Trip Report by Pat Spencer.
We caught the overnight Liverpool to Belfast ferry on Friday evening, disembarked Saturday at 6.30am, drove to Ballycastle, had breakfast in The Bay Café, kitted up and were ready for our first dive on the North Wall and Arch, on Rathlin Island at 11.30am. The north wall was stunning– a riot of colour, but with serious currents and the bottom at 87m –not a place for anything other than perfect buoyancy. The arch was covered in cluster anemones and sponges. Our second dive was on the rocky reef below Carrick- a -Rede Rope Bridge. Cat shark, angler fish edible crabs, squat lobster and a wide variety of sponges, anemones, hydroids and bryzoa were seen.
On Sunday morning despite a 2metre swell and strong westerly winds we headed over to Rathlin to dive the classic WW2 wreck, The Lochgarry. With 10m+ viz, slack water timed to perfection and an intact wreck with a tiled floor still in place, its structure covered in Oaten Pipe, Devonshire cup coral, elegant and cluster anemones, this was a superb dive. Large Pollack and Ballan wrasse drifted in and out of view and large shoals of fish inhabited the holds A massive chain keeps the lid on the hold containing munitions As the wind increased in the afternoon we headed back to the shelter of Ballycastle Bay to dive The Templemore. Large Conger eels with accompanying prawns and small edible crabs inhabited the pipes and boilers.
On Monday we were joined by a different group of Irish divers .We went back to dive The Lochgarry again and finished the day with a drift over a large boulder field which again was covered in a variety of marine life.
Aquaholics with its refurbished accommodation, new fast and stable catamarans with electric dive lifts and remote steering, plus a knowledgeable skipper in Richard, makes Ballycastle a great cold water dive destination.