Scapa trip 26/5/12
After much interest shown for this possible trip way back in june 2011, the foundations were cast & very slowly it started to come together.
After contacting various dive operators in Orkney, it was decided that Emily Turton from Radiant Queen charters was the one to go with, some operators didn’t even have the decency to reply!!
Emily can provide a complete accommodation & dive package in Stromness, she has a 5 bedroom + snorers room house only 60 mtrs from the boat.
After much discussion with an Orkney resident of 40 odd years it was decided that late May or early September was the best time for decent weather. The date was set for Saturday 26th may to 2nd June. There were too many interested parties so it was on a first come first serve basis. Within a week we had filled all 12 places & deposits paid.
Emily was very informative & patient even when our trip Organiser (Niz) asked her endless questions, only for him to find out if he had actually read the email attachments that Emily had sent all the questions we’re answered there………. Start the trips stupidity baton rolling!!
We had agreed that the best way to go was by vehicle to Scrabster, take the MV Hamnavoe to Stromness .
As the date neared there were a few shocked responses as the depart time from Loanhead was to be 05:00 Sharp!!
All the kit was loaded in Niz’s van on Friday afternoon. He was starting to panic as Rolly had not arrived & the van was nearly full. He had received a text earlier saying “I have sh*tloads of stuff” he wasn’t joking!!
Malcolm & Brian had agreed to take their people carriers to carry the rest of the passengers & clothing bags.
Last minute details were checked, double & treble checked. Everyone were reminded that photographic ID was required for the ferry.
We met at the pool at 0445 all bleary eyed only to find one of the party had forgotten his ID, ………..pass the baton!!
After a call to his son to hurry back with it, he finally arrived after a detour to Asda for croissants!! No rush!!
We finally left at 0515 with Niz starting to look a bit stressed, he had his timings down to a fine art & we had 278 miles to get to the ferry.
Due to the recent hot sunny weather we had had in Loanhead, a couple of people arrived in shorts for the journey north.
One of the party looked like he should have been a German tourist in Spain with knee high shorts & socks!
We had decided to stop at Evanton truck stop for breakfast, & Niz was deemed to lead the drive as he had programmed the sat nav to get us there.
The traffic was very light with a couple of tractors & lorries holding us up occasionally. One of the groups cars was overheating so he felt he had to go faster to cool it down & decided to overtake everyone on solid white lines & chevrons! & disappeared into the distance!
On arrival at the truckstop it was noted that one vehicle was missing………. Had he broken down? No he had messed up & was sitting outside the Co-op in Evanton a mile away! A few scared faces appeared from that vehicle after the recent journey! After a refreshment of full breakfasts & coffee we topped up with fuel & set off. Niz now realised that we were ahead of schedule & reduced the speed to a leisurely pace.
Enjoying the sunshine & 24 degree heat the fantastic Highland scenery was taken in. We arrived in Scrabster and after joining the queue we arrived at the ticket office ready to hand over our ID & dangerous goods form. Usual North of Scotland attitude prevailed & the form wasn’t even mentioned!!! We lined up as instructed & waited in the sunshine.
Beep beep, ready to go!! We drove to the boat & were asked if we had any dangerous goods, Niz reached for the form & was told ” aye no need”!!
A few shandies consumed on the ferry in the sunshine & you can feel the excitement growing in the group as a hump back whale had been spotted in Scapa Flow in recent days.
On arrival in Stromness we made our way to The Radiant Queen were we were met by Emily, only 60 mtrs from the ferry.
Unpacked the very full van & set up the kit ready for Sunday morning. “Baton” passed over…….. Oh dear I think I’ve left my under suit at home!! £210 lighter he’s ready to go.
On the whole a extremely well laid out & organised boat. Even to the stage where once you have a seat your kit is refilled in situ so no messing about moving cylinders. Emily has self admitted elements of OCD and is extremely keen to keep wet areas wet, dry areas dry & the boat spick & span. After sorting the kit out she took us across the road to the accommodation.
OCD kicks in again as shoes must be removed before entering. A well laid out 3 story building with 6 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms,large livingroom with plasma TV,IPod dock & DVD player, Large kitchen with dining area for 12.
First night Dinner in The Ferry Inn in front of the house, good food good value & a few drinks to finish off. It’s been a long hot day,time for a restful sleep.
A quick look out the window, flat calm & not a cloud in the sky.Everyone fed & watered with toast & coffee, across the road to the boat in the sweltering 20 degree heat……..are you sure we’re in Orkney!! Once settled & given a safety briefing by Emily we’re sailing out of Stromness harbour heading for “The Flow”. Our sites being various ships scuttled by the German high command to save them falling into enemy hands on 21st June 1919 After a very detailed & informative briefing we kitted up with the help of Sarah the best crew member on the boat! 😉 a native of New Zealand who is a used to making wedding dresses but has taken a change in career path. We are all getting used to her asking if we want our cylinders filled with “Ear” (air) or 32! She likes to ask “Cave” (Kev) for some “chips”. (crisps)
SMS Dresden, Dresden II class light cruiser, launched in 1918, displacement of 5531 tons, She lies in 34 mtrs of water on her port side. Once back on the boat with the help of Sarah & the god send of a lift platform huge pint
mugs of tea & coffee with biscuits awaited. After the efficient crew member Sarah sorting out & refilling our bottles, We had a couple of “baton” moments…… Forgetting to untie your cylinder before standing up! Falling off the bench with full kit on?!
SMS Karlsruhe, Konigsberg II class light cruiser. Launched in 1916 sunk at 1550 on 21st June displacing 5354 tons
She lies in 26 mtrs on her starboard side. On the menu tonight a superb meal of Chilli & Rice thanks to Marc & Julie.
Another beautiful day with calm seas. Once again, a superb & detailed briefing from Emily prior to kitting up. 1st dive SMS Coln Dresden class II light cruiser. Launched in 1918 displacing 5531 tons She lies in 35 mtrs on her starboard side.
F2 Escort vessel Built in 1936 displacing 790 tons. Dinner tonight courtesy of Mo, a superb Cabonara.
Again another cracking day with a slight wind.
Another visit to the superb Coln
V83 Torpedo -Boat Destroyer & adjoining salvage barge. Launched in 1916 Displacing 909 tons. An unfortunate neck seal tear rendered Marc to dig out the spare suit, along with Brian getting wet again meant we had to visit Scapa Scuba where 2 suits were left for overnight repair.
Excitement grew as a Minke whale was spotted by a couple of the group. A very shallow cold uninteresting dive!!
After a hot shower & scrub up we had been invited to Niz’s Dad’s (Bashir) for dinner. We arrived to drinks & a spectacular view of Scapa Flow & the sun was still shining. We feasted on lasagne & chicken & ham pie ( the best ever tasted) was commented on. After some members taking a gas break! We tucked into pavlova & cheesecake all made
by Megan (Bashir’s wife), after more drinks & some eye watering stories we retired to our beds.
30/5/12 Bendy Wednesday
We decided to take Wednesday as a rest/sight seeing day. A slightly cooler change to the weather by about 10 degrees!!
Our first stop Skara Brae, a Neolithic village discovered after a storm uncovered it in 1850. It was inhabited between 3200 -2200 BC & has been preserved lovingly since. We then headed for The Standing Stones of Stenness a stone circle with a diameter of 44mtrs dating back to 3100bc, it is suggested the ring was a worship/ meeting place.
From then it was onto Kirkwall, the main town on the Orkney Islands for a “Mince Roll”, A very emotional return to Niz’s school days in Orkney.
After some time exploring the local sights & spending some hard earned cash it was onto the Churchill barriers & the Italian Chapel, a tin hut converted by italian POW’s in 1943 who were working on building the Churchill barriers to prevent enemy U Boats access into the safe anchorage of Scapa Flow. The last port of call was the Highland Park Distillery described as “the best whisky in the world”. We had a very informative tour of the distillery with a wee dram to finish off. After a final tour of the north coast of Scapa Flow we arrived back in Stromness. A very discreet Rolly let slip it was his Birthday today so we felt it was only right to celebrate it with a few shandies? A real “baton” moment……. From a female member of the group…..walking down the road,”Oh look there’s a van like Niz’s.”………..Yes it is Niz’s van!!!
Karen woke up this morning with a sore ear so decided to play it safe & give the diving a miss. On arrival at the Radiant Queen the repaired suits were waiting. A cool but sunny morning awaits.
SMS Brummer Bremse class light cruiser. Displacing 4308 tons launched in 1915
Gobernador Bories 2332 ton Chillean steam ship sunk as a block ship to prevent sub access through Burra Sound
Only able to dive at slack water due to the horrendous currents that blast through this channel. Lovely shallow scenic dive with lots of life, huge free swimming 5 ft Congor, Nudi brancs, large lobsters & a superb swim thru the engin room & hull.
A classic “Baton” moment when someone dragged 2 shot buoys down with them!! After a battle with the MV Hamnavoe we lost & followed the ferry home to Stromness for an early finish in light rain.
Dinner tonight Spaghetti Bolognese courtesy of Niz.
Woke up to blue skies but more wind. The group decided to do a split group dive this morning, 6 divers went down to the
battleship Krownprince Willhelm & the rest chose a return dive to SMS Dresden. The battle ship is upside down embedded fairly deep into the silt at 37 mtrs. The main 12.5 inch gun is visible under an overhang. SMS Dresden, another superb dive on the cruiser, the remaining 5 divers returned with smiles from ear to ear after finding the huge rudder & bow crest plate.
Another “Baton” moment. Somebody forgot his weight belt & then spent 10 minutes hunting for his mask…………. It was hanging of his first stage behind him, a very helpfull crew member offered to tell him where it was but was unanimously decided not to but to laugh at him instead! A return visit to the Gobenader bories after we spotted a huge congor yesterday, A bit more of a current this time, still a great dive with plenty of life to take in. The final dive meant “The Baton” had to be dunked into “The Flow”. It was attached to some kit for a undersea photograph only to find out both submerged
cameras had flat batteries! On return to Stromness the kit was packed up & the van reloaded ready for the journey
south in the morning.
After a soothing pint at the ferry inn beside some folk musicians we made our way back to the accommodation ready for local steak pie & “chippy” chips with a sample of local mince & potato “Patties”.
Over all a very enjoyable & successful club trip, made even better with the help of The Radiant Queen, Skipper Emily & her very detailed briefings & impromptu sketches & of course Sarah, the crew member, & her super mugs of tea & coffee.
After collecting an order of local steak we headed for the ferry home, A flat calm crossing again took us back to Scrabster & the long journey home.
One vehicle has a problem……. A dodgy turbo! A bit slower progress this time…… Thank god said the passengers! 😉
A quick lunch stop in Aviemore & we were on our way again. Arrived home to some happy faces & some superb memories. Roll on next year!!