Farne Islands 2009

Tuesday 25th August 2009 and on my way to yet another Farnes, I hope I never get bored with it up there. Early start to miss M25 rush hour and then get up the A1M as quick as possible. We are going up 4 days early before the diving starts for a holiday and to sort things out. 37 people from the club going this year (55 last year), with 20 of us diving on Glad Tidings 7. We dive on the Farne Islands which comes under the National Trust and is noted for its large amount of sea birds and grey seals (rarest in the world and largest surviving carnivores in the UK).

There is plenty to do in this fantastic area, so well worth going up a few days early, as half of us did. We all stay in an award winning caravan site with excellent amenities, with a large indoor swimming pool to retire to after diving if needed and a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi to relax in as well. Also a Health and Beauty shop for the girls, us rugged men divers don’t need it as much!? The rest of the crowd followed us up on Friday 28th at various times with the last 3 people to arrive being Marius, Ian and Gail; they arrived in the early hours. They were our Farnes virgins along with Rory and they all did very well in choppy and sometimes cold conditions and managed 20 dives between them.

We always try to take along as many newcomers as possible; it’s a good opening to UK diving and when the seals want to come out to play, as they did again this year, it’s fun as well as a good test of buoyancy skills in shallow waters and some currents. Sunday was especially good with the Seals, with many very close encounters, Gail having to push one over enthusiastic seal away several times and Marcela stroking and tickling one for ages, I thought she was going to take it home with her at one time. Gren was busy filming all of this as usual, assisted by Sarah, as you’ll have seen on the website. One sneaky seal came up behind me and undid my BC pocket and let out my Delayed SMB, it just floated past my eyes to my utter amazement. Unfortunately as a precautionary measure, we had to call out the helicopter on the Sunday for one of our group, who was lifted to the surface by an upward current from 7 metres. He was put on O2 immediately and was taken to the Hospital for further O2 treatment as a precaution after saying he felt sick. They continued his O2 treatment for a further four hours and then he was released later that evening and returned to take part in the BBQ.

We had the usual kit malfunctions and mishaps, not untying tanks first, almost forgotten weight belts, dry suit zips not being done up, torn seals (the drysuit variety), my zip finally decided to give up the ghost ( it’s teeth fell out, that’s what happens when you get old). I had to borrow Duncan’s ( a dive boat crew member) dry suit for the rest of the weekend and the equipment officer ( Bret) decided to go diving with NO neck seal at all, obviously needs more training. Graham found a novel way of wearing his weight belt, round his ankles when he got back on the boat, watched in amazement by his buddy Venessa, good to see her back in the water after James. Graham also forgot to mention his split hose and un-zipped suit as well. He had a good weekend! And that’s just the mishaps I noticed or they owned up to. But we all got in, got out and managed over a hundred dives between us. Many thanks to Gren for yet again organising the 40 plus tanks each evening which needed filling and for sorting the finances for them as well. And thanks to my assistant dive marshall (Marcela) and also to everybody for loading and unloading the boat each day so quickly and efficiently.

We did our customary group meals on Saturday and Monday evenings at the Lodge and only just managed a BBQ on Sunday evening avoiding the showers by the skin of our teeth, many thanks to the chefs Brian D and Chris K and all my lovely lady salad makers and my caravan monitors, who supplied the basics for each caravan. At the BBQ plenty of beer and wine was drunk and then Marius appeared with some Slovakian fire water, which had to be sampled. Everybody then seemed to migrate to my caravan to continue drinking, as there was no obvious party caravan this year, we must be all growing up at last or the bad boys and girls didn’t come this year!?

Most afternoons where spent relaxing in the pool area after the diving, although some people ventured along the beach or toured the village shops. We had several non-diving trip members and children with us, so it was good to link-up with them in the afternoons as well. Seahouses is a lovely village with numerous pubs which always seem to be packed, especially when our crowd get up there, Drinking must be a national pastime up here. We were partly joined by Hampton BSAC, consisting of several ex-K&E members, for a drink one evening. Good to renew old friendships!? Some faces not seen at the club for a long time. On the bank Holiday Monday there was a fair overlooking the sea and a RNLI exhibition and the village was packed with people, with a great atmosphere and lots to do and see. I just followed tradition and went to the Ship Inn with some of the regulars and dive boat crew for a few beers and de-Briefing, I’ve been up here a few times now and I’m starting to understand the locals now. As always it was a great week and the weather just about stayed good for us. I will be doing this trip again next year and the list will be going up very soon, so watch out for it on the board.