One Giant Stride

This is it. Standing on the lift at the back of the boat, looking out at Gun Rocks located in the Farne Islands it was time to take the ‘Giant Stride’

The ‘Giant Stride’ I’d practiced in the pool. The ‘Giant Stride’ I’d practiced in the sheltered waters of Capenwray.
Somehow this Giant Stride into the North Sea seemed humongously ‘Giant’ as I prepared for my first dive on the Farne Islands. Gun Rocks.

Just over 12 months ago I sent a late Facebook enquiry to Sub-C divers, not realising that there are many nocturnal members, and got an immediate response! And now, with an Ocean Diver qualification under my belt I’m progressing through the Sports Diver course I am about to take a Giant Stride into the North Sea. Who ever would have thought that, after all, you can teach an old dog new tricks?

Buddy checks done, my buddy Carl was a calm and authoritative presence as I took my Giant Stride, bobbed up in the water, had a moment to acclimatise, then the thumbs down meant it was time.

5 other buddy pairs were bobbing around, descending into this beautiful secret world, to investigate hidden delights, to explore long lost treasures, to experience a side of nature that I feel privileged to be able to witness.

And here we were, surrounded by majestic fields of kelp dancing in time to the tune of the tide. Who knew kelp was so hypnotically beautiful?

And there hiding deep within, a cannon which had laid below the ocean for decades holding the secrets of history. And another. And another. So this is why this site is known as Gun Rock? These cannons, up to 40 scattered amongst the kelp fronds date back to late 17th/early 18th century. They still hold the secrets or their origin, possibly the Spanish Armada, quietly lying in their resting place hosting an abundance of sea life due to the strong currents that sweep this area.

And how on earth is that crab balancing on the top of that help? Keeping a keen eye on Carl, confidently leading me through gullies we finned along, exploring nooks and crannies. .
All too quickly time to deploy the DSMB and ascend and get back aboard the boat using the lift- far more glamorous than the beached whale entry to the Rib in Anglesey…..

Back aboard there was chatter of the wonderful dive beneath the sea. No seals came to play on that first dive, however no place in Debbie’s world for disappointment as I am filled with a sense of awe and wonder regarding the amazing, enchanting and calming world beneath the water.
For the second dive, we were hoping to experience curious seals swimming around us. However after a casual swim past they left the humans to explore rocks and gulleys, which was once again amazing. What a birthday treat I had!

After a curry and a nights restful sleep day 2. Ropes off at 9am, and under the expert gaze of our skipper from Sovereign Diving once again we set out to sea. Today the weather was not as kind: our skipper used his experience and knowledge to find the dive sites. Puffins- they really look like they should not fly, razorbills, Gannets, Guillemots, Shags and Terns- some of the seabirds seen gliding along, darting, diving, and just chilling in the sea.

Dive 3 – Big Harcar and dive 4 The Wamses, both giving the same sense of awe and wonder. And I can certainly add a drift dive to my QRB as Carl once again expertly led me through the Wamses.

What an amazingly incredible 2 days diving: my first dive trip and certainly a birthday to remember.
Crabs, lobster, starfish, dead mans fingers, butter fish, wrasse, lump sucker, cat shark, sea urchins, anemones, octopus, Wrasse, pollock, cannons, a sunken anchor were some of the treasures spotted by me and my fellow divers.

As the least experienced diver on the trip I must say I felt somewhat guilty – I did not want my buddy to feel he was babysitting and looking after me but Carl assured me this was not the case. Chris and Lorna explained that a highlight for them is seeing new divers get new experiences.

Stella, Gerry, Nick, Laura, Suzie, Paul, Pete, Thomas, Carl, Thanks for an amazing and unforgettable birthday weekend.
And the gratitude I feel to all at Sub-C for the training they have provided and the members for constantly sharing their skills, knowledge and time which has equipped me with the skills needed to be ‘a diver’.
So my small step into the world of SCUBA DIVING really has been a Giant Stride into a new and amazing world.