The Atlantic Outliers, North Scotland - 12th - 18th August 2023

We all travelled north on Friday and stayed overnight at various hotels en route to Scrabster. We met at the harbour on Saturday morning to load the dive containers, park the cars and board the afternoon ferry to Stromness. The kit was removed from the containers, craned onto The Clasina and set up ready for Sunday. We had a boat briefing with the skipper Bob Anderson, a couple of hours at leisure and a meal at the Ferry Inn.

The forecast for the first 4 days was fantastic, minimum swell, and light winds. Bob set out the plan for the diving.

Sunday 13th:

AM:  Shake down dive Nipple Rock Hoy   PM:  Eilean Nan Ròn West

Anchor watch, midnight until 6am. Pat /Phil

Monday 14th

AM: Nun Rock before a 6-hour steam to North Rona 100 miles west of The Orkney Isles.

PM:  Gealldriug Mhor North Rona.

Anchor watch. midnight until 6am. Clare/Simon

Tues 15th

AM: Ralisgeir Sula Sgeir.   PM: Gannet Rocks Sula Sgeir.

Gannet colony 10 miles west of North Rona.  Everyone ferried ashore on North Rona for a walk.

Anchor watch Clemmie/Dave  &  Sanders/Helen.

Wed 16th.

AM:  Gealldruig Mhor East.   PM: The Caves North Rona.

Bob altered the dive plan at this point as the winds were increasing and changing to Easterlies. He steamed until 3am before anchoring in Loch Eribol on the mainland. Anchor watch Steve and Rob.

Thurs 17th

AM:  Freisgill Head,  PM:  Eilean Nan Ròn East

Seven-hour steam into Stromness

Fri 18th

AM: UB116, Scapa Flow   PM: Karlsruhe, Scapa Flow

We de-kitted, craned everything onto the quayside and loaded the containers ready for a 5.30am departure and then had a final meal at the Ferry Inn.

This was an amazing trip. We were so lucky with the weather. The vis (apart from in the Flow) was 20m, the water temperature a manageable 13C. and the kelp line around 26m. The colour was memorable, every rock surface was covered with pink algae, orange, and white Deadman’s Fingers. encrusting sponges and seaweed, urchins, plus a variety of sponges, starfish, hydroids and bryozoa. The marine life was diverse and abundant with Salp, Lion’s Mane and Blue jellyfish, shoals of Saithe, Pollack and Mackerel above the kelp, juvenile Pollack, and mature Ballan Wrasse in and around the boulders. Cat Sharks were seen by everyone on every dive. Ledges, cracks and crevices were home to Conger Eel, Ling, Lobster, Squat Lobster, Crayfish, Edible and Velvet Swimming Crabs, Leopard Spotted Gobies, Prawns and Shrimp. Several species of nudibranchs and their eggs were seen.

Memorable moments  underwater:

 Eilean Nan Ròn.  The vis!!!.  Haddock and a Flapper Skate were videoed on the skate monitor at 44m.     

Nun Rock: Rob spotted Tuna.

Gealldruig Mohr: Walls of pink, green and orange Jewel Anemones and massive areas covered in White Striped Anemones (Fried Egg variety dominant).

Ralisgeir Sula Sgeir: Yet more walls of pink, green and orange Jewel Anemones and rocky areas covered in White Striped Anemones.  Helen and Clemmie called this the Daisy Fields.

The Caves North Rona: Seals. Flapper Skate on video.

Freisgill Head: Seals.

Eilean Nan Ròn East: Cling Fish, Scorpion Fish

UB116: Shoals of juvenile Pollack. Sea Pens

Above water:

Pod of Dolphin. Porpoise. Seals. Gannet colony on Sula Sgeir, Puffins, Razor Bills, Giant Skua, Sea Eagle.  Fulmar., Shag.

Best in house entertainment: I Spy and Poker.

Best fixer of kit: Phil.

Thanks to buddies Clemmie & Helen, Rob & Steve, Dave & Sanders, Clare & Simon, plus Peter & Jim from Reading BSAC —a truly memorable UK dive trip to a remote location on board The Clasina with skipper Bob Anderson and crew Tash and Neil. Summed up by Sanders in one word, Awesome.

Trip Organiser: Pat & Phil