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Thread: Malin Head on Loyal Watcher 14-21 August

  1. #1
    Team HPDW Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey's Avatar
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    Malin Head on Loyal Watcher 14-21 August

    I've never posted a trip report on here before so I thought I'd use a recent visit to Malin Head as my first foray in case any of our cousins from across the pond are thinking of visiting our shores:

    This trip was a long time in the making having booked it almost a year ago and having had people drop out and be replaced by others along the way but the day finally dawned for us to set off on the drive to Ayr port.
    Anyone that has ever done the drive up to Scapa from down South will be pleasantly surprised by the (relatively) leisurely 400 mile journey up the motorway to Ayr.
    We decided to set off on Saturday morning as we didn't need to be there till 5pm so The Soggy one came over to my place early and we loaded up my car which just happened to be the perfect size for 2 rebreathers, 4 stages and all of our other bits and bobs.
    Quick cup of tea and off we go.
    We stop on the way for breakfast and a cuppa at Mr Hayhursts country estate in the Lake District before making the final push up off the edge of the map into darkest Scotland-shire. We arrive a couple of hours early so say hello to Darren & Linda as well as Rich Stevenson and retire to a local establishment for a couple of well earned refreshments. Back to the boat a couple of hours later to load up and leave the car in the car park alongside the port and we are told it's an overnight steam to get us where we need to be on Sunday in time to catch the tide for the Audacious :D
    Sunday dawns bright and clear and we head out to the Audacious to find a little fishing boat on-site already and they ain't moving so we put plan B into effect and head off to the Empire Heritage.
    In common with most of the wrecks in the area the Heritage is a "big bugger" (technical wreck divers term) and this particular "big bugger" was loaded with tanks.
    I had arranged with Rich Stevenson to hire one of his scooters for the week so I lumbered to the entrance with 2 stages on and Linda clipped in my scooter and I then entered the water like the most graceful, swan-like sack of bricks that you ever did see :D
    Once I put my head below the water I was in absolute awe. I had been told that the conditions in Malin could be good and I have seen the videos that people post but nothing prepares you for your virgin look at a Malin Head Classic Wreck. I made it to the bottom of the shot and just stared around me in wonder at the 25m+ visibility and the amount of ambient light. Once Nick and I had composed ourselves it was time to work out the scooter. I hadn't adjusted the tow chord correctly so I had to modify my scooter style slightly but once I got used to it we were off like a couple of spitfire pilots :D
    We did a few laps of the wreck weaving over and under and around the bits of wreckage and just generally larked about. Once it was time to come back to the shot I was very glad that we had the scooters (this theme would be repeated over and over on every dive)
    Deco was uneventful and tea and medals followed as we all made it out safe and sound.
    Day 2 (Monday) Darren reckons we need to get out on the Justicia today as it's the furthest out and the weather is looking like it might turn later in the week so off we go.
    Most people know the Justicia thanks to the atmospheric pictures out on the net of the bow looming up out of the gloom. Darren wanted to get us on this part of the wreck first as it really is quite spectacular so the shot goes in closely followed by us and down we go. The vis is equally as stunning as yesterday but I actually need my torch today as it's a bit darker and a bit deeper (72m) but down I go and out comes the scooter. I set off along the wreck doing my Spitfire impression and generally grinning like a schoolboy in a sweetshop and all of a sudden I am there. The bow sits in a bit of a dip and there is a shale slope that you can kneel down on (sorry Trim Gods - This is how I roll :D) and just stare at the bows.
    Unfortunately everyone else has the same idea so I set off on my trusty scooter for a bit of a mooch. My plan was to try and find the stern but to be honest I bottled it. I knew this was a return to shot dive and 70m gas diving is a pretty serious undertaking for me so I let discretion be the better part of valour and just stuck to the forward third of the wreck. As this was one of those "big buggers" there was still plenty to see and do though so I wasn't disapointed (at least not as disapointed as I would have been if I'd been at the stern and the scooter had crapped out leaving me to swim back to the shot on the bow :D)
    Deco followed by tea and medals as is the norm on Loyal Watcher.
    Day 3 (Tuesday) Stern of the Audacious today. They say that the dives that challenge you also reward you and this was a challenging one for sure. The weather had closed in overnight and the swell was in full effect. Darren was happy that the conditions were ok and I was happy that Darren knew WTF he was talking about having spent many an hour rolling around through the swell on our home for the week. Plenty of weakness was shown by many but my thoughts were I'd rather be under the swell than on top of it so I HTFU'd and kitted up. The deck was half empty so there was plenty of space to kit up, shot in and so were we. Up to this point we'd had some great vis and light conditions but today was the benchmark day.
    Rich took a video from the bottom of the shot (65m) facing upwards and managed to capture the 2nd pair in tying in the lazy shot. The transfer line for the lazy is at 33m. I've never seen conditions this good anywhere. To think that above the water line there was an atlantic gale rolling and here I was scootering on my own through daylight at 65m on the stern of the Audacious. Absolute bliss.
    Linda had restricted the runs to 90 minutes today as the storm was going to pick up if the weather people were to be believed so I had a look at the screws and came along the hull line to the guns then went back along the other side back to the screws before following the debris field out along the sea bed to see where it went (did I mention I had a scooter?) and then back to the shot to settle into deco.
    Conditions had eased slightly when we surfaced so we had an easy (ish) steam back into our anchorage)
    More tea and medals? Yes please.
    Day 4 (Wednesday) Bow of the Audacious - Today was the day I really earned my scooter wings :D
    Darren took us back to the Audacious and dropped the shot past mid-ships towards the bow. The Audacious was a "very big bugger" with plenty of guns and turrets to poke your head in which makes up for the upside down nature of it. I set off in the direction I thought the bow was going to be in and started getting confused as I noticed the hull curving slightly and what looked suspiciously like prop-shafts. Sure enough, by a miracle of Bailey Navigation I'd only gone and found the stern. Good news for me is I was there on my own so I had a look around just enjoying the privacy before making my way along the side of the wreck back towards the turrets and the guns before setting off in the correct direction for the bow. I actually found the pointy end this time and made it back to the shot for the complete lap of the "very big bugger" (which was nice :D)
    Deco - check
    Tea - Check
    Medals - Check
    Less of a swell in today but people were still missing dives which was a shame really.
    Day 5 (Thursday) Stern of the Justicia planned today. We had been to do the bow of this "big bugger" earlier in the week and I had bottled it a little bit due to being quite unfamiliar with the scooter but I had built up some confidence on the previous dives so I had planned to do a complete tour of this "big bugger" We were dropped in not far from the screws so I set off in that direction before doubling back on myself and heading for the boilers. If the bow is the most impressive sight on this wreck, the boilers are a very close second. 2 rows of absolutely HUGE boilers (8 in total I think). I did the over, under and around thing on my trusty scooter but with one eye on the depth and the other on the time to surface it's away again for the firemans escape tunnel. This is built into the wreck to give the fire fighters a direct route to the boilers (I think) and is quite an impressive sight. I know people that have dropped their bailout tins at one end and swum the length but that was a bit too ballsy/crazy for me so I power up the scooter and carry on along the tunnel before finally reaching the bow. Now it was atmospheric the other day even with 12 other divers swimming around but to have the bow of the Justicia all to myself was probably the biggest thrill in a week full of thrills. I just sat there staring in wonder that diving could be so amazing.
    Once I'd wiped the nostalgic tear from my eye it's time to complete the lap so I set off back the way I had come and once I got to the boilers I moved over to the right to explore this area. It looks like the plates have spilled out a lot more in this area but it is a bit less interesting than the other side so I make my way back to where the shot is. At the exact moment I got back to the shot a huge cloud must have made its way past the sun as it suddenly got very, very dark. As this happened a big set of waves must have gone over as well as the shot started jumping up and down and the grapnel started clanging against plates. I looked around to see where all of the other lights were only to realise I was the only one left on the wreck. Thinking this might be a good time to rejoin the safety of the pack I hit the up button and the play button on the i-pod and settled in for the deco.
    I had the shot all to myself today as everyone else had bagged off so for the last hour and a half of this dive I didn't see another person. Quite spooky but quite nice at the same time.
    All back safely in time for the distribution of tea and medals and it's away for the steam to Balycastle where we will be spending the night.
    Day 6 (Friday) The plan today is to do what Darren thinks may be the wreck of the Aarla which was a luxury yacht. I don't know much else about it as we didn't get to dive her due to a large fog bank settled in right above her so we head to Ayr via the isle of Ailsa Craig (SoggyFox has a "very interesting" fact about this island - ask him some time );) and take advantage of being back into port earlier than expected by loading up and heading home.
    Weaving our way through Friday traffic was a pain but I still made it home by 8:30 on Friday night so I wasn't complaining.
    Nick unloads his kit and heads for home and I retire to the sofa with a contented smile on my face.

    Things I learned this week:
    1 - Loyal Watcher is a very comfortable boat that has a better and more powerful shower than I have in my own home.
    2 - Linda has the mothering instinct as she spent the entire week force feeding us more and more delicious food and we even had home made deserts on a number of occasions.
    3 - You can spidge the Malin Classic Wrecks so I will be coming back next year looking for a few trinkets.
    This is a big bugger of the porthole variety and came up off one of the wrecks and is even complete with the storm cover and glass (it's not mine unfortunately):



    Top tip #1 - Take at least a 6 pack of bottled water with you - There's plenty of it on board but being a soft southern fairy I couldn't stomach it so spent the week wishing I'd known about Top Tip #1 before I got on the boat :D
    Top tip #2 - Take only one 02 and one dil cylinder with you as Darren has a fantastic gas set up and it really is the cheapest gas I've found. (My beer bill was more than my gas bill)

    I'd really like to thank Darren and Linda for running a great week for us up there and if you are thinking about heading up on Loyal Watcher on any of their trips I would just say go for it.

    The JJ only gave me one problem for the whole week (about 14 hours of diving) and that was a solenoid that stopped working on one of the dives (once I'd noticed it I just ran it manually)
    Once back on board I stripped it down, cleaned the face plate and the injection face and it worked fine for the rest of the week)
    Cheers
    Paul

  2. #2
    Team HPDW Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey is a jewel in the rough Paul Bailey's Avatar
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    Re: Malin Head on Loyal Watcher 14-21 August

    There is a fantastic video hosted here:

    The footage is by two different divers and edited by one of them and gives a great insight into how good the diving is over there

  3. #3
    Phil Siswick, Tango PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick has a reputation beyond repute PhilSiswick's Avatar
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    Re: Malin Head on Loyal Watcher 14-21 August

    Hi Paul,

    Sounds like you had an excellent trip. We were out there about 3 weeks before you, with similar swell, but a hellish trip over on the saturday night (so bad that both Darren and Linda stayed up overnight!).

    We had such a good time that we're trying to get another trip together in July 2011. Still spaces if anyone wants to come along

    Cheers,

    Phil

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