Sovereign Diving (Seahouses)

In keeping with the ever expanding portfolio of 'Reviews' I am moving closer to home to give you my thoughts and opinions on Sovereign Diving, a company based in Seahouses who both operate boats and have a small retail facility.

When you google or look at diving on and around the Farne Islands the recurring theme is 'diving with seals' and whilst this is the main aim of many divers visiting the area the Islands offer far more than that, with scenic wall and drift dives and large amounts of wrecks, from SS Somali a world war 2 victim sitting in 28m about a mile off Beadnell Point to the wreck of a vessel on Gun Rock, it's vintage is much discussed but what is obvious is the large quantity of cannon and cannon-balls on the rock, this wreck is from 3m to 18m deep but very tide dependent.

Back to the Sovereign diving, operating two vessels over the summer period and three in the autumn when the selas are more 'frolicsome' the guys at Sovereign offer a wealth of Farne diving experience with Ron, skipper of Mhara Mor one of the new cats, having logged a few thousand dives on the islands. With this level of experience the selected sites will certainly offer the best site based on the diving experience of the group and your dive aspirations.

On the aspirations front, the guys are happy if you dive in anything from a group of twelve to solo, they simply ask that they know how you will dive, how long you will dive and that you are competent in deploying a DSMB, surely not too much to ask for a days diving unencumbered with un-needed boat regulations and skippers foibles?

All vessels are fitted with tail-lifts meaning exit after the dive is easy and stress free, no side-lifts with these boys, even Serenity, a cat run by Andrew, which is usually used to ferry 'twitchers' to the island fitted with a tail-lift to cope with divers during the busy autumn season. With more 'diver comfort' in mind the vessels are fitted with small gas cookers meaning that hot tea and coffee are available at any-time during the trip, but always during your surface interval.

Now on the knotty issue of surface intervals, these guys don't run two trips per day so there is no pressure to get back in the water and you can take an extended surface break if that is what you need. A nice touch when compared to some of the RIB operators who limit your dives to 45 minutes with the same surface interval, not good!

There are inherent problems with diving the Farne Islands based at Seahouses, the main issues are the harbour at low water is not especially accessible with all boats having to load and unload at a set of concrete steps, these steps take the form of the North face of the Eiger when you are unloading at low water so pray that you can unload with more than 2.5m showing on the gauge, it is so much easier walking up and down the concrete slope in the inner harbour.
This issue is not eased by RIB diving from Beadnell, if launching a RIB is your idea of fun then so be it, but sitting in a RIB waiting for the tractor in less than ideal conditions can be soul destroying. The only other operators diving on the Islands are based in Eyemouth, but even with the fast boats used by Marine Quest it is a long motor and for that reason quite expensive.

As I hinted the guys at Sovereign Diving also have a retail facility, now being seasonal the guys have a good stock of bits and pieces that divers need, break, loose or forget so lead weights, masks, straps and seals but don't expect to find a stock of dry-suits....gear to fix your dry-suit yes but divers generally come equipped with basic gear!

What the guys do have is an extensive air filling facility with loads of DIN and yoke charging positions with the capacity to fill up to 300bar with an automated nitrox blending point where you can get anything from air to 100% O2.

The air is reasonably priced, good, dry and clean and you will always get an accurate nitrox fill to a 'juicy' level, these guys don't give you 220bar 'warm', you will be happy with the fill. 

Being the only air facility in the vicinity it's rare that there isn't a body at the unit filling tanks but if you arrive before the 2pm onslaught there is a mobile number and Toby, the owner is more than accomodating in getting you all filled up.

The guys have just started a mailing list of spaces, so guys if you want to simply turn up and dive then give them your details or stay in contact via facebook! To date I have never been told 'no space' and whilst I hope this doesn't change it just may as seal diving is so popular.

The guys offer the complete package of dive charters and acomodation so if you are visiting from far afield you just need to make one telephone call and you are sorted, you are also assured of an honest service, if the diving will be 'shiiiiite' you will be advised and given the option of re-booking, a service which is sadly lacking by some operators!

Overall a superb operation!

Ritchies rating 10/10; if only the harbour was deeper!

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