October saw Divemania Scuba's long awaited trip to Scapa Flow.
Leaving before dawn on Friday morning, 11 staff and members had a 10 hour drive to their first stop over at Inverness.
Another early start for the next leg of their trip, a 3 hour drive to catch the ferry to the island of Orkney
Arriving in Stromness early Saturday afternoon we headed straight to the “MV Huskyan” greeted by our skipper Emily and her crew to set up our equipment on board the most well equipped and spacious modern dive boat you could dive from, which was to be our home for the week.
Once all of the equipment was setup and checked Emily took us all to our accommodation.
A well equipped large luxury self catering house only a 2 minute walk from the boat and right opposite the pub, much to everyone's delight.
Scapa Flow being one of the world’s top dive locations, where 52 ships of the German high seas fleet was anchored before being scuttled in June 1919 due to the mistaken belief that the WW1 peace talks had failed and that the British would seize the fleet. Only 7 ships now remain beneath the water, the others being salvaged for their valuable metals.
Sunday was our first day of diving, after being given the most extensive Dive briefing by Emily with her unsurpassed knowledge and 3D scans of the wrecks we dived on the SMS Dresden, after the first dive a delicious hot lunch was served ready for our next dive on the SMS Karlsruhe another light cruisers and in well preserved condition with only blast damage from where salvage operations took place, again for their valuable metals.
Mondays saw another two dives, first on the SMS Coln another cruiser laying in 36 metres of water. This was probably the most intact wreck with many prominent features and easy to navigate. This was followed by a dive on the SMS Kronprinz, lying between 12 and 38 metres with her 12 inch guns being easily accessible.
Tuesday saw the weather take a turn for the worst with 50mph winds so diving was cancelled which gave everyone the chance to explore the island with visits to whiskey distilleries and Neolithic settlements to name a few places visited.
Wednesday normal serviced resumed with another two dives, first on the SMS Markgraf, a 146m Battleship lying in 45 metres of water thought to be jewel of Scapa.
Plenty of dive planning went into this dive due to the depth, and of course NDL limits.
Second dive of the day was on the SMS Brummer a Mine-laying cruiser, the high- light of this wreck is its brass bridge a true iconic sight.
On Thursday we were up early for another two dives first being on the SMS Bayern’s gun turrets, in 1934 efforts were made to salvage the ship but the gun turrets broke free and now sit on the sea bed between 38-45m, a truly impressive dive just to take in the sheer size of the turrets and the life that now grows on them, a true dive to remember.
Second dive of the day was on SMS Konig, she lies overturned at 38m and extensively broken up due to salvage of her valuable metals but still an enjoyable dive with access to her engine room and compartments.
Friday being our last day we were back on the Kronprinz due to this being the winner of the “vote on the boat”as everyone’s favourite dive, yet again another excellent dive. Joined by a playful seal to check us out. The second dive was on the F2 Escort boat and Barge.
The F2 was an WW2 escort boat which sank in a storm in 1946, although she is broken in half and only in 16m of water this was a great dive with plenty to see such as her guns, searchlight, and aquatic life. The wooden barge lays 100m or so off her bow and was used by the salvage team but also unfortunately sank in a storm in 1968, at the time of sinking she was holding many salvaged items, so again plenty to investigate as you explore her.
Friday night saw us out for a final meal out washed down by a beer or two and to reminisce over the weeks excellent diving followed by an early start on Saturday to catch the ferry back to Scrabbster and the journey home through the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland.
So thanks to the skipper Emily, her crew Duncan and Nick.
Ray, Dan, Barry, Clive, Tony, Rob, Tim, Keith, Chris, Paul and Howard for making this a trip to remember.
We all hope to return again in the future.