Ballycastle 19th - 25th September 2020

Our original dive destination was Arranmore in Ireland but due to Covid 19 restrictions we transferred to Ballycastle to dive with Richard from Aquaholics. We stayed at The Marine Hotel in Ballycastle.

The overnight ferry from Liverpool to Belfast enabled us to arrive early and take our kit onto the boat for a 9am start. We headed out to Rathlin Island to dive The Loch Garry. Our second dive was a fast drift over a large boulder slope. Spring tides and an Atlantic swell made for interesting underwater conditions however it was covered in marine life.

We revisited The Loch Garry on Sunday morning where we were treated to better viz and slack water. It is an intact wreck lying in 34m of water with a tiled floor still in place. Its structure is covered in Oaten Pipe, Devonshire cup coral, elegant, plumose and cluster anemones, Large Pollack and Ballan wrasse drifted in and out of view and large shoals of Pollack inhabited the holds. A massive chain keeps the lid on the hold containing munitions.

We managed to get onto The North Wall in the afternoon and it did not disappoint. A sheer rock face dropping to 87m and strong currents meant that perfect buoyancy was a must. The wall was a riot of colour with a wide variety of sponges, jewel, elegant and cluster anemones, pink white and orange soft coral plus big patches of baked bean sea squirts. Squat lobster, Scorpion fish and Tompot blennies were in tiny crevices.

Strong winds and a heavy swell limited our diving on Monday. We had a fabulous first dive on a 30m cobble /pebble/sand seabed. It was full of life –octopus, angler fish, squat lobster, edible and velvet swimming crabs, humpback prawn, Cat shark, scallops by the dozen and a wide variety of sponges, sea squirts and starfish. We headed over to Carrick a Rede Bridge for a second dive which can only be described as an extremely fast drift with a washing machine finish.

From Tuesday to Thursday we repeated some of the dive sites as we were limited by the wind, tides and swell. We did however manage to complete 2 dives each day. Friday was a sightseeing day.

Thanks to buddies Loz, Steve, Claire, Simon, Mark ,Anna and Wilf for a great week.

Pat and Phil

Rathlin Island North Wall Dive with Aquaholics 23rd July 2017 – Video by Michael Cassidy

Exploring the Loch Garry off Rathlin Island – Video by Icicle Diver