With the presence of nearby Gulf stream and unpolluted water of the Firth of Lorne, Oban has always been University of Nottingham Sub Aqua Club’s go-to place for summer trips. It was no surprise that we decided to go back for more amazing scenic, wreck and drift dives this year.
Friday 17th June
The journey was going to be roughly 7 hours long so we departed Nottingham at 10pm and spent the night sleeping on the minibus.
Saturday 18th June
We knew we were definitely in Scotland when we arrived since we were bombarded with Scottish midges as soon as we stepped out of the minibus early in the morning – nasty little things they are.
After the safety briefing and practical aid administration exercise, we buddied up with the more experienced divers diving with the newly qualified Ocean Divers. Today was the day for a checkout dive to get us all set up for the week ahead so we went for a short shore dive off Oban Puffin Bay. With the best Scottish weather you could ever get, we jumped into the calm Sound of Kerrera. My buddy was underweight and so we surfaced about 30 minutes after exploring the small in size but abundant marine life.
After the dive, we headed off to the Cologin Chalets and settled down in our caravans.
Sunday 19th June
An early start, some of us helped launching the club ribs while others kitted up on the shore of Puffin Bay.
The dive site on this day was Oban degnash point, we had fun exploring the western side wall on our first dive. Shining our bright torches on the gaps between rocks, we found a lot of squad lobsters and crabs on this dive. The second dive was probably one of my favourite dives of the trip, it was one of the reasons why our club kept going back to Oban – to catch some of the best scallops! We dived along the panicles of the same dive site and saw lots of langoustines, crabs and starfishes on the wall. We then headed to a sandy bottom and started to look for scallops. It was my first ‘scallop’ dive and so it took me a while to get used to finding them, but I found one at the end when my buddy has already found five. It was hard to believe it before I saw it myself but the scallop I tried to catch swam away from me by clapping its shells quickly. After we surfaced and were back on the rib, we chatted excitedly about scallops we saw: they were huge. It was a brilliant dive and of course a brilliant night of scallop feast that evening. I’m not sure I would be able to call other scallops ‘scallops’ now I have tried the ‘proper’ ones.
Monday 20th June
On this day, we dived off the brittle star pinnacle (so we called it). We travelled to the dive site with the club ribs and descended down a shot line to the rock that had brittle stars covered all over it. We explored around, playing with the brittle stars. We saw some moon jellyfish floating by; found crabs and quite a few hermit crabs nearby as well. It was a very peaceful dive as my buddy and I had the same breathing rate, it was very quiet sometimes at the bottom of the seabed with us just admiring the amazing Scottish water and its marine life.
Tuesday 21st June
Another one of my favourite dives of the trip was on this day, we drift dived down the Creagan Narrows like superman. After kitting up on the side of a road, we walked down to the pebble beach next to Creagan Narrows.
The drift was stronger than I have expected after we performed a negative entry into the narrows. It was a shallow dive with a lot of moon jellyfish, baby sea urchins, brittle stars and crabs. With the max speed of the drift being 5 knots, everything went really quickly. It wasn’t long after we messed around a bit that it was time to surface. It was such a fun dive despite the short length and so we went for more afterwards. For the second dive at this dive site, we decided to do the dive as a group of six and we drifted down the narrows holding each other’s hand as if we were skydiving. A huge group of moon jellyfish was above us as we flew by, it was magical. The current decided to stop at one point so we launched our DSMB and ended our fun dive there.
Wednesday 22nd June
After a few days of scenic dives, we were all down for a wreck dive. We have chosen to dive the wreck of S.S Breda, a Dutch cargo-passenger ship sunk in World War II, that lies on the seabed of Ardmucknish Bay. The Breda is regarded as one of the best wreck dives in the UK as it was a quite intact wreck with a lot of interesting things to explore. We dropped down the shot line and reached the bow of the wreck. We dived through two hatches of the wreck, on top of the engine room, down through another two hatches and eventually reached the stern. The wreck lies in a sheltered bay that doesn’t have a lot of current and therefore we saw a lot of plumose anemones that has grown to a relatively big size. We also found a lot of sea squirts, sponges, some little flatfish and even a few silver Pollack throughout the dive as well.
Thursday 23rd June
On this cloudy and rainy morning, we went off to Insh Island.
There are strong tides in this area so we expect to see deadman’s fingers in this dive site. We descended into a kelp forest and peeked through rocks as we dived along. My buddy and I found a few squad lobsters and even a pregnant squad lobster with a bubble underneath its shell! The current was quite strong but it was still a very pleasant dive.
Friday 24th June
Greeted by the wonderful Scottish summer weather again early in the morning, we left for the last dive of the summer trip somewhere outside Ardentallen, where I did my Sports Diver 30m progression dive. As a UoNSAC tradition, we ate out in a local curry house in the small town of Oban that evening (last night of the summer trip): giving out awards and drinking pints of course. Oban bay was beautiful as well, look at that view below!
Saturday 25th June
We bid goodbye to the spectacular Oban in the morning and headed back Nottingham.
I always like a variety of dives and therefore Oban is perfect as it provides scenic, wreck as well as exciting drift dives. The extraordinary Scottish summer weather was also very generous to us that I even got a tan after this trip (definitely wasn’t expecting this). This was my first trip to Oban and it is easy for me to say that I will definitely be back another time – I promise it’s not only because of the scallops (or maybe it is).
Photos taken and written by Ting-Hoi Chan (Treasurer 2015-2016)