 54.3m

Bo Faskadale Pinnacle

Located pretty much to the north of Achnaha and to the south of the island of Eigg, Bo Faskadale is one of the large pinnacles in the area. Widely regarded as one of the best scenic and wall dives in Scotland, the walls plummet to depths of some 50 metres. While the recreational divers would spend their dives in the shallow and lighter depths, Pete, Jamie and Artur would try and dive to the seabed. With the pinnacle breaking the water at low spring tides, there was some allusion that there would be a wreck down there. 

This morning’s weather, albeit overcast, was flat calm and ideal waters for a dive here. No wreck was found by the wreckies, though the photographers found ample squishy stuff.

“Day three of six of our Honeydew Adventure Charters liveaboard charter and dive six complete. After leaving Tobermory and a dive on the Pelican wreck post breakfast, this afternoon’s dive was to the Bo Faskadale pinnacle, outside of the Sound of Mull and in a north easterly direction past Ardnamurchan Point; the furthermost point on the British mainland. Just breaching the surface in low springs, the pinnacle drops to some +50m. While most remained in the shallower depths, three divers opted to descend the full depth to 51m to a sandy/shingle bottom with some scallops. Visibility between 5m to 12m at various depths, temperatures between 12degC and 13degC. Photos courtesy of Tom Ingram’s cutting room while he wasn’t looking. We are presently en-route to Mallaig where we shall spend the night. Tomorrow is midsummer longest day and winds mandate we will not make Coll as expected. So it’s back to Tobermory for our third evening this week.” – Facebook Post

Dive Report by Tom Ingram

Pardon the pun, but an off the chart wall dive at Bo Faskadale, one of the most rated pinnacle dives in the uk due to it’s isolated location lying just north of the most western part of the uk. Rising up from 50metres to just under the surface. Thanks to my buddies Sarah Chan and Gordon Simpson for a outstanding dive.

It all started with a whisper of a magical place where deep currents collide and updewellings bring nutrient rich water to create an environment for a underwater explosion of life, where ‘squish’ was definitely the name of the game!

As we past the most easterly spot on the UK mainland we set course for this magic pinnacle called Bo Faskadale, which sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings, and is rated as one of the best pinnacle dives in the UK due to its isolated position and it being surrounded by deep water.

The moment our dive started I was in total amazement of the amount of life covering the sheer walls. There were sponges, dead man’s fingers, so many different types of sea anemones, all packed in so tightly not an inch was wasted, and I recorded 7 different species of nudibranchs on just one dive! They were everywhere!

For me this dive was an incredible experience and I hope to do it again one day! Water temperature was 14 degrees, max depth 22 metres and 60 minutes dive time.

Overnight At Mallaig

This evening we arrived into the fishing port of Mallaig. Mallaig is a picturesque port village located on the west coast of Scotland, specifically in the Lochaber area. It sits on the shores of the Sound of Sleat, opposite the Isle of Skye. Mallaig is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, charming harbor, and its connections to the nearby islands. 

Fun fact; Mallaig is the western terminus of the famous West Highland Railway line, which is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The route, known as the “Hogwarts Express” in the Harry Potter films, offers breathtaking views of rugged mountains, lochs, and picturesque landscapes.

This evening all divers enjoyed an Italian themed dinner of Bruschetta, Lasagna and Tiramisu on board after which, the majority made the excursion to the Chlachain Inn where potential changes to this morning’s dive plans were muted. With my Navionics app in hand and the Wrecksite website as my aid, I discovered an interesting wreck. An unnamed barge sunk in 2001 under tow by the tug Akela, which was carrying a load of stone, two dumper trucks and a decompression chamber. Sheltered from Eigg island and the forecasted westerly winds, at 36m in length and width of 9m, she rises some 4m though possibly inverted laying between 31m and 35m with no scour. An interesting wreck for sure but perhaps not for this trip. The other option was the scenic Oberon Bank instead of the planned Elizabeth Point?

Back to Honeydew and while some divers retired to the land of slumber, others demolished a bottle of a rather delicious Tobermory 12 year old single malt while joined by the crew with discussions of the best top 10 wrecks of the world.

Wednesday 21st June 2023

Perhaps not the most scenic photo, but an excellent summer solstice morning in Mallaig on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland. Sunrise was 04.28am and sunset was 22.22pm that evening. While sunrise and sunset was 04.49am and 21.28pm in Swindon, an additional 1h27m of daylight up in Scotland! This morning’s dive will indeed be the Oberon Bank and this afternoon, the anticipated Hispania.

Oberon Bank, Sound of Arisaig

The Diver Guide to North West Scotland describes the Oberon Bank (particularly the east side) as being one of the best dive sites in Scotland. Exposed to strong winds and strong currents, requires experienced divers. Looking very much like a submarine or loaf of bread, she lays alone on the seabed between 15m and 50m with some (as skipper Rowan says) magnificent cavern like overhangs. Another interesting dive.

Oberon Bank is a submarine looking rock ridge of about 3/4 of a mile long laying midway between the island of Eigg and Arisaig. It reaches to within 18m of the surface at one point, the ridge running north to south. The north end descends steadily to 55m while the south end drops more steeply to 62m. The top of the bank is a fairly distinct rocky ridge with depths around 20m. To the west, the ridge gradually deepens in a series of bedrock steps with shingle and sand in between. These steps descend beyond 34m to the seabed around 55m. The east side of the bank provides one of the one of the most rewarding dives in Scottish waters. From the ridge, there is a slope of rocky buttresses to a fairly broad ledge and edge at about 30m. 

Over this edge there is a vertical and sometimes overhanging rock wall which is charted to dropping to 84m. This wall is covered with feathery hydroids, colourful anemones and other feathered stars and other life. At 60m there is an overhang that slopes under the cliff at about 45 degrees, apparently into a cave? It is said this cave has only been penetrated to 3m with no sign of a back wall. 

A new site to Honeydew Adventure Charters, divers similarly report a scoured top with rounded boulders, various gullies and cracks with starfish and nudibranchs. No soft corals, though sandy outcrops full of scallops and langoustines. More to read about Oberon Bank from this 2003 research document from Seasearch. https://rb.gy/ylqkn

SS Hispania

The SS Hispania was a steamship that met a tragic end in the Sound of Mull, a body of water off the western coast of Scotland. The shipwreck of the SS Hispania holds a fascinating history and is a popular destination for divers and maritime enthusiasts.

The SS Hispania was built in 1900 by the shipbuilding company W. Denny & Brothers in Dumbarton, Scotland. It was a passenger and cargo vessel, measuring approximately 90 meters in length. The ship primarily operated in the waters of the West Coast of Scotland and the Irish Sea, serving various ports and communities along the route.

On 3rd December 1954, the SS Hispania set sail from Belfast, Northern Ireland, bound for the port of Liverpool, England. It was carrying a cargo of coal and had a small crew on board. The weather conditions that day were challenging, with strong winds and rough seas, making navigation treacherous. As the ship approached the Sound of Mull, it encountered a severe storm. The combination of high winds, heavy swells, and poor visibility proved to be too much for the vessel. The SS Hispania lost control and ran aground on a rocky reef known as Gunna Mor, near the entrance to the Sound of Mull. The impact caused significant damage to the ship, leading to rapid flooding. The crew attempted to launch lifeboats, but the rough sea conditions and the steep angle of the ship made it extremely difficult. Ultimately, the decision was made to abandon the ship, and all crew members managed to escape safely. Word of the shipwreck spread quickly, and the nearby communities mobilised to provide assistance. The Tobermory Lifeboat Station, located on the Isle of Mull, launched its lifeboats to aid in the rescue efforts. Despite the challenging conditions, the lifeboats managed to rescue the entire crew from the SS Hispania.

Over time, the wreck of the SS Hispania became a popular dive site due to its accessibility and the relatively shallow depth at which it rests. The wreck lies in approximately 25 meters of water, allowing divers to explore the remains of the ship and witness the marine life that has made it their habitat. The wreck of the SS Hispania holds a unique appeal for divers due to its well-preserved state. The ship sits upright on the seabed, with its superstructure still visible. Divers can explore the various sections of the ship, including the bow, the engine room, and the cargo holds. Marine life, such as kelp forests, anemones, and various species of fish, has thrived around the wreck, creating a vibrant underwater ecosystem.

Apart from its popularity among divers, the SS Hispania wreck also holds historical significance. The shipwreck serves as a tangible reminder of the maritime heritage of the area and the perils faced by seafarers in the past. It stands as a testament to the power of the sea and the resilience of those who navigate its waters. Efforts have been made to preserve and protect the wreck of the SS Hispania. The site is designated as a Historic Marine Protected Area, ensuring that it is managed responsibly and that its ecological and historical value is safeguarded for future generations. Divers are encouraged to explore the wreck responsibly, respecting the marine environment and adhering to best practices for wreck diving.

Although a continuous current on the wreck, all divers reported a spectacular dive on this Hispania. Visibility was reported a good 10m in places and temperature around 13degC. Diver and photographer Tom enjoying a different aspect of photography than squidge as asked that tomorrow we return again to the Hispania as he has some shots he would like to set. 

Tobermory

This evening we are back to Tobermory for our third and final time. Dinner tonight is baked Camembert, BBQ Pulled Pork and Scratchings followed by a surprise Pudding.  Shopping for a replacement of the Tobermory 12 year old that was sunk the previous night, a final visit to the Mishnish, an apt opportunity for an updated group photo for social media and shopping for a wreckie brekkie. More on that tomorrow! 

From left to right, Pob, Chris, Bill, Tom, Ossie, Dave, Mark Horton, Pete, Artur (back), Gordon (front), Jamie, Rohan, Isla and Sarah. Photo by Mark lewis.

Thursday 22nd June 2023

Today is our penultimate day. With Tom’s insistence overnight that he would like to revisit the Hispania to stage some shots, a bespoke itinerary has been created just for him. As with any given day, there are normally two dives. One reason is diver surface interval though the other more logistical, is filling cylinders between dives. 

While the original plan was to dive the Calve Island wall and then the Shuna, the Hispania has also been added to the itinerary for Tom. What this means is that divers will have a choice of Calve Island or the Shuna as dive one, then all divers plunging onto the Hispania again in the afternoon. 

So today is Tom’s Day! And while he and the squishies head for the Calve Island wall, the other tin tops effect a coup of the Honeydew galley for what they call, a “Wreckie Brekkie”, another smorgasbord of Scottish culinary delights with a second cardiologist warning of the trip of a double dose of statins that evening!

Wreckie Brekkie

Wreckie Brekkie cooked by Pete for himself, Artur, Jamie, me and Pob. With the Mull Big Four wrecks of the Shuna and Hispania today plus the Rondo and Breda tomorrow, a hearty way to finish off with trip!

Tom's Day - By Tom Ingram

After an already spanking week of a fantastic mix of wreck and reef diving, Thursday turned out to be a very special day. Not only was the weather glorious and flat calm but the lovely Sarah, Rohan, Isla and Mark made it ‘Tom’s Day’ much to my delight.

The plan was to fit 3 dives into the day, two wreck dives which would be the Shuna and the Hispania and a wall dive on Calve Island. Unfortunately each of us had to pick just two of them as the surface interval wasn’t enough in between to do all three. My choice was easy as being a lover of all things squishy, l went for the wall dive on Calve Island and after the day before’s awesome dive on the Hispania, myself Sarah and Gordon had a planned photographic shoot around the stern.

So Calve wall was our first dive of the day it is just outside Tobermory and is swept by the strong tides at the top of the sound which makes the perfect environment for so much life to thrive! It starts at 5 metres and descends to 90 metres deep.

Much to my surprise a lot of the wreckies on the boat decided to do Calve wall also! Dave Hall in fact was so excited to see squish he wouldn’t let me out of his sight until he saw a nudibranch. It didn’t take long to spot one and with a handshake and a big grin, Dave was off on his dive and a happy man.

As we gently drifted along the wall. Myself, Sarah and Gordon were not disappointed as the ‘squish’ on offer was everywhere. My highlight of the dive was a very rare Facelina annulicornis nudibranch which was about 40cm long; a great find. We also had scorpion fish, a huge Dahlia anemone, beautiful white cluster anemones, red fingers, lots of sponges, sea squirts and many more. Fantastic dive! Water temp 13 degrees / max depth 24 metres / dive time 56 minutes.

The uncommon Facelina annulicornis nudibranch.
Closeup of the Dahlia anemone.

After our first dive the wreckies went in on the Shuna and reported a superb dive which was followed by another incredible lunch cooked by Sarah.

After the previous days dive on the Hispania and the fact that everyone had such a good dive we decided that we had to go back! For myself, Gordon and Sarah, a plan was made to set up an underwater photo shoot around the stern and the bow as these are classic spots for some pictures! Which I was really excited about!

Sarah Chan exiting the rudder and prop at the lower stern of the Hispania.

Unfortunately as we descended the shot line the current was once again running quite fast and the visibility was less than the previous day. Nevertheless we managed a few shots around the stern before the strength of the current pushed us back to the shelter of the starboard side. We made our way up to the bow to catch our breath where a few more photos were taken but it wasn’t easy. We then headed for the deck area where we dropped into the holds of the ship for a look around and to get out of the tide. Before we new it, our time was up again on another classic Scottish wreck. Water temp 13 degrees, max depth 25 metres and dive time 45 minutes.

Tom’s Day delivered on all counts and a day I will remember forever!!

Lochaline

This evening we were staying at Lochaline and those who may recall, the club dived Mull from Lochaline in 2018. A lovely setting, though very little in the way of on shore activities. I remember staying overnight here last summer aboard Honeydew with all local hostelries closed. The Lochaline Hotel was closed (I assume under reconstruction) and the Social Club only opened on a Thursday. But hoorah! Today is a Thursday!

As soon as we were tied up to the pontoon, some of the crew and divers decided it was an ample opportunity to take a plunge in what was, the last of the sunny skies for this adventure. Speedos were donned and half a dozen crew and divers made a cold water plunge into the waters of the marina. 

It was a warm and cloud free evening. Dinner was Katsu Curry; al fresco on the dive deck, followed by a rather delicious lime, raspberry and cream dessert. As the sun dropped over the horizon, the group split, half venturing the midge ridden road  to the local social club for a beer or two while the others remained onboard, others settled down to another bottle of 12 year old Tobermory and Bruce Willis’ 1998 blockbuster, Armageddon.

Dave photograph's a snail and sends to Tom to enquire whether it's a nudibranch?

Friday 23rd June 2023

In contrast to yesterday evening, this morning we woke to the torrential rain. Although the winds were still favourable, the forecast rain had arrived and while some are still in slumber, others are frantically pulling in soaked thermals that were previously drying outside in last night’s gorgeous sunshine; now sodden and destined for the tumble dryer! Thus it’s our last day and the itinerary is the last of the “Mull Four”, SS Rondo. A pick your depth wreck to 52m or so, then back to the SS Breda and onward to Dunstaffnage Marina for our last night.

SS Rondo

Stranded Steamer Badly Holed : The 3000 ton Norwegian cargo steamer Rondo which ran ashore on the Green Island, Sound of Mull at the weekend remains hard and fast on the reef with her propeller out of the water. She is reported to be badly holed and unlikely to be refloated for a fortnight. The Greenock tug Chieftain, which arrived at the scene on Sunday, returned to Oban today to await instructions. The Fleetwood trawler Daily Herald, which left Oban this morning to stand by the Rondo returned to Oban two hours later with a member of the crew who had taken seriously ill. – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 28 January 1935.
Photo of the SS Rondo of the era. Grounded on Dearg Sgeir, Eileanan Glasa, Sound Of Mull

Heard of the saying “Plan the Dive – Dive the Wreck – Wreck the Plan”? Well, this is a prime example! At the eleventh hour, Dave had decided that he would sit this one out as he was not feeling that well. Some of us put that down to the eight pints of Guinness he submerged at the social club last night with 6 whisky chasers, which he firmly denies! Ossie was supposed to be buddied with Mark and Dave. Being that Mark was on a single 12 and Ossie wanted to dive deeper, Pete volunteered that when Mark ascends to the surface during the dive, he will pick up Ossie for the rest of the dive. All agreed, there was a subtle twist as Mark was queued and jumping behind Pete and Jamie as first divers. Thus, Ossie was left high and dry. A quick change of buddy pairing and now Ossie will dive with Sarah, Gordon and Tom, Artur with Pob and Chris with Bill. As “boat bitch” for the week, it was as quick a reorganisation I could make, being Pob, Artur, Bill and Chris were already at the gate too. As Dave joined us on the dive deck, he was just in time to witness Sarah saying to Ossie “Buddy Check?”, leaving Dave and I in a fit of giggles like silly schoolgirls! If you know, you know!

Each diver and buddy pair had their own objectives. Some were there for the scenery and squidgy photography while others wanted to add a deep dive to their logs, be it technical or recreational. The beauty of the Rondo is that the stern is in 9 metres and the bows are in 51 metres. The wreck is lying very steeply down a near vertical cliff with the deck at an angle of 70 degrees. The vessel length is about 80 metres. The stern is encrusted with plumose anemones at 9 metres with rudder in kelp. This means all divers can pick their maximum depth and ascend slowly up the carcass , studying or photographing the wreck.

MV Honeydew Midsummer Adventure

Pete and Jamie did their own thing, though Pete didn’t find Ossie in the end, being the plans were changed when he was diving. Artur and Pob went deep, Artur with a little accelerated deco. Chris and Bill All divers back on board were elated. Joys of a dark by clear 12m visibility.

SS Breda

When we arrived at site, the bow shot line buoy was missing. It seems that as a popular recreational fishing location, that the kayaks tie up to the buoy and this morning, it had gone missing. As a final dive, Pete and Jamie had their own objectives and Tom too, ditching his camera for some wreck action. Mark Horton had already hung is suit up. With Pete and Jamie ready to Sarah asked if they would accompany her to tie a new shot. Happy to do so, the three plunged first and followed by the other divers.

Dunstaffnage Marina

We arrived back in the marina around 15.00pm as planned. Ample time for everyone to disassemble kit and transport back to cars and vans. Overnight bags would remain in the cabins. Dinner tonight was cheese and pate, chicken and haggis topped with a whisky cream with a sticky toffee pudding to follow. Lots of love and thanks from the club to Sarah and the crew for a cracking week, a thank you toast from Bill to me for organising the week and then everyone settling down to our third film of the week, quaffing whatever alcohol was left in the beer fridge.

Saturday 24th June 2023

All good things must come to and end and today was the day. As we arrived some seven days ago, divers would be making their own way home in different directions and different timings. For me and Pete, we opted for a later departure as we were in no real rush. Grabbing a mug of tea from the galley, Sarah had made scrambled egg on toast for Artur and asking if I fancied anything, a bacon and egg bap was the order of the morning. Still in slumber, it was a very happy Peter who too enjoyed a bap and mug of tea while still in bed!

Questions have already been muted as to a potential trip next year. Club members should keep an eye out on the [buddies] mailing list and social media.