Out to the Farne islands

I have barely been out to the islands this year, what with the repair work at North Sunderland Harbour I have just kept clear but today I decided to have a go, get up early, onto Mhara Mor and get wet!

The vis around the islands is variable and whilst it was around the 10m mark on Knifestone there was only about 7m on Wamses. About the only thing you can be sure about the vis is that it 'tends' to be better on the North Side unless there has been some event that brings dirty water down from the Tweed or up from the Tyne.

back to the day and with the tide ebbing it was apparent that it was happy days and the first dive would be on the northern side of the islands and when the Ancient Diver suggested a trip back to Knifestone you will never get any dissent from me!

With the tide still running rather than go through the split and dive the area between the Knifestone and Longstone we dropped in on the North side and were able to dive in the lee caused by the island, so basically jump into the kelp covered plateau then when everything is right head over the steep 'cliff' and work around the base of the cliff and associated rock structures looking at both wild-life and scrappage from both SS Abessinia and other wrecks.

Now on the subject of these wrecks they must have been just about picked clean but you can usually pick up odd bits of non-ferrous and whilst most is only fit for the scrap bin just occasionally you find a nice trinket.....well this time it was just bits of pipe which were put in the bag to be added to the scrap copper pile.

The site here is really scenic but I have always found that the 'ends' of the island can be a bit barren and I reckon that this is down to sea-urchins who graze back to bare rock all of the flat or should I say non-vertical surfaces, when you drop down the wall it is smothered in Dead-mans fingers and associated life but get to the bottom and you see worm casts on the black, doleritic lime-stone, odd dead-mans fingers on any surface which is near vertical and that's about it. I am sure that the urchins struggle to 'hold on' either side of the siland where the strong tides are encountered and as such live at the ends.

On this dive I decided to head out into the area between Knifestone and Longstone a little way and whilst I am sure that it is localised the bottom does seem to have a large area which is comprised of very fine and mobile 'beach-sand', so my hunt for scallops, ok let's be blunt, wasn't a roaring sucess, now for sure there must be a few there as there were bits of shell everywhere but the area I checked out was totally unsuitable.

Having to act as combined winch-bitch and tea-boy I called my dive after forty minutes or so to get out, de-kit and start to help getting the customers back on-board....a nice dive and a ointer for further scallop dives!

After a break and conflab it was decided that the best chance of seals would be Wamses, probably my least favoured dive, we had hoped to get onto the Crumstone which was covered in seals but unfortunately the wind had really picked up and blowing hard from the South East it was the most unsuitable conditions so Wamses it was............

On the plus point I managed to pick up tea!


I have always thought that this dive was barren, sure there is kelp but it does tend to be lots of black-rocks without even the worm casts and for that reason I haven't bothered with it for a year or two, so todays dip was a bit of a revelation!

Dropping in there was a bit of current running, the tide had turned so whilst there was a bit of current you could work against it and it was just a big circular sweep so no chance of ending the dive near Whitby. I decided to head down the wall which had quite a few Dead-mans fingers before working out onto the rough ground, however halfway down the wall there was a large cock crab in a crack.........when I stopped to get my implements he crawled out from his crack and started waving his claws about. Well I don't need to be asked twice and he was scragged and bagged 'toot-sweet', with the bag then hung on my hook using the brass snap ring. I am always fearful of crabs as they 'nip' much harder than lobbies and have been known to take finger ends off!

Rather than fight things to reach some seals, I hate 'em, I decided to simply go with the flow and as such I covered quite a bit of ground in my dive, most of which had life on it which was quite a surprise. It is obviosu why the site is barren as it is tidal as hell and faces the sea and all of the associated storms. I am guessing that over the last couple of winters the storms have been at an angle that misses the site and smashes up onto other parts of the island, either where it will cause less damage, for instance the North side of harcars where the rocks are just a long steady slope where a wave woudl dissipate its energy over a large area rather than on a single, short rock-face or where dives are seldom carried out, so the North side of Wamses.

During this drift there were a few blue fiends about but they were almost all 'soft' having recently shed their exoskeletons and as such illegal and unethical to take, you also have to be careful when taking lobbies that are 'hard' but have only recently shed their skin....if you spot a large lobbie that is electric blue rather than a dull, scratted specimen with parasites it is likely that it has only recently shed so the meat will be quite 'watery' so leave it alone!

It was quite a good day out and with the drop off being at the slipway only a short jag to the car, maybe I should go out a few more times this year?

Dive safe


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