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2010 Shetland

Wantage Dive Club – Shetland June/July 2010 We set off early doors. I picked up Bill and Chris and set off to Birmingham airport arriving at 0430hrs, we headed to check-in. Bill had been explaining how simple it was to weigh your baggage, stand on the scales with and without your bags and compare the difference. So Chris and I were quite surprised as Bill was informed that he would have to pay £141.00 extra as he had 49kg of kit instead of 40kg. Bill paced up and down muttering I don’t believe it and looking generally un-chuffed. We got some breakfast and waited for Mike and Amanda to arrive, they were running late, we had a guessing game about what they’d be up to, most ideas not really appropriate to write up here. We boarded the prop’ plane and set off to Aberdeen.

On arrival at Aberdeen we went to check that our bags hadn’t been put on the conveyor, and guess what, some of them had, Mike, Amanda and Chris re-checked-in their bags. We had a few hours to kill, so we went for a coffee and cake. We told Bill that you had to swipe your credit card at the toilet and it weighed you in and out and charged according to load. When the gate was announced we headed round and watched as our bags were lobbed onto the conveyor belt up into a very small plane, we were expecting to see chickens being loaded! Whilst waiting we noticed how motherly Amanda was, and promptly told her that she would be known as Mother on the trip; she complained to Mike and he wisely told her we would call her it all the more if we thought she didn’t like it.

Soon we were in the air on the one-hour flight to Shetland, the sea looked stunning, we could have been flying over the Maldives. We collected our bags on arrival and handily there was a mini-bus cab waiting outside, as we squeezed everything in a Russian chap (Dimitri) asked if we had space to bring him too as he was also going to Lerwick, en-route we found out he was also going to be diving from the Karin with us. found the Karin in the harbour and loaded our stuff; a few other divers were already there. We set off to have a quick look around the town. Graham phoned to say that he had arrived (he.d actually arrived on the ferry earlier that morning and had been off exploring). John the skipper gave us a briefing on what was what, only one rule, and that is do not leave the gas on in the kitchen, else anything goes. We got our cylinders, and started adjusting the bands and setting up our kit – Bill ended up with 10s the rest of us 12s!

We headed off into town to get a couple of beers. We told Dimitri that Amanda liked to be called Mother, he laughed and said whilst nodding ahh I see, if you are good to mother, mother is good to you huh.. We chose an Italian for food and boy was it hard to order, for instance having to point to the menu asking can I have a bowl of olives? was greeted with a puzzled look and then a short while later ….ah, you want olives.. hmm. Anyway our food arrived and ranged between good and acceptable. We grabbed a bottle of wine and headed back to the boat for a chill and chin-wag, it was very light still, and we ended up going to bed about 2330. Bill was going frantic as it was passed his bedtime, Mother didn’t come and tuck us in. We got up and had porridge, etc, for breakfast (apart from me, because it’s disgusting). John had told us that we’d be diving at 10.00am, we headed out to sea to a nearby wreck called the Gwladmena but had to turn about as we had a valve swap required on Mikes twins, John soon sorted this out and we headed back for take two.

I had issues getting my suit socks on; they’d just been replaced and were smaller than the originals! Bill fell over the huge lump of concrete in the middle of the boat as we were about to go in and landed on his knees, the stride entry required care, as you had to avoid the lift, which was slightly in the way. The dive was great, a wreck sitting upright with a few bits to penetrate, 38m to the seabed, most of the dive was at 35m, and there were a few hermit crabs, butter fish, big edible crabs, but not much fish life. Bill and I did a full circuit and then explored the bow a second time as we were approaching our planned bottom time. Our total time was 57 mins, Bill was pleased with his VR3 but did bend his Suunto, as did EDITED by failing to change to Nitrox. Once back on the boat, Bill had a look at his knee, which was swollen.

We came back as John wanted to watch the football; we were all really pleased as we all love the football, so much so that we just sat on the boat and vegged out. second dive was a shallower wreck called the Pionersk. We didn’t find it at first, just lots of kelp and a few small bits of metal. Dimitri suggested we surfaced to get directions, which we did and found that we were heading in the right direction after all. The wreck appeared out of the gloom and although it was quite barren there was a lot to explore; I became particularly excited when I found some intact portholes. Another hour-long dive was logged.

Back on the boat Bill was seasick due to the swell but soon recovered after regurgitating a couple of chocolate bars. Dimitri and I both had leaking manifolds, which needed attention. Quality hire hit!

Amanda shot off to the shower like a rat out a drain-pipe, we later found she was concerned what the men might do whilst in there. We were all glad of the hot shower before a visit to the harbour chip shop for tea followed by the pub.

By the way, Bill sounds like a growling bear in his sleep.

Monday. Bill woke to find that he had blown the zip out his sleeping bag in the night; he seems to be taking over as Mark with his body and kit failures. He got up at 0630, the sane folk appeared 60-90mins later for breakfast and a cup of tea.

We successfully serviced two sets of twins and then headed out for our first dive. The Glen Isla sits on a seabed at about 42m, Bill managed to head-butt someones cylinder on the surface, (his knee was still hurting from the day before, but the cylinder injury was worse, whilch helped him take his mind off his knee), we descended to the decking at 35m and swam a full circuit around the wreck, deepest we went was 39m, Bill signalled to ascend after 20 mins, we had agreed to deco on our stages today, when we got to the surface he said we should have done another 5 mins on the bottom! A great dive, could have done with slightly more accurate depth info and more appropriate nitrox mix then we could have gone to the bottom. and Chris went in to do a scenic dive (and saw an octopus, or so they say, it was probably an old marigold), whilst they were in Bill washed his torch, and Steve polished his brass; Mother was pleased.

We came back into Lerwick for the surface interval and took a walk up to Molotov, an engineering / diving shop. Amanda bought Mike a Shetland wool willy warmer (size S), it turned out too baggy for Mike, so Amanda put her phone in it instead.

The second dive was in the Luno Khods stern section, which is broken up over a reasonably wide area. There were lots of bits of brass about. Bill and I had a good rummage, after 50 mins I signalled to go up as I was in desperate need of a wee, Bill agreed and then told me he had 9 mins of deco, during the bladder-stretching stop we saw loads of tiny nudibranchs on the kelp.

Later on that day I walked past Amanda’s cabin to hear what sounded like a space hopper deflating, Mike was in the shower at the time, how very very odd.

Chris, the boats helper told us he would cook a nice stew for lunch the next day, Amanda looked really excited and told us she would enhance the stew with her lovely dumplings, we were all quite concerned. Chris told her that thanks, but he could cook dumplings all on his own.

We went to a hotel for dinner, but it was fully booked, they kindly rang ahead to a sister hotel and booked us a table in the lounge bar. We arrived, it smelt very cheesy, but we had a nice meal. Mother said she would show us her fish, we were all quite concerned for the second time that day, then she explained she meant her fish earrings, we were all very relieved. Bill complained that beer farts were wafting from the bunks up into the cabin, he wasn’t wrong. We had our breakfast and were soon on our way for the first dive, which was on the intact part of the Luno Khods. Dimitri joined Bill and I as a three, the wreck was huge sitting on its side, the bottom about 46m and the side of the deck in 31m. There were open holds, port holes intact with glass, and various bits of ship equipment about the place, we ascended after 28 mins of bottom time to be greeted by hot spicy tomato soup once back on deck.

We headed north during the surface interval up past Lerwick, Chris served us a fantastic stew, Mother kept her dumplings under wraps.

We dived for scallops near Whelsay (about an hour sailing north of Lerwick), the pairs were Bill and Graham, Chris and me, Dimitri joined Mike and Amanda. The bottom was in 25m of water, there were lots of long-legged spider crabs (apparently called Decorator crabs), numerous Cat Shark, and loads of massive scallops, and plenty of other sea life. Chris commented after the he could hear me talking to him underwater and understand just fine.

On the way back it all kicked off, Mother instructed her helpers to assist and one of the helpers rebelled, nearly going postal. Soon it was calm again! The scallops prepared Chris, Mike and I headed to the showers (just to queue, not to go in at the same time!) we queued outside after I tried the door and convinced myself and everyone else that someone was already inside, I tried the door again a few times, in the end Mike checked the boat and said he’d seen everyone, I tried the door again and this time it opened, Chris called me a doorbell, fair enough. and I cooked the scallops in the galley – we had a good fill. We had a few drinks and then got the cake out, we had a few slices each, and then Chris arrived and cut a mega-slice off (half) the remaining cake much to Grahams disgust.

Wednesday. The first dive was back on the bow of the Luno Khods. Mike agreed to tie off the shot line so that Chris and Graham could dive in 35m. Bill and I had a great dive, this time the wreck was much more familiar, the viz was much better than the first time, probably 10m+ and the water nice and clear. We lapped her 2.5 times. Chris completed his first dive requiring mandatory deco.

We were presented with homemade soup once we surfaced. John decided we would do 3 dives today, as he wasn’t sure what the weather would allow for us on Thu.

The second dive was on the Murrayfield, we couldn’t find it, but there were huge wreck shaped rocks at the bottom of the shot, we later found out that it’s very broken up and you have to rummage between the rocks. So broken up in fact that there is nothing there, or it’s invisible. We had a good dive though – very scenic, Bill found a huge crab. third dive was back on the Pionersk, we went in near the bow section sticking out the water, and headed down to look for the wreck, we passed Graham and Chris and kept going, Bill expertly navigated to the wreck (we later discovered we were the only divers to find it). The wreck is absolutely huge, we covered similar ground to the previous visit to get our bearings, we had a good investigation of the portholes, there are a few placed were you can penetrate. We swapped to the opposite side and turned about, we came upon the processing plant, it’s huge with lots of interesting machinery, you can swim right amongst it, this wreck was getting better and better the longer you spent on her, Bill and I had a great dive.

We decided we would have a curry for our evening meal. We over head they should be crisp, not hard, that’s the secret from Chris and Amanda, later we discovered they were talking about popadoms! Grahams starter arrived whilst we were still munching on popadoms, Amanda asked him can I stick my finger in it, I like it, we think she was talking about his special sauce. Bill and I had decided that we need to fit pee-valves, a few conversations started, and we overhead Mike saying, it’s an Amazon darling, not a Brazilian, no idea who or what he was talking about. We had a nice meal, the food was good (even though they forgot some of our japatis), I think we were getting too loud, Amanda misheard something Bill said, and questioned you’re getting like Gandi now?... We came back to the boat and had a reasonably early night.

Thursday. We awoke to find that Graham had discovered that Chris is a hard-core snorer, so much so that he had only 1-2 hours sleep, not good, good news was that Chris had had a really good sleep. Graham was too tired to dive, so the plan was that Chris would dive with Mike and Amanda. We had our breakfast, and a very leisurely start, so much so that we didn’t leave the jetty until midday. headed North to Bressay, a wall that drops down to 50m. Bill and I planned to do an air dive and touch the bottom and work our way back up. Once we arrived we were told to avoid the end of the wall, as the skipper didn’t want us to go round the corner, as a result we only reached 36m. Viz was 10m+ and gin clear. There was lots of life, we found a Cat Shark that was very accommodating for photos, Bill had instructed me to take lots of pictures of him, I obliged, trying to ensure that I captured him looking like a daddy-long-legs (Bills description of when his fins are sprayed out all over the place!). I took lots of pictures, playing with the white balance and different ISO settings. We found a huge starfish.

In the afternoon some of us had a look around the Shetland Museum.

We ate at Montys Bistro, chips were overdone and so was the steak, but otherwise a pleasant meal. Bill told everyone that he’d posted 9kg back, and if he were still over at check-in then he’d put some stuff in his handbags, we knew all along he liked to dress as a lady. We discovered Amandas pet name for Mike, it wasn’t in the public domain at this point, but Nasherwas quickly adopted by all. We dived on North Bressey slopey wall again, viz was good, we saw a few ling, huge scallops, loads of hermit crabs, a couple of scorpion fish, and loads of other stuff, Mike and Amanda saw a free swimming octopus (clearly narced and unable to recognise another marigold glove). Bill and I did 66 mins, we had to do one long dive this week, could have done longer if we’d had our pee-valves!

The second dive was Dales Vow, it ranged between 15m-20m, and the skipper was hoping that we’d find some seals. The viz was good, it was kelpy at first, we didn’t see any seals, so we headed deeper to get out the kelp. We saw a few large whelks, nudibranchs, and crabs. Bill had said 30 mins max as he didn’t want to get cold, but we ended up doing 48 mins as he didn’t want to get out, this was our last dive on the trip.

We hung our stuff to dry all over Johns boat – it looked like washing day. We packed our stuff, and headed into town to grab some food and a beer. We met up with Mike and Amanda for a couple of beers and then headed back to the boat, as Mother was cooking bangers and mash for tea, and a jolly good job she did of it too. We’d noticed that Graham would lurk in the background and wait for the opportunity to hoover up any potential dropped crums, left overs or any food lying around that appeared to have no owner, so he is now known as Noo-Noo. Dimitri and Bill did the washing up, soon after Bill asked him to sign his logbook, Dimitri has a red hammer and sickle stamp, awesome!

We sat on deck and had a few beers and wine. Bill had been checking Charlies status on Dogbook throughout the week as Charlie was poorly, Julia had taken him to the vets, Bill was txting Charlie all the time.

A seal surfaced right next to the boat just as someone asked for a pen, Nasher interjected it’s not a pen you want, it’s a harpoon!. We had an in-depth alcohol fuelled discussion about feminism, and numerous other topics, the skipper joined us about midnight, and slowly people dropped away to catch Zzzs, whilst the hardcore 3 (Amanda, skipper and I) had a last drop whilst listening to Pink Floyd before going to bed at 2am. I felt rough, cheap supermarket rum is bad for you. We had a bacon sandwich and coffee from the local cafe, and then said our goodbyes to John and Chris. Our taxis arrived and we set off for Sumburgh airport, Graham hired a car to go exploring, as his ferry was not until the evening.

At the airport, we checked our baggage in, this time we were all very slightly over but the check-in staff were ok about it, Bill looked relieved, until will passenger Larnach come to the security desk blasted over the tannoy, Bill disappeared into a small room where the men in latex gloves were waiting to find out where he had hidden the 9kgs of excess baggage he had on the outward journey…

Steve Colam

Wantage Dive Club

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