The London Divers Expedition for 2016 was to Shetland in September. Eleven divers spent a wonderful week diving, touring round the islands and enjoying life on our liveaboard ship.
Shetland is a special place for diving as it is less intensely dived and fished than many parts of Britain. With reliably good visibility (generally we found 10 to 15 metres) and plenty of wrecks and scenic sites, there is something for everyone.
Our first day was spent diving locally from the main port of Lerwick. We explored the Pionersk, a Russian factory ship which sank at anchor in a storm. It was a big a big wreck with lots of fish including my first cod. Often eaten, rarely seen.
Another notable dive was the E49, a British submarine sunk by a German mine in 1917. All of the crew perished and it is certified as a War grave. The good visibility allowed us to see the largely intact hull lying part exposed in the sand. We explored the conning tower which was on its side and even the long periscope was intact.
I performed two SeaSearch observation dives to help record what wildlife is present today in Shetland so that when recorded on the central database, it is possible to compare with observations in the future and to benchmark against other parts of Britain. Giants Steps was an amazing scenic dive with plenty of wildlife especially Dahlia anemones of so many colours and patterns. The second was a superb drift dive which I also did as an assessed open water exercise as part of my BSAC Dive Leader training. I have never seen so many dog-fish. We could not help benefitting from the enormous scallops above water, seen below being expertly cooked by Nathan.
My 100th Dive
I was very pleased that this milestone would happen during the expedition and I was so lucky that it turned out to be my favourite dive of week. The Fraoch Ban is a small trawler which sank off Brassay island in 1999 and is now populated with masses of colourful plumose anemones and surrounded by curious flatfish. The dab now actively follow divers to feed from any food stirred up by the divers’ fins. See the video to understand why we loved this dive so much.
The Big 100 celebration
The MV Halton
Our home for the week was a converted Scottish trawler which was amply suitable for some of the windier days we experienced. The equipment, facilities and cooking were very good and such fun for partying in the evening.
What a special place. We travelled to the island of Unst which has the most northerly pub in the UK. Whilst drinking the delicious locally brewed beer we were further north than the capitals of Sweden, Norway and Finland and nearer to Norway than we were to Inverness. The Vikings may have left a long time ago but there is still something unique about the scenery, the traditions and people.
We had a brilliant time on the trip. Several of us progressed in our diving including me who did planned deco dives and used Nitrox for the first time as well as progressing my dive depth. What more could we have wanted.