Each year the DO asks members where they’d like to dive the following season. Last year the most exciting suggestion was to go to the Isle of Man. Unsurprisingly this came from former Manx resident Laura who, surprisingly, had never dived there before. I was delighted to try to organise it, partly because I’d never been to the island before and partly because I wanted another chance to tick basking sharks off my bucket list.
We used Discover Diving in Port St Mary at the South end of the island. They are a combined commercial diving operation and BSAC club, so they are familiar with our ways. The set up is very convenient. They have an apartment above their dive shop that has 3 bedrooms (including a large dorm) and kitchen/dining room with a fantastic view out over the bay. The boat is moored in the harbour a short walk (or very short drive) away so there isn’t much faff to do in the morning.
On the Friday the weather was too windy for boat diving so we contented ourselves with a shore dive in the sheltered and picturesque bay of Port Soderick. I provided surface cover but I’m told there was lots of life in the water and that the conditions were very easy and pleasant.
Over the weekend the weather was fantastic and the diving was nothing short of spectacular. Our first dive was in a crack running along the cliff so it had the feel of a cave dive but with a clear surface above us the whole time. The walls were covered in anemones and strawberry sea squirts and the safety stop at the end was by a cormorants’ rock giving us the chance to see them swimming for fish.
On the second day the best dive was a bay on The Calf (the large island just South of the mainland). This was 4 dives in 1 and we started by a wall covered in kelp then progressed across a very vibrant sea bed featuring cat sharks and flat fish.
We progressed on to a row of rock columns extending to the surface that were festooned with a remarkable variety of jewel anemones in very vivid colours. On the other side of these we encountered seals and played with them (or rather watched them play with Declan) for the rest of the dive. I’d happily go again and do a whole dive on each of those sections.
The trip also gave Laura the chance to complete her last open water lesson for Sports Diver. Well done to her for that – depth progression next – and hopefully the IFC!
As for those basking sharks – they remained elusive. Well they say the secret of happiness is to always leave something to go back for.