Dave's Tobermory Diving Adventure
Two dives on Saturday, two *official* dives on Sunday, plus one night dive, just five of us.
I went up Friday afternoon in the camper van. We hit the docks at 8:30 Saturday morning. We thought we were on the big tug, the W.A. Spears:
but it turned out we were on the little fishing boat, the Teak Bay:
A dozen of us, plus a dozen sets of equipment, and two dozen tanks, all trying to get ourselves ready in a space no larger than your dining room.
I was buddied up with a girl named Cam, (five foot tall Ellen Degeneres). We got suited up during the trip over to the first dive - The Caves. We moored off these cliffs that were 30 feet straight up, and dove into 20 feet of clear water. We tooled around in the rocks for a while, the bottom was very different than my other dives - the boulders were so big I could swim between them. Then Cam took me into the cliff face, through a tunnel maybe five feet high and ten feet wide. Just as the light behind us faded out, a deep blue glow appeared in front of us, and we popped up into a grotto inland, where hikers were walking by, and swimmers were swimming. Out again through another cave, and then I insisted my buddy take me as deeper. We followed the bottom away from the cliffs, and before I knew it I was at 50 feet. I would never have known it if I hadn't checked my gauge. All the changes take place in the first 20 feet, after that, not much different.
We saw a lot of minnows, zillions of crayfish, and kajillions of zebra mussels, and very occasionally a great big 20 pound fish of some kind.
Back to the boat, for lunch from my cooler and fill out my dive tables (we have to fill them out, because they will affect our subsequent dives). Next stop, The King, a wreck lying at a 45 degree angle down the embankment. These wrecks are deteriorating over the years. Many of them have decayed or been strewn about by currents, or been stripped by opportunistic divers. The King is mostly just a wood hull. Again, I told my buddy I don't want her holding back. So down we went, right to the stern - we hit 80 feet. We stayed there for all of 30 seconds for two reasons: 1] as I mentioned, our dive tables tell us how much nitrogen we've been infused with, and that limits what we can do on subsequent dives. We could only be down for 15 minutes, before we'd be forced to make decompression stops on the way up. This dive wasn't well planned, as normally you would plan your deepest dive first, followed by shallower dives.
So, reason number 2, is that, at 60 feet we hit a thermocline - a boundary between layers of water at different temperatures. The temperature at the surface was about 65, and dropped a few degrees down to 60 feet, but immediately below the thermocline (the change is quite abrupt), the temperature was a balmy 40 degrees. Any exposed skin went immediately numb. We had difficulty keeping our regs in our mouths.
Home by 4 PM for dinner at the town hall. At dusk, a few of us went for a night dive. Where we went in:
We drove from the campsite to a parking lot outside "town", and dressed out of our trunks. A slippery trek down the grass slope to the rock beach. Diving at night wasn't quite as surreal and unfamiliar as I expected. Even during the day, in silty water, you can't see anything around you, it wasn't *too* too different than that. We had flashlights and glowsticks to see each other and to see where we were going.
Morning 2, same routine getting stowed on the boat, but this time we had it down like clockwork.
Off to the Sweepstakes, a wreck that's in only about 20 feet of water. It's very popular with the glass-bottom boats. It was a huge wreck, and still fairly much holding together. We were able to go down into the holds in several places, though the innards have been walled off by sharkcage-like apparati to preserve them.
Did the Minch in the afternoon, and I can't remember what the last one was called. By the fifth dive, I had to come up a little soon, as I was beginning to suffer from sinus squeeze. My sinuses had started to swell, and whenever I ascended or descended, they would squeal. It got quite painful. I suspect that it was due to an excess of standing on my head on the previous dives.
All in all, had a total blast. Much diving, much rain, much campfire gathering, much camaraderie.
Little Tub Harbour - Tobermory
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