SCILLY ISLES 24-31 AUG 13 – 2 SPACES LEFT
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1. Incredible reefs, fabulous walls, spectacular wrecks, historical cannon sites, abundant marine life and ever playful seals – all in a days diving, when you happen to be diving in the Isles of Scilly. This is a recreational trip for 10 divers from Saturday, 24 to Saturday, 31 August 2013, (taking in the August Bank Holiday Monday on the 26th), it includes six days boat diving with two dives each day from Sunday, 25 to Friday 30, August 2013.
The Scillies form an archipelago of five inhabited islands, all popular holiday destinations, each with its own special character and numerous other small rocky islets and outcrops (around 140 in total), lying 45 kilometres (28 miles) off Lands End that form the most south-westerly point of England. The islands are known for their crystal clear underwater visibility, providing an outstanding experience for divers. In 1975 the islands were designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and have got to be one of the best places for diving around the British Isles. If you’re considering a diving holiday in the UK, I thoroughly recommend putting the Isles of Scilly on your ‘must do’ dive list.
2. Reefs & Walls. The islands’ geographic position on the edge of the gulf-stream means the sea is extremely rich in marine nutrients, attracting a wealth of varied and dynamic sealife. The outer reef walls emerge from incredible depths creating the most fascinating underwater landscapes that include stunning gigantic underwater rock formations and reef walls full of thriving marine life, covered in colourful fauna, rare sponges, cup corals and reefs with football sea squirts and protected sea fans. Marine biologists and enthusiastic underwater photographers visit these isolated tranquil islands several times a year to look for and record more rare species.
3. Historical Wrecks. The Isles of Scilly have a number of shipwrecks of historical and archaeological importance, some of which are protected. Under licence and surveillance, permission has been obtained from English Heritage to take our dive group to these sites which are the Bartholomew, Colossus and Tearing Ledge. Since AD 1300 several hundred ships have been recorded sinking among the picturesque but voracious island rocks. Some of the more important and historic of these cannon shipwrecks are the Association, Eagle and Firebrand. The remains of these three wrecks reveal a large number of cannons, anchors and artifacts.
In 1798 the British Royal Naval Second Rate warship, HMS Colossus was wrecked in south-westerly gale in shallow water at Southward Wells, near Sampson. Homeward bound with a valuable collection of Etruscan Vases and valuable artifacts - the private collection of Sir William Hamilton, an intimate friend of Admiral Nelson. Part of her remains were discovered in 1974 and in 1999 another large section of the hull was located some distance away from the earlier site. Five large 18 pound cannon sticking almost upright from their respective gun ports and a remarkable stern carving of a figure 3.5 metres long. This protected site with its exposed timbers and hull structure make a fascinating and enjoyable dive in around 11 to 17 metres, depending on the tide.
4. Modern Wrecks. There are plenty of them scattered around the Scillies, these include the Cita, a 3,000 ton bulk carrier that sunk in 1997, the Charlotte, the Plympton 1909 and Hathor 1920 – possibly the two most famous shipwrecks in the Scillies that lie one on top of the other off St Agnes Island. The King Cadwallen 1906 lies off Hard Lewis Rocks and offers a very enjoyable dive beginning at 20 metres on the boilers. The Brinkburn 1898, a 3,200 ton steamer that lies off the back of Bryher under Maiden Bower, and the list goes on. If possible, I’d like to try and dive the broken remains of the Torrey Caynon – a supertanker capable of carrying a cargo of 120,000 tons of crude oil, which was shipwrecked in March 1967 causing an environmental disaster. At that time, this was the largest vessel ever to be wrecked. The majority of dive sites I’ve looked at appear to fall within the 10 to 30 metre depth range, but their are some that go to 40 metres and beyond.
5. Our boat for the week is Tiburon, a 35′ fast Offshore 105 based in St Mary’s, I’m told by our skipper David McBride, Tiburon means ‘Shark’ in Spanish. Dave is an experienced diver and accomplished underwater photographer with unrivalled local knowledge of the best dive sites to be found in the Scillies. Depending on the tides and prevailing weather conditions, the boat usually leaves between 8.30 am to 9 am and returns to port between 2 pm to 3 pm each day, so we’ll have plenty of time to relax and explore St Mary’s and the other islands.
6. About St Mary’s. We’re staying on St Mary’s, the largest of the inhabited islands at 2½ miles by 1¾ miles and home to about three quarters of Scilly’s population of 1,666, according to the 2001 census. It has a Town Hall, hospital/health centre, banks and most of the shops, including a Co-Op supermarket and larger hotels. Hugh Town is the ‘capital’ of the islands and where we’ll be staying, it is situated on the sandbar which separates the Garrison from the rest of the island. The passenger ferry to Penzance and a fleet of colourful inter-island launches operate from the quay. There is a circular bus service that operates on the nine miles of narrow road, linking most of the island’s communities. Various coach, minibus and vintage car tours run during the summer, bicycles can be hired and taxis are normally available throughout the year.
St Mary’s has an Anglican, Methodist and a Roman Catholic Church, five public houses, hotel bars, a social club, disco, cafes and restaurants. A particularly beautiful spot is the Carreg Dhu Community Garden in the centre of St Mary’s. There are many ancient monuments to be discovered on the island from a megalithic village and tombs to Civil War fortifications. The small museum in Hugh Town and the Heritage Centre in the middle of the island, display much of Scilly’s rich history.
7. Accommodation. I have made a number enquiries regarding bed & breakfast accommodation in Hugh Town and we have options I am considering. At the time of writing these details, this trip is still 18 months away! With this in mind, I have provisionally booked the Schiller Bed & Breakfast run by Sarah McBride our skipper’s wife, although Schiller is located a little out of Hugh Town and I would prefer to be based in the centre. I’ll take another look towards the end of this season and firm up details when I can.
8. Getting there. You can fly to the Scilly Isles from 6 UK airports but given we need to transport our dive gear, including cylinders, the most practical and ecomonical option is to catch the passenger ferry, Scillonian III from Penzance to St Mary’s. Based on the current 2012 sailing schedule, the Saturday morning crossing sails at 10.30 am and takes 2.5 hours, approx. price £47.50 - arriving at 1.15 pm, check in time is 1 hr before sailing. The return journey on the following Saturday leaves St Mary’s at 16.30 pm and arrives back in Penzance at 7.15 pm, approx. price £42.50 - check-in time is 45 minutes before sailing.
Dive gear is charged for separately and can be paid for on an individual basis at around £20 each way and you’ll have the worry of your gear being transported in a general passenger container. The better option (which I’ve arranged) , is to hire a cargo container and share the cost between the group, currently it’s £160 each way – that’s only £16 each. Our container will be placed on the quayside at Penzance around 9 am for us to fill and put on the quayside when we arrive at St Mary’s. Dave McBride will meet us at the ferry and help us take our gear to the Tiburon, only a short walk away.
Important. Tiburon stays offshore for both dives each day, so you’ll need two cylinders if you plan to dive using a single cylinder, twin-set divers may wish to bring a single cylinder for decanting between dives.
Please note. The Scillonian III is a passenger ferry only, so you will have to leave your car parked in Penzance for the week and share the parking & petrol cost with your passengers.
According to RAC Route Planner, it’s 283 miles from SW19, South West London and the journey time is approximately 4.5 hrs, (we’ll sort out car sharing arrangements nearer the time). I plan to head off on Friday morning to explore Penzance as I’ve not been there before and make a day of it, staying overnight in Penzance and recommend you do the same, if you can.
9. Gas fills. You will need to arrive on St Mary’s with FULL CYLINDERS for the first days diving. Currently only air fills are available in the Isles of Scilly, this may have changed by August 2013, I’ll keep you posted. 12 ltr & 15 ltr air fills are £4 each and a twin-set fill is £8. Cylinders will be collected from the boat each day and returned filled, first thing in the morning. The guy who does the air fills charges dive groups an additional £50 a week for cylinder pick-up and delivery, which is only another £5 each.
10. This trip costs £565, it includes six days diving, two dives per day, seven nights bed & breakfast accommodation and return container hire aboard the Scillonian III.
11. It excludes the cost of getting there (it’s 283 miles from SW19, South West London – we’ll sort out car sharing arrangements nearer the time), car parking for the week in Penzance, the return ferry crossing approx £90, gas fills including pick-up & delivery – single cylinder diving approx £45 – twin-set diving including decanting cylinder approx £65, optional overnight stay in Penzance Friday, 23 allow £40 (it’s the high season), other meals including something to eat on the boat, drinks and general spending money.
12. Diver certification, dive kit and previous experience. All diving will be planned within recreational limits down to 40 metres, and subject to prevailing weather and sea conditions each day. Minimum diver qualification is PADI Advanced Open Water and Deep Diver Speciality or equivalents, the ability to deploy a DSMB is essential, some boat diving experience would be useful. Having further PADI certifications in Wreck Diving and possibly Enriched Air Diving or equivalents will help you to get the most out of this trip. Full scuba diving kit, including an appropriate exposure suit, DSMB, reel and a good torch – having a back up mask, DSMB and torch is a good idea. If you plan to use a single cylinder, carrying a redundant air supply such as a Pony cylinder is highly recommended on deep dives. Divers must be over 21 years of age and logged 50 dives. If this is your first trip with the organiser, you will be asked to provide evidence of your certification and experience, remember to bring your logbook and certification cards with you.
13. To book a place on this trip a £95 deposit is required as soon as possible (places are offered on a first come, first served basis), a further £175 is required by 31 August 2012, and the balance of £295 is payable 12 weeks (84 days) before the trip, that’s Saturday, 1 June 2013. You can choose to pay by bank transfer – account name: diversonline sort code: 08-92-99 account number: 69513224 or by credit card using the diversonline PayPal account, the address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
14. Cancellation policy. Deposit refunds for cancellations made in advance of the balance due date can only be given once the trip is full and another diver has taken your place. For cancellations made after the balance has been paid, no refund can be given until your place is sold to another diver. If we are successfull, you will receive a full refund, minus any reduction agreed between you and the buyer of your place. In the event of adverse weather conditions or “force majeur” causing cancellation of the arrangements, your payment for that part of the booking will be refunded after the trip. This only applies to day boat charter fees, it excludes accommodation, admission fees and liveaboards, unless specifically stated in the trip details.
15. Health and saftey on the trip. It is important you listen carefully to all safety briefings while you are on this trip and follow the instructions you are given at all times, both in and out of the water. Make sure you dive within the limits of your dive certification, experience and comfort level. If you experience a dive related problem, make others aware of it immediately. Familiarise yourself with each dive site where possible and agree a dive plan with your buddy. In an emergency, you are reminded you have responsibility for the first actions to effect a successful rescue, without endangering yourself.
16. Please note. Care has been taken to ensure the information about this trip is both a fair and accurate representation of what you will receive and the magnitude of cost you will incur. Neither diversonline or the trip organiser accept any responsibility for errors, omissions or changes which may result in an increase in cost and/or changes to the itinerary. By booking a place on this trip, you accept that diversonline and the trip organiser have no duty of care to you or others on the trip and understand we are merely facilitating the hire of the boat and accommodation.
17. To book a place on this trip or for more information:
Contact Ken Powell on 07989 387792 or email email@example.com
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Posted in Trips on February 19th, 2012 | Comments Off