September 2018 saw us back at the Farne Islands for our third annual trip Diving with Seals.
Our group of 17 divers are joined by a couple of non divers too and nearly all travelled up on Friday 14 September for a staggered arrival at Springhill Hill Farm Cottages to join some who had taken the opportunity to stay for a full week.
After a pleasant dinner on Friday it was off to bed for an early start on Saturday as we needed to get down to Seahouses for ropes off at 9am which wasn't bad compared to some of our trips this year and as we were staying only a couple of minutes away as we always do it wasn't such a hardship and gave us plenty of time for breakfast.
Down at the harbour and admiring the sunrise we unloaded and set up our kit ready for the boats arrival. We were looking out for St. Cuthbert III and there it was waiting in line for the other boats to load before its turn.
The reason why we do this trip every year and its so popular is that we like to become acquainted with the locals, the locals being a colony of 4-5 thousand grey seals out at the Farnes all year. September is a great time to go as the pups are now juveniles and are a lot braver when it comes to checking out the divers coming to see them as the picture below taken on one of the dives shows:
So once kit was loaded the boat set off for the first dive of the day which was on the south side of Big Harker. Four of our divers on the trip were taking the opportunity to do the PADI Boat Diver course which we do not get the opportunity to run very often apart from on our trips. Michelle, Gary, Robyn and Dean were buddied up and Martin and Paul who briefed them on the boat and what was expected of them on dive 1.
The boat had a hard lift on it so exits were nice and easy and due to the type of boat the option for a giant stride or roll off the boat was there. As you learn from the Open Water course the best entry is the easiest one (but sometimes its also the quickest one) so while the queue of divers waiting to enter with a giant stride a couple elected for a roll off the side!
Once all in the water the separate groups all went off on their way to go and see if the Seals would come out to play. Maximum dive time was one hour and given the depth of the dives on this trip for the best possible interaction air consumption was not an issue for most divers.
After an hour all divers were back on the boat and already the trip had not disappointed with loads of interaction reported from all. Teas and coffees were distributed and all exchanged stories of their experiences on the first dive.
After an hour or so at the surface it was time for dive 2 so the boat moved off to Hopper Rock. The skipper briefed us and the way the site was care had to be taken in order to avoid the possibility of getting into a current and being taken out to sea but not to worry if that happens as all that is required is to deploy a DSMB as soon as possible and then complete safety stops and come to the surface. Needless to say this happened to a couple of our divers who handled the situation admirably and did exactly that. The boat then picked them up and they saw the benefits and advantages of boat diving (and doing the Boat Diver course!)
For others on the dive, there was immediate interaction with Seals coming to say hello as soon as getting into the water!
After dive 2 was finished it was back to the harbour to unload the cylinders to be refilled for the next days fun. We were back around 2:30pm so plenty of time to unwind and explore the local sites, hostelries or have a nap ahead of the evenings social activities.
In the evening it was out for a nice meal at Insieme, a local Italian restaurant but not a late one as the early start and diving had taken its toll so off to bed to repeat it all on Sunday.
Day 2 for diving and more of the same. Full cylinders were waiting for us in the harbour so we transferred these down in order to kit up and be on our way. The name of the site wasn't written down this time but basically another part of the Farnes where loads of Seals were once again waiting to say hi to us. There was so much interaction we decided to stay for both dives.
If you like the pictures in this blog there are more in the gallery below and lots more can be found on our Facebook page here.
So day 2 was a rinse and repeat of day one and some of our group left on Sunday night while the rest went to sample the local Indian and another lovely evening was had by all.
Monday morning and the rest of the group departed the accommodation for the journey home. It was another great weekend, so much so we have arranged the same again for next year and all the details can be found here. If you like the sound of this then why not join us next time?