Dryfix News

Bottom Times - Its not all about work

25th July 2011


2011 another late start to the diving season which seems to have become a progressive trend over the past two years. Its early May, and by now I would normally have clocked up a few dives with trips to quarries during the cold Jan and Feb months and possibly a visit to the lake district and Farne islands by now. As it happens, this season only a few traditional new year dives in Capernwray and an early trip to Wales is all I’ve managed, luckily though I've had a long awaited trip to Scapa Flow on the horizon just stopping my thoughts of drying out.....

For those of you who don't know Scapa, it’s a stretch of water located within the Orkney Islands off the Northeast coast of Scotland and until the 1970's was primary anchorage to our elite Royal Navy.

So what's the attraction?

Scapa became an underwater museum following defeat of Germany in the First World War, when 74 ships of the German imperial Navy High Seas Fleet were interned pending a decision on their future in the peace Treaty of Versailles. On 21 June 1919 German officer in command Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, had given the order following weeks of planning to scuttle the ships, sending them to the seabed and prevent their falling into British hands - that's the attraction one of the world top 10 dive destinations.

After a long 12 hour car journey, bed and breakfast sleep over and 90 minute ferry ride, we arrived in Stromness. Our dive base for the week was the local live-aboard dive boat the MV Invincible run by Ian & wife Fiona Trumpess. The Invincible was tied to the dock alongside the Ferry pier looking very good in her bright red livery. Our initial favorable impression of the accommodation this boat provides were proven to be correct as the week progressed. It provided a warm and comfortable platform from which to dive.


Watch the video here www.youtube.com/user/dryfixpreservation

My dive buddies for the week were Brian Goddard and Mark Byrne, both really experienced divers and good friends. Both Bri and Mark dive a closed circuit rebreather system meaning no bubbles and limited decompression, whilst I was diving with good, reliable and faultless cylinders filled with air.

The first dive of the week was a light cruiser the "Brummer" lying on its starboard (right) side in 34 meters of water. The plan for the dive, was simple; nice easy dive to break in the trip and kick start my season, with a decent up and down the shot line and a tour bow - stern of the wreck, expected visibility 8 - 10 meters if we were lucky!

Rebreather technology allows my buddies to stay under the water for longer without being too exposed to increasing levels of dangerous nitrogen gas bubbling in their blood stream. This meant in order for me to keep up with them on challenging dives I had to carry two 12 Ltr steel cylinders with air and one 7 Ltr cylinder full of 90% Oxygen (nitrox), (a total 5040 Ltrs of air and 1540 Ltrs of Nitrox).

Just kitted up and sat on the bench awaiting my first dip in the sea this year, I was feeling slightly apprehensive and under prepared for the dive, due to lack of pre-check dives this year and having never dived in Scapa, not knowing what to expect of the conditions.

All equipment checked, not wanting to weigh myself down with additional task loading or carrying needless equipment on my first dive I decided to remove what ever kit I deemed unnecessary; pocket tables, additional computer, stage bottle (NX 90% as I wasn't anticipating long decompression.

Just as I had practically finished de-cluttering myself Brian was up and in the race for 1st position in the water, this is something you get used to when diving with Brian, 1st in and last out. I never forget asking Brian about my air consumption one year in Egypt when I first started diving. "How would I know if I was breathing too much air?" I asked, "You'll feel my hands tighten around your neck!" Brian really loves his diving......

First in, down the shot line, and a fantastic dive in 12 metre viz. I can't remember too much about the Brummer, as I was so awestruck by the size, the guns, and how intact the wreck was considering almost 90 years on the seabed.

Anyhow, after 57 minutes bottom time on the wreck at 35 meters, we decided it was time to leave. Back to the shot and up to my first decompression stop, Computer says 17 minutes decompression at 12, 9 and 6 meters, that's bloody good I thought!
Brian and Mark had around 8 and 10 minutes respectively.

The rest of the dive became a bit of a nightmare. Bri and Mark quickly ticked off their deco, but for some reason my computer was counting down my very slowly, and Bri and I were left hanging for a long time. It turned out I had programmed my VR3 computer that I was decompressing on NX 90%. When I had decided to leave my stage bottle (NX 90%) on the boat thinking I wouldn't need it, I had forgotten to turn off the 90% in the gas list. When I didn't switch gases as my computer instructed, it was forced to extend the time to surface well beyond what it was predicting.

Eventually after 108 Minutes in the water (1 hour 48 minutes) my computer had been indicating one minute for at least four minutes, we decided to surface.

The rest of the weeks diving went fantastically well, with excellent dives and visibility in the 10 to 15 metre range. We managed to dive all the cruisers, the Karlesruhre, Dresden, Brummer and my favourite the KÖln. Our dive on the Koln was in 15 metre visibility, with excellent ambient light. The main mast on this wreck is stunning, running out along the sea bed, support cables still intact and festooned in soft coral.

The two battle ships we dived, the Kron Prinze Wilhelm and the Margraf were equally impressive. Both are inverted, the Kron Prinze has sufficient space under the starboard gunwhale to reach the main guns. Both the front turrets are accessible and are an imposing sight. The Margraf is completely inverted but the secondary side armament is imposing in itself. At the stern the huge rudders stand tall through the water an truly awesome sight.

If you've been diving years and have never been to Scapa before, you’r missing out! This was definitely the best week’s worth of diving I have ever done. We are so fortunate to have such a fantastic wreck diving location on our shores. It is clear to those who have dived the wrecks for years that the passage of time is taking its toll. Now is the time to dive these wrecks to experience them at their best.

Thank you Brian I owe you one!


Watch the video on YouTube

Contact MV Invincible

Ian Trumpess
KW16 3JP
Tel No: 01856 851110



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