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Saturday, 21 September 2019
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The August Bank Holiday trips to St Abbs and Kimmeridge

View of Starney Bay (M.W.)
We had decided that the late August bank holiday would take us to St Abbs for the week leading up to the bank holiday, and then dive out of Eyemouth for the bank holiday weekend.
With the weather not looking to promising, and given the long drive, the group that would go up to Scotland was medium size, and we only needed one boat.
Most of us were going to stay in tents at High View camp site in Coldingham, and Paylo had rented a caravan at Scoutscroft to share with Colin T., Duncan, Dave, Jens and me.
Jens and I drove up to Scotland on a dismally gray and rainy Sunday, only to arrive at Scoutscroft in the midst of a howling gale. So no wonder we were quite chaffed with Paylo for getting us our double glazed caravan (and our bedroom with en-suite bathroom). Imagine having to set up tent in a force 9 North Easterly when it's chucking down with rain. We definitely didn't envy the Tanners, who were the only campers to arrive on the same day.
Jelly fish (M.W.)
On Monday, the storm had calmed a bit but we still had force 6-7, and it blew in from the North, so there was no way we could go diving. Anyway, Piney was yet to arrive with Mc Kie in tow. We decided to have a snoop around at Eyemouth to check out whether it would be easier to dive from there if the weather would stay difficult.
Eyemouth Harbour is one of the biggest fishing industry harbours on the Scottish East coast. The building that houses the harbour master's office also is home to a fish market, an exhibition on the local fishing industry, and a dive shop. The chaps in the dive shop let us have a brochure on the local dive sites, but no information on exact GPS marks.
Piney arrived on Monday night, and we were at St Abbs harbour by 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The wind had calmed down a bit, and we managed to get 2 dives in. For both dives, we stayed close to the harbour and dived in Starney Bay. Diving in the still churned up sea was a bit of a washing machine experience, with the wave action still quite discernible at 10 m.
Lobster at Petticowick
Wednesday the wind had calmed to a Northerly force 5, but the sea was now churned up and waves were higher than the day before. Duncan and Piney took McKie out and back into the harbour twice to see how manoeuvrable the RHIB would be in these conditions. St Abbs' harbour entrance and fairway are very narrow, and it was decided to wait till the afternoon when the swell would hopefully have calmed down.
Well, in that case there was nothing to do but to sample the goodies on offer at the newly established café at the southern side of St Abbs harbour. It is a lovely place and the faire is great - despite a persisting shortage of coleslaw (that is apparently due to a not entirely reliable groceries deliverer). We instantly established that the new caf would be our favourite haunt between dives, and in the following days Colin made it part of his marshal's mission to vociferously assure a steady supply of cakes to all our gang.
In the afternoon we did another dive in Starney Bay, just south of the Wuddy, on boulders covered so completely in black Brittle Stars that it looked like a carpet.
By Thursday, our luck had turned: Whilst the wind had backed to a North Westerly force 3-4, the sea was going flatter by the hour, the vis improved, with 12+ on Friday, and the sea as flat as a pancake.
Wolf Fish off St Abbs Head (M.W.)
We saw Wolf Fish, Dahlia Anemones as big as plates, Pipe Fish, Scorpion fish and various squat lobster species galore, plus the biggest-ever lobster with claws the size of a man's lower arm. On Friday and Saturday, we even got a bit of whale watching: Mink Whales had come to the area to feed on the plankton that had already attracted large shoals of herring.
Our most exotic discovery, though, were some fellow pet Germans: Our neighbours at Scoutscroft were members of Richmond SAC, and they had brought friends from a Lake Constance dive club with them. I used to live at Lake Constance when I was a child, and in my memory it is Germany's most beautiful region: The Lake is so big that you can't see to the other side, and the Alps rise in the South. So you can imagine how exited I was to meet divers from there. They told me that there's a paddle steamer in Lake Constance. The steamer sunk in the 19th century, is still well preserved and makes one of the best sweet water wreck dives in Europe. Some day, I shall go and explore.
Mink Whale outside Horsecastle Bay (M.W.)
With the diving out of St Abbs now being extremely good, we had decided not to go down to Eyemouth for the weekend, and just stay where we were, despite the fact that the place would get packed. And surely enough, by Saturday, St Abbs was heaving with divers. We were down at the car park at 8. a.m. only to find that some people had actually coned off a section of the cheaper car park directly by the water line. Fortunately, we had been diving all week, and that had impressed the harbour master favourably, so he helped us get a spot for all our cars plus most of the later arrivals at the end of the lower car park - so we had all the Guildford gang together.

Trigger Fish at Kimmeridge (M.C.)
Jens and I left on Sunday, but from what I have heard, the diving continued to be phantastic and people readily agreed that this was there best week of the season.
John Dory at Kimmeridge (J.B.)
Yet, there was more going on: The people who could not take time off for a whole week to drive all the way up to Scotland made a quick decision to go down to Kimmeridge for the Bank Holiday. I have heard that they had a great a time, too: Judging from the images I have seen, visibility at Kimmeridge was very good, too, and people spotted a shoal of Trigger Fish, a John Dory and several other exciting critters. So everybody got some really good diving in over the Bank Holiday. And wait till you see Wally's Lamorna films of our lot swimming with the Basking sharks - it seems that after a dire summer, Neptune has decided to let us have some of the best weeks ever!

Corinna Heipcke
Martin Walters
James Brinkworth
Mark Chopping

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