Saturday morning was overcast but dry with gentle wind that could bite. We mustered on the Ballycastle slip around 9:30. The sea was flat calm with hardly a wave and the promised a good day ahead lay ahead. The day improved when Louise had a requested played for the club on the radio; however I was listening to the wrong station and didn’t hear it
We had 9 divers in all and the plan was for 8 to dive the Drake and after a suitable surface interval 4 to dive the Lochgarry.
Jonathan took us straight to Church Bay and to our horror discovered all the marker buoys were missing. Discretion being the better part of valour I suggested that we used the navigational warning buoy as a shot line however the one thing I hadn’t considered was that the marker wasn’t that close to the wreck. Jonathan, Peter and Denis went in first; followed by Warren and Louise and Sheila then Cormac and myself. Mark Dev boat handled.
Louise and Sheila were a bit light but with some lead in their BC had no difficulty finding the sea floor. The viz was not as good as we hoped. However everyone got wet and some even found the wreck putting an end to the scurrilous rumour that it was in the Ulster Museum. Louise reckoned that her drift dive was great.
After some hot coffee and snacks, no hot food available on Rathlin as it is not yet the tourist season, we headed off to the Lochgarry with Louise boat handling. Once again the marker buoy was no where in sight so we decided to deploy a shot. Once the shot was in the water the marker popped to the surface, talk about timing! :-)
Warren and I got to go down the marker line and Mark and Jonathan went down the shot line with a lift bag to raise the weight and then fin over to the wreck.
Needless to say it was running hard for the entire dive and I was momentarily confused in mid-water as I thought we were diving the Alastor it was so dark. The ambient light improved slightly when we “bumped” into the wreck, think Alastor. We sheltered in the wreck for most of the dive but the trip was worth it. It looks like the wreck has taken another pounding over winter.
After about 30 minutes it was time to surface, we located the shot line and started upward by way of a seven minutes decompression stop and a further 3 minutes safety stop.
Louise got us back to Ballycastle in one piece to delicious battered fish and chips.
Many thanks to all for making the day so enjoyable but especially Peter for towing; Jonathan; Mark D and Louise for boat handling.
To find out more about the Lochgarry, Drake and other wrecks in Ireland you can visit www.irishwrecksonline.net/