When Batman asked if I would like to go to Scapa, I jumped at the chance. It is a place I had always wanted to visit.. So, plane ticket in hand and bags packed.. I was all set.
Scapa Flow is one of Britain’s most historic stretches of water located within the Orkney Islands, off the north-east coast of Scotland. It’s sheltered waters have been used by ships since prehistory and it has played an important role in travel, trade and conflict throughout the centuries – especially during both World Wars..
The group consisted of Batman, Boy wonder, Betsy and Betsy, the Dangerous brothers, Pie man, Plod, DT and Myself!
The plane journey was uneventful, well apart from nearly missing our connection from Inverness to Kirkwall. Oh, yes, and having to explain at every opportunity my pony cylinder was empty. We arrived at Kirkwall, met pie man and set off to Stromness, all squished into a taxi. When we arrived, we all breathed a sigh of relief as we have arrived with our entire luggage (small miracle!) and went to check in to our B&B, the Ferry Inn. Seemed a nice place, the less said about that the better, although, Betsy’s totally addicted to bass now. So, Just “Geeeet ooooot”
We got ourselves sorted out in the B&B, took our stuff to the boat, the MV invincible. An old fishing trawler that was the size of an ocean liner.. Well, that’s what it felt like when it came to pick up. Had a look round the boat, faffed with more stuff and then the kit nightmare started… everything that anyone touched went wrong. First stages, regs, cylinder valves, dry suit zips, you name it, it broke!
Would the next day be more successful, had the aqua-sure held Boy wonder’s zip?
The next morning arrived, we tucked in to a hearty breakfast, a large bowl of porridge, several kippers but just the two bowls of fruit for Betsy and Betsy (Carol V would be proud!) All faces fed, we headed to the boat. What would go wrong with the kit? Had pie man come prepared with more spare diving kit than the local scuba shop, or would Boy Wonder save the day with his spare regs again…
The day started smoothly, and continued. Our first dive was one of the battle cruisers, Dresden, sitting in about 33m of water… As the week went on and we dived a variety of ships that has been sunk during the First World War. Brummer, Karlshulhe, Coln and not forgetting the go-bananas (actually the Gobernador Bories!) By far, my favourite dive was the James Barrie, which is a fishing trawler and not a WW1 wreck. Sunk in March 1969, she was referred to as the ghost ship as her 21 crew abandoned her after she was badly holed. She was adrift for about two days before she finally sunk after intervention from the Kirkwall lifeboat. The Doyle was another fantastic wreck. Upside down, you have a great swim through. Visibility on most dives was good and water temperature was about 12 degrees C, which is a bit chilly, especially when you clock up 38 minutes of deco on one of the dives!
All agreed the diving was really good, and the entertainment in Stromness was shopping week, this involved lots of drinking by the locals. Not to be outdone and too appear “one of the locals”, Batman entered the yard of ale competition; it was definitely a fix that he didn’t win!
The last day had come and all at a lose end, we thought we would have a days sight seeing, so, Plod with his connections, called Jimmy Poke (which is his real name) and did a deal (yes, it was for cash) to borrow the mini bus for the day to do some sight seeing.
Unfortunately, the heavens opened and a whole weeks worth of rain fell. All stocked through to the skin, we took to looking at the sights through the mini bus window, with the exception of Dave, Betsy and Dangerous 1 who ran round the Ring of Brodgar. The last day had drawn to a close. Off for an- other hearty meal and a few drinkies, well, quite a few for Dangerous 2.
So many things had happened in a week, the bagpipes playing at 2am, the locals being thrown out by the bar staff shouting “geeeeet ooooot”, the roller coaster ride to the Kirkwall curry house, Jimmy Crankie look alike winning the ladies yard of ale competition, the journey to Twatt, the endless chips that Batman and Pieman ate, the numerous attempts to dive the Tabarkka, toy throwing about no vegetarian starters, the extra portions of curry, the six lamb chops and five kippers fiasco!. After a weeks diving and eating more porridge, kippers and haggis than you could ever imagine, we set off home. All packed and with more excess luggage than posh spice, we were off home.
Thanks Batman for a good trip to Scapa… Shame the luggage was a few days late!