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Dive Adventure - S.S Meldon & Corryvreckan

Our first trip this year was over the weekend 11th May, and although we hadn't had any sightings of sharks we were keen to head out to explore the islands and have a dive. The South Queensferry Sub-Aqua Club were joined by a New Zealand visitor who was up for a bit of adventure too. With a dodgy forecast we had to divert from Coll and seek some shelter! Thankfully the area we operate in is a archipelago of islands so even in bad weather we can still get out! We had planned to dive the S.S. Tapti but instead we chose to go for the S.S Meldon. [caption id="attachment_1023" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]South Queensferry SAC South Queensferry SAC[/caption] Prior to the boat trip we started off exploring some of the local sea lochs which are surrounded by the stunning Scottish mountains. We showed our kiwi visitor the unique fjord environment. The visibility was a good 10-12m and there was lots of marine life including sea cucumbers, peacock worms, lots of colourful sunstars, and even cool moon jellies in the water column. Wayne commented it was very like New Zealand's Fiordland which has a similar environment! [caption id="attachment_1052" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Moon Jellyfish in Loch Leven Moon Jellyfish in Loch Leven[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1053" align="aligncenter" width="664"]Soft Coral Soft Coral[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1017" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Stevie & Wayne Stevie & Wayne[/caption] On the Saturday we loaded the boat up and headed out of Loch Feochan. The forecast wasn't so great so we sought shelter on the south coast of Mull. The cliffs along the south coast of Mull are really impressive, and with the rain, the waterfalls were in full flow. We spotted deer in the distance as they clambered along the base of the cliffs and the area feels like jurassic park, although we didn't spot any velociraptors! Making our way past Frank Lockwoods Island the weather really picked up until we reached the shelter of Loch Buie and despite the weather was actually fairly pleasant. We were looking for the shipwreck of the S.S Meldon which sits on the western side. This was a 1572 tonne steamship which had a cargo of coal and struck a mine in the Firth of Lorne on 3rd March 1917. The mines were laid by the German Uboat U-78 a few weeks earlier and the master was forced to run for the loch after his ship had struck the mine. She was grounded and all the crew reached shore safely but the ship became a total loss. Interestingly the ship actually points out to sea, not bow to shore as you would expect a ship to lie that has went aground. The stern post was known to stick out of the water and with caution (for our boat) we gingerly made our way up and down the coast. Someone shouted up that they spotted a seal however that actually turned out to be an otter fishing on the wreck! Apart from it being really cool to spot an otter in such a location, it actually swam over and perched itself on top of the rudder post marking the wreck for us!!!! It actually didn't look best pleased - I think it was used to having the place to itself! [caption id="attachment_1018" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Otter on the SS Meldon Otter on the SS Meldon[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1034" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Stern Post of the SS Meldon Stern Post of the SS Meldon[/caption] The wreck site was very pretty and a shallow dive, there was lots of seaweed cover on the wreck and some decent shoals of Pollock patrolling the wreck. The stern was the nicest area with a large propellor and rudder  (interestingly sitting hard to port and jammed in the prop blade). The top of the hull plates were covered in the soft coral, along with colourful sponges and smaller anemones. [caption id="attachment_1019" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Stern of the S.S Meldon Stern of the S.S Meldon[/caption] The wreck also had a number of swim-throughs both on the port and starboard sides, likely to be parts of the hull plating and superstructure. Only being a short swim  and shallow depth -  these were great fun! [caption id="attachment_1036" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Swim-through on the SS Meldon Swim-through on the SS Meldon[/caption] The weather has improved after the morning and we made our way across the Firth of Lorne towards the tidal area of the Garvellach and Slate Islands. The waters can be turbulent here with the tidal races and it was an impressive site to watch this action from the rear deck of the boat. However with the strong westerly winds and spring tides, we had high hopes for spectacular conditions at the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. [caption id="attachment_1057" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Heading across the Firth of Lorne past the Garvellach Islands Heading across the Firth of Lorne past the Garvellach Islands[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1024" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Standing Waves in the Corryvreckan Standing Waves in the Corryvreckan[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1020" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Standing Wave! Standing Wave![/caption] It was a really big day in the whirlpool and the grey dogs race was also pumping. We scooted round the whirlpool checking out the standing waves and it was spectacular to be here in these conditions. After having a bit of fun there we then cruised up along the island of Scarba where we spotted feral goats, deer (possible Sika) and lots of cormarants but no eagles! By this time it was now getting late in the day and we headed for home. The conditions improving so much as we headed back that by the time we were tying up the sun was shining and looked far more like summer! [caption id="attachment_1022" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Sunshine on the way in! Sunshine on the way in![/caption] The group all had a great day out and despite the crazy weather we managed to get a really cool dive and also see the Corryvreckan is full tilt! Nice to see you guys and hopefully we'll see you again for some shark action later in the season! [caption id="attachment_1021" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]Sunny - Just like Summer! Sunny - Just like Summer![/caption]        

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