We managed to celebrate Ali N's birthday in with a rather ULSAC style celebration. Boozes you said? Well, it's too early for that. In fact, she was our dive manager today, I don't think we ever had a birthday dive manager known in ULSAC's history.
Rascal's Vertical drop
I would say the word 'impossible' doesn't exist in ulsac's dictionary. We managed to 'launch' rascal on a slipway with a vertical drop (!). We might want our boat officer (sorry Dave) to know beforehand, but we have literally no phone signals and don't even think about Wifi here. With us diving in spring tides and near low water, we had the entire slipway exposed from the sea. Michelle managed to tow Rascal as close as she could before falling off the slip way both sides and from behind. Apparently the owners of the dive centre were watching us all the way and having a bet whether we could make it. Of course we did! Though Rascal seems to be flooded at first, but it managed to survive. Whilst on our way to the dive sites, we saw numerous dolphins and seals swimming past us.
Dive 1 - Lampey island (south west side)
Usual three command procedure from the boaties. Ready, in neutral, go. Rolled back and followed by numerous ok signals. I dipped my head into the water for a sneaky peek, I got quite excited already as it was surprisingly clear. Visibility was about 15m, we saw lots of male cuckoo wrasse as well.
Deploying the Alis and the military diver
There's also some search and recovery mission at the surface interval as Ali G lost her reel at the beginning of the dive. The Alis went into the water with their snorkels. When we were about to call the search to an end, Ali N suddenly shouted out loud with excitement with her snorkel still in her mouth 'Found it!'. It was lying in 2-3m of water but on the verge to fall off from the cliff. We dressed Henry with a lighter weight belt and his mask and fins on. Snorkel? 'I am fine without one!' As Henry said. Off he went and duck dived for the reel. Of course, he retrieved it successfully.
Dive 2 - lochbay pinnacles
It did look a bit dark from the surface initially, but as we descended to the plateau at 10 m, the viz wasn't bad at all, though it wasn't as good as for the first dive in lampey island. There were many anemones and small critters to have a look at on the pinnacles and you may find the odd starfish on the sandy bottom next to it. Do watch out for jellyfish as Natalie nearly descended onto a gigantic one!
The legend of the midges?
Yes, Steve's legend of the midges was true. We got attacked during lunch (tea rather as it was 3pm) and whilst packing up at dusk. The communal insect spray nearly got used up within a single day. Perhaps we should have rationed the number of sprays per person per day as with the crisp packets.
We should also mention how hospitable, friendly and helpful Gordon and Aileen from Dive and Sea the Hebrides are. We're practically staying in their house as the accommodation is joined onto their abode and they pop in to see us every day to check on how we're doing. Every evening the dive manager will drop in to their dining room to take audience with Gordon who will happily spend hours drawing dive site diagrams, advising us when slack water is and generally being uber helpful. Remote places like this are not frequently written about so local knowledge is like gold dust and we're lucky to have such generous hosts. thanks Gordon and Aileen!