21st to 23rd August 2021 Gaelic Rose trip organised by Chris O’Donohue, in attendance was
Chris O’Donohue, Gerry Mcavoy, Paul Williamson, Nick Worthington, Gary Williams, Ian Gardner & Lee Bevan.
The arrangements had changed slightly asking us all to meet at Lochaline, As I was already touring Scotland with my family I asked if Gary & Ian would meet me at Loch Lomand whilst I changed vehicles. Gary had already collected my pre packed dive kit up a week earlier.
The arrangements where to leave our cylinders at home as the Gaelic Rose had spare cylinders we could use, therefore I text Gary to ask him just to bring my pony and leave my main cylinder at home, thinking ian and Gary would be doing the same thing… mmm “Why is your car so packed to the brim Gary?” “whose are these 15l cylinders…. ?” Ian replied. “oh, we brought ours and left yours at home Hehe but we did bring your pony” …. Oh well…
Saying goodbye to the family and squeezing into the smallest space in the back seat off we set from Loch Lomand through to Fort William to jump on the ferry then a further 35 miles drive to Lochaline.
We were allowed to board the Gaelic rose at 5pm but as with everything with Ian whom is very regimented, especially when it comes to punctuality, we arrived a day early… no… not really but we did arrive in decent time only to find Nick sat in his passenger seat of his car in the car park… “without beer in hand” mmm
Anyway, when we eventually sussed where we had to go, we ventured down this dirt track that eventually took us to the Lochaline sailing club and there were the pontoons and moored up was the Gaelic Rose. Now bear in mind we was only on board for three nights… you would have thought we had gone away for two weeks with all the kit we brought..
We hand balled the kit onto the boat with military precision, Ian must have thought he was on drills back at the fire station. but it got the job done. Once aboard We introduced ourselves and upon meeting LEE THE CHEF I asked if he had seen my email in reference to my diet requirements… “I am plant based” “Oh” Lee replied… “I thought that was next week, Il be right back” and off he popped only to return with food provisions for me… although I had brought 24 tins of beer 😊 2 x Soya milk, bananas, Vegan margarine and Kellogg’s cornflakes,… but in fairness what an excellent chef Lee was. The meals where outstanding.
Our sleeping arrangements where below deck made up of 12 bunks, 6 of bunks were divided between 3 rooms with the other six being in the main area below deck, I chose my bed in the main area and used the bunk above me for storage. However, on the first night I realised that I had chosen the bunk closest to one of the two toilets. Every time someone went to the toilet, they would bilge pump the toilet and the noise would amplify throughout the boat. first night was awful, I suppose getting use to the new surroundings, being away from home etc has a lot to do with the lack of sleep. Talk about busy traffic… Gerry went to the loo, followed by everyone then Gerry would go again and so would everyone else, It was like piccadilly station.
Once everything was unpacked on the boat, we assembled out diving kit, everyone except me had there own cylinders… I found my loan cylinder it was a rust colour with a bit of yellow 😊 but hey ho.. so I kitted up. I have to say the facilities for refills was excellent. Simply remove your regs from the cylinder and the skipper would fill your cylinders after each dive.
Our first dive was the Rondo sits against the cliff depth starts at 6-9m and drops down to the bow at 54m. The buddy pairs for this dive were Paul & Nick, Gerry & Chris and a trio Gary, Ian and Lee.
Our Trio had agreed our dive plan and we would only venture to 40m. I was really looking forward to diving the Rondo as I had been to the area before but never dived this wreck previously although I had done a lot of reading about this particular wreck. dropping in on this wreck you could see the stern almost immediately and it sat pointing up like a needle. Initially it was a little strange as we ventured deeper a sense of orientation kicks in as you explore the deck and before you know it you can be at some serious depth. We agreed to dive to 40m and work our way back up the deck of the wreck and eventually doing our safety stop on the shot. The Rondo is a spectacular dive site and one that I will visit again without hesitation. Our very own trusted Gerry was doing our dive logs and as always we deliver our dive stats but there is always one that went 0.5m deeper than everyone else lol.. (every time Ian << Must have got that from Chris Llewelyn) 😊
Our 2nd dive site was another wreck called the General Consul located at the Isle of Coll, as this was a second dive of the day this was sat in 15m depth. Once again, we dived in our same buddy pairs.
After diving the wreck the Gaelic rose head into Isle of Coll. This little island is in the middle of nowhere, it had a shop, a pub and no more than a dozen houses. The Gaelic rose moored up at the main pier and we all got off the boat and headed toward the pub which was around 15 minutes’ walk. As we approached the pub it got louder and louder, we all wondered what was going on… we were on this tiny island in the middle of nowhere and upon opening the doors to the pub there must have been 50 or 60 people dressed up as pirates, the place was rocking… So, time for a quick beer before heading back to the boat for our evening meal. After tea we decided to head back to the pub for another beer or two but on this occasion the pirates had all boarded and left the island and by about 21:30 everyone started to head back to the boat ready for bed.
The next day after breakfast we headed to the wreck of The Tapti – rather close to land with some very close rocks, the usual buddy pairs and us trio stuck together .. however upon receiving the dive brief from skipper Bob he made it very clear to drop in, move out of the way and get down immediately… well needless to say Chris OD got a few harsh words thrown at him, in fact we all did.. “move out the f***** way” “get hold of the f***** shot” “let go of the f***** shot” every day was a shouting day which made it real fun and banter… very funny indeed…
The second dive of the day was on the other side of Isle of Coll The Nevada 2 – We had spoken to local about this wreck in the pub the night before. It’s rumoured that this wreck was pillaged by the locals of the island … The NEVADA II ran aground en-route to Bathurst carrying government stores and a small amount of commercial cargo… rumours say it was full of whisky…
Whilst diving this wreck or should I say trying to find this wreck for 40 minutes there was just metals places within the kelp as it had completely collapsed, I was giving hand signals to Ian to suggest this was crap… however we stuck at it and the last 12 minutes of the dive proved to demonstrate the beauty of what was left from this wreck. some of which was spectacular.
Back aboard the Gaelic rose we head off to Tobermory where we would stay the evening.
As we head off the water was pan flat calm and you could often see the seals heads and porpoise breaching the water, we were on all the lookout for Whales as the conditions were simply spectacular. Then all of a sudden there was around 15 white sided dolphins at the bow, breaching the water and the pod also included very young dolphins, they rode the bow for a good 10 minutes before disappearing off right. Really great experience especially whilst Gary was having a napp… 😊
We moored up at Tobermory, had our evening meal before venturing into town to grab a beer. Tobermory was very busy indeed. Plenty of boats, plenty of people however the shocker of the evening came from Paul Williamson… He actually bought a round of drinks. I am advised this is very VERY rare, it does not happen often… so, I feel blessed to have been on this trip and witnessed such matters.
Our final day consisted of us doing a reef dive just round the corner from Tobermory – scallops… the brief suggested they all sat on the shelf of the cliff around 12-15m, however we had to be mindful that we were diving our last wreck that afternoon. The Hispania wrecks.
We dropped in in our usual buddy pairs & Trio and off in search of scallops… why was I even searching for scallops? I’m plant based… but I took part in feeding the team… sadly there were no scallops at 15m, we only managed to find them in and around the 27m point. I think between the 7 of us we managed to find 10 scallops.
The chef prepared the scallops and these where shared out beyond the 6…
later that day we headed to our last piece of rust – We changed buddy pairs – Gerry dived with Paul, Gary dived with Nick, Ian dived with Lee. We knew about the reputation of the water at this wreck and we decided we would fasten light strobes on he shot for each buddy pair, removing your strobe on return to the shot. We all dropped in and went down the shot and I have to say what a stunning wreck – sat at around 24 – 32m and can only be dived on slack water. The swim throughs are excellent, I am not a fan of no clear surface diving. I prefer to see where I going, but when I dropped down into the holds and I could clearly the clear water and swim throughs I ventured and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Me and Ian ventured down the sheltered side of the wreck looking at all the anemones growing on the hull. As soon as we reached the bow the current had pushed us off by about 5 meters before finning hard to get back on the deck where we found more protection, making our way back to the shot line finding our strobe to be the last, I removed the strobe and made our way back up the shot. At the 6m safety stop there was 6 of us in total on hanging on. Upon surfacing all you could hear was Bob shouting “let go of the f##### shot” so we would drift of the boat and pick us up.
That was the dive trip over, we set off back to Lochaline and unloaded the boat which incidentally to a good while to unload. once I was shoehorned into the back seat off, we set, We ended up in Glasgow for a bag of chips before heading off home.
Great trip, great company, awesome banter and Bob and Lee of the Gaelic rose was fantastic. Weather was amazing. Big thanks to Chris OD for organising.