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Thread: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

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    Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    I just returned from a fantastic week of diving off Northern Ireland. For those that may not know, this area has some incredible wrecks such as liners, tons of u-boats, numerous warships including a massive dreadnought battleship, and a plethora of other vessels. In the summer, visibility can be well over 100 feet. It is fairly remote diving compared to other areas, and as such, there are new wrecks being explored and identified each year. Even the well-known shipwrecks have only really been dived for about 20 years. Aside from the quantity and quality of the wrecks, the diving can be quite reasonably-priced, and is actually a MUCH better value compared to trips I have seen offered to the ANDREA DORIA and such. Added to that the amazing Irish scenery, as well as wildlife like basking sharks and minke whales, and Donegal is a destination worth serious considering for any wreck diver. We even came across an abandoned sailboat 20 miles off the coast that myself and a buddy boarded to tend on the tow in; the owner lost his rudder and was picked up by a German freighter three weeks earlier several hundred miles off the UK.

    In any case, I put together a little video sampler from this year's dives from a GoPro placed above my still camera housing. I was able to fit in 7 dives in 8 days, and while underwater conditions were not pristine, it was still an amazing time. Enjoy in HD!


    Cheers,
    Mike

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Great video, explosions and stuff, thanks for sharing.

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Thanks for sharing Mike, even though im from Ireland and have yet to Dive these Babies, since moving to Perth nearly 6 1/2 years ago, sure miss Home though.

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Fantastic video well done, conditions look pretty good to me! What sort of run times were you doing and how did the housing for the go pro put up with the depths, anything special. Ambient light looks good?

    cheers
    Joe

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Whats your opinion on land based versus liveaboard Mike?

    I see Loyal Watcher is up for sale and MV Salutay seems booked up and headed for Normandy next season.

    What options does that leave us?

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Quote Originally Posted by josepherely  View Original Post
    Fantastic video well done, conditions look pretty good to me! What sort of run times were you doing and how did the housing for the go pro put up with the depths, anything special. Ambient light looks good?

    cheers
    Joe
    The operator allows you to dive as you wish. For these moderate depth dives, run times were between 2-3 hours. For deeper dives, 3+ hours...
    I was using a GolemGear 1000'-rated aluminum housing, which worked great mounted above my primary Aquatica housing. Conditions were better this year than last (bad plankton bloom), but still not the spectacular conditions that Donegal can have in good years.

    Cheers,
    Mike

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisBrown  View Original Post
    Whats your opinion on land based versus liveaboard Mike?

    I see Loyal Watcher is up for sale and MV Salutay seems booked up and headed for Normandy next season.

    What options does that leave us?
    They both have their pros and cons, but you are rolling your dice with the weather (and your money) with liveaboards. Here is what I posted a while back on another forum...pardon the cross posting ;)


    With operators you basically have two general options - liveaboard or shore based.

    Liveaboards include the LOYAL WATCHER and SALUTAY (Google them), both of which depart from Scotland and steam across to Ireland. Not sure if Richie Stevenson will also be adding the OCEAN STAR or OCEAN DAWN to the mix as well. The pros of liveaboard is they can provide gas, cylinder rentals, and everything is in one place. The cons of liveaboard are largely related to weather: if the weather is really, really bad and you don't leave port, you still pay. If the weather is just really bad (fairly common) you may not actually get to the wrecks off Malin and Donegal (e.g., AUDACIOUS, JUSTICIA) and stay closer to Scotland and Rathlin Island area (which have good wrecks as well). Regardless of the number of diving days, you still pay. Some of the Irish lads were saying on average liveaboards dive 1/3-1/2 of their planned diving days, but not sure how accurate that may be. Basic fee for the LOYAL WATCHER last year was right around $1,200 for six days of diving. Gas, sorb, and rentals would be additional.

    Shore based options include the ROSGUILL, which is the operator I have used the past two years, and some RIBs including DIVE NORTH. The ROSGUILL (Rosguill.com - Charter Boat Hire for Fishing, Angling and Diving | Downings - B&B Bed and Breakfast Accommodation - Dooey, Downings, Co Donegal, Ireland) is a nice hard boat with a cabin, head, etc., and with a lift and he will run in just about anything. For bad weather days he will go to the AUDACIOUS as it is fairly close to shore and about a 20nm run. Keep in mind, on average these guys operate in weather most US operators would not even consider leaving the dock for. A day with 4-5' seas is a "grand" day, 6-7' seas is a "fine" day, etc. Last year's deep week there were no weather cancellations, but two AUDACIOUS days. So, in theory, you could have dived every day. In practice, I find you need a down-day and typically through the week the boat thins out on a day here or there. This year, the weather was great with a lot of sun and with one oily 2' long swell day (basically flat calm, but heavy fog), and generally warmer than last year's August trip. We had some days with sporty seas this year, and on average it was 3-5' offshore. The ROSGUILL is capable of cruising 16-18 kts, but the skipper is pretty frugal when it comes to diesel, so he spends a good deal of time at 8 kts, making for long days. For example, for an AUDACIOUS day, depending on tide, you could load up at 11 am, ropes off at 11:30 am, be on site at 2:30 pm, dive at 3:00 pm, departing site at 6:30-7:00 pm, and back around 9:00-10:00 pm. Diving is timed around slack water for the particular destination, so activities vary from day to day. You are free to dive as long or short as you wish; there is no hand-holding here. They deploy a deco station that parts from the shot line by the last person up the line. The guys I were diving with also deploy two separate drop gas set-ups in case of an emergency (yellow SMB).
    ROSGUILL also operates a B&B, which is our base of operations. The Irish lads bring their own gas, boosters, and sorb, as this is pretty remote stuff. There is a shop in the area (~30 minutes away) that can provide gas, tank rentals, etc. (DivinDec - Scuba Diving Courses Donegal Ireland). The B&B is nice, and includes a hearty breakfast each morning. We were running into Carrigart (~15 minutes away) before the dive to grab lunch. Dinner in Downings Bay or Carrigart if we get in before 9:00 pm kitchen cutoff, or take-away options after that in Carrigart. For the 8 days of diving (I took one day off and went to visit Giant's Causeway) and 9 nights accommodation, the cost was just under $1,200. The lads hooked me up with cylinders, sorb was about $50 for a half bucket, and gas (CCR) was cheap as well.
    The RIBs are a bit more basic, and you suit up before leaving the dock. Much faster for sure, but with a ladder and no radar (won't run in heavy fog, even in flat seas). Not sure of cost.
    You can fly in to either Dublin (4 hour drive to Downings) or Belfast (3 hour drive to Downings). I flew into Dublin, stayed in city center one night, and headed up with one of the lads the next day. The nice thing about flying out of Dublin is that you clear customs in-country, and not once back in the US; not sure about Belfast (Northern Ireland = proper UK). My flight was around $1,200 I believe.

    This time of year it does not get dark until 10:30-11:00 pm. The scenery and sunsets (if the sun makes an appearance, and this year it was around a lot) are unreal.

    If I was just traveling over to Ireland by myself and I did not know anyone I might consider a liveaboard, as they can cover all your needs in one place. But since I am friends with several Irish divers that put these Donegal diving weeks together, I sign on to those trips as they are loads of fun.

    I am definitely looking forward to heading back next year!

    Cheers,
    Mike

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    Re: Donegal, Ireland wreck diving July 2013

    Quote Originally Posted by barney  View Original Post
    They both have their pros and cons, but you are rolling your dice with the weather (and your money) with liveaboards. Here is what I posted a while back on another forum...pardon the cross posting ;)


    With operators you basically have two general options - liveaboard or shore based.

    Liveaboards include the LOYAL WATCHER and SALUTAY (Google them), both of which depart from Scotland and steam across to Ireland. Not sure if Richie Stevenson will also be adding the OCEAN STAR or OCEAN DAWN to the mix as well. The pros of liveaboard is they can provide gas, cylinder rentals, and everything is in one place. The cons of liveaboard are largely related to weather: if the weather is really, really bad and you don't leave port, you still pay. If the weather is just really bad (fairly common) you may not actually get to the wrecks off Malin and Donegal (e.g., AUDACIOUS, JUSTICIA) and stay closer to Scotland and Rathlin Island area (which have good wrecks as well). Regardless of the number of diving days, you still pay. Some of the Irish lads were saying on average liveaboards dive 1/3-1/2 of their planned diving days, but not sure how accurate that may be. Basic fee for the LOYAL WATCHER last year was right around $1,200 for six days of diving. Gas, sorb, and rentals would be additional.

    Shore based options include the ROSGUILL, which is the operator I have used the past two years, and some RIBs including DIVE NORTH. The ROSGUILL (Rosguill.com - Charter Boat Hire for Fishing, Angling and Diving | Downings - B&B Bed and Breakfast Accommodation - Dooey, Downings, Co Donegal, Ireland) is a nice hard boat with a cabin, head, etc., and with a lift and he will run in just about anything. For bad weather days he will go to the AUDACIOUS as it is fairly close to shore and about a 20nm run. Keep in mind, on average these guys operate in weather most US operators would not even consider leaving the dock for. A day with 4-5' seas is a "grand" day, 6-7' seas is a "fine" day, etc. Last year's deep week there were no weather cancellations, but two AUDACIOUS days. So, in theory, you could have dived every day. In practice, I find you need a down-day and typically through the week the boat thins out on a day here or there. This year, the weather was great with a lot of sun and with one oily 2' long swell day (basically flat calm, but heavy fog), and generally warmer than last year's August trip. We had some days with sporty seas this year, and on average it was 3-5' offshore. The ROSGUILL is capable of cruising 16-18 kts, but the skipper is pretty frugal when it comes to diesel, so he spends a good deal of time at 8 kts, making for long days. For example, for an AUDACIOUS day, depending on tide, you could load up at 11 am, ropes off at 11:30 am, be on site at 2:30 pm, dive at 3:00 pm, departing site at 6:30-7:00 pm, and back around 9:00-10:00 pm. Diving is timed around slack water for the particular destination, so activities vary from day to day. You are free to dive as long or short as you wish; there is no hand-holding here. They deploy a deco station that parts from the shot line by the last person up the line. The guys I were diving with also deploy two separate drop gas set-ups in case of an emergency (yellow SMB).
    ROSGUILL also operates a B&B, which is our base of operations. The Irish lads bring their own gas, boosters, and sorb, as this is pretty remote stuff. There is a shop in the area (~30 minutes away) that can provide gas, tank rentals, etc. (DivinDec - Scuba Diving Courses Donegal Ireland). The B&B is nice, and includes a hearty breakfast each morning. We were running into Carrigart (~15 minutes away) before the dive to grab lunch. Dinner in Downings Bay or Carrigart if we get in before 9:00 pm kitchen cutoff, or take-away options after that in Carrigart. For the 8 days of diving (I took one day off and went to visit Giant's Causeway) and 9 nights accommodation, the cost was just under $1,200. The lads hooked me up with cylinders, sorb was about $50 for a half bucket, and gas (CCR) was cheap as well.
    The RIBs are a bit more basic, and you suit up before leaving the dock. Much faster for sure, but with a ladder and no radar (won't run in heavy fog, even in flat seas). Not sure of cost.
    You can fly in to either Dublin (4 hour drive to Downings) or Belfast (3 hour drive to Downings). I flew into Dublin, stayed in city center one night, and headed up with one of the lads the next day. The nice thing about flying out of Dublin is that you clear customs in-country, and not once back in the US; not sure about Belfast (Northern Ireland = proper UK). My flight was around $1,200 I believe.

    This time of year it does not get dark until 10:30-11:00 pm. The scenery and sunsets (if the sun makes an appearance, and this year it was around a lot) are unreal.

    If I was just traveling over to Ireland by myself and I did not know anyone I might consider a liveaboard, as they can cover all your needs in one place. But since I am friends with several Irish divers that put these Donegal diving weeks together, I sign on to those trips as they are loads of fun.

    I am definitely looking forward to heading back next year!

    Cheers,
    Mike
    Thanks mike. Ive been in touch with that B&B crowd and they seem to be the way to go. Dont fancy being stuck on a boat all week.

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