The club’s most recent excursion to Loch Long saw ‘one of the best training weekends’ that our BDO, Rob Wilson, has ever experienced during his time with us at Penrith! Saturday saw 30 degree heat and some successful training exercises, including 30m lifts, and sweep searches, as well as personal tours from Billy Sinclair for two of our latest trainees, the two Josh's! This was followed by a successful and somewhat jolly meal in the village of Luss, with the day being concluded by a not so successful camping trip! Sunday, despite being overcast, saw another brilliant training day, with Alan finally completing his Master Diver qualification! Congratulations Alan! We all experienced amazing sea life, from moon jelly fish to crabs and from anemones to leopard gobies! A sincere thanks to both Rob and Billy for making diving an exciting sport and for making the trip such a success!
"Remember your ticket and passport and don't be late for the bus" were the instructions given at the start of this welcome trip to the sunshine in the middle of winter. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go to plan as flat tyres and useless locking wheel nuts caused problems right from the start. However, a heroic rescue drive and a few last minute changes of plans and early morning phone calls/texts soon sorted things out and we were off!
Blue O Two's boat the blue Fin was to be our home for the week and we soon settled into her luxury, becoming well trained like Pavlov's dogs to leap at the sound of the bell and do the next thing (did we just dive? Yes, then it must be time to eat....or sleep....or shop....or dive again?). The people on board were great, the food was fantastic and plentiful and the dive guides and boat staff were fabulously helpful as always, needing you only to look at something and they were on hand to assist.
Highlights of the week ranged from a beaming smile and the exclamation of "There was just so much orange!", through learning about all the different life forms underwater and spotting new and different creatures, to swimming/diving with wild dolphins and a very friendly turtle.
Sadly, all too soon it was time to spend our last day lazing by the pool at the gorgeous Marriott hotel in Hurghada before heading back to the plane and home again, ready to be greeted by the depressing news that the ground temperature in Manchester was a whopping 0 degrees!
All in all, an absolutely fabulous trip. Where to next guys?
On a very wild and windy day, a small but dedicated group of Penrith divers trooped darn sarf to Murrayfield Hospital, Wirral for a visit to the hyperbaric chamber. The day began (after the group from Carlisle finally turned up!!) with a talk about the ways the chamber is used and the dangers of decompression illness.
Then we got to have a go ourselves! First we watched the monitors and dials as the first batch of 10 got taken to the pressure equivalent of 40m and back up again, with a lot of giggling and some 'interesting' views on the camera. Next it was our turn. We filed in and squished up cosily on the benches, putting our computers into the handily provided bucket of water so that they would register the 'dive' too. 'Descending' was an amazing experience with regular ear clearing needed as the temperature rose and the mix of helium in the air began to affect us. Much giggling ensued as we tried to have a sensible (but rather high pitched!) conversation as well as experimenting with whistling and testing the density of the air in front of us. After 10 minutes or so we began the 'ascent'. This again involved a lot of equalisation and a surprisingly chilly return from 30+ to 22 degrees but was taken slowly and carefully with plenty of safety stops - after all, you don't go to the chamber to get bent!
Last of all, we collected a stamp in our log books to remind ourselves of the experience and headed back into the tempestuous outdoors for the journey home. Another great experience experienced and a good time had by all.
The evening of Friday the 13th (no bad luck thankfully, unless you count having to drive straight into the low and very bright sun) found a merry band of Penrith divers driving the 200 or so miles into deepest darkest Scotland, converging on the Furnace Inn and, after a revitalising beverage and warm fire, making our way up the interesting looking track to the B and B, wondering what was in store for us. This proved to be a wonderfully interesting and well appointed place (Goatfield farm, see links) with incredibly friendly owners for whom nothing was too much trouble.
Following a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we made our way to the Quarry View cafe (making sure to ring and book with them well in advance!) for our first day's diving.
The usual dramas of sorting out the correct weighting for a sea dive and getting back into things for those who had not dived for a while commenced but soon settled down into a great dive with huge, egg-laden, bacon-eating crabs and a multitude of other sea life to be seen.
Three quarters of an hour later saw us partaking of some very welcome hot drinks and delightfully sinful chocolate cake in the cafe before a spot of kit re-arrangement and ready for dive 2. This was another great dive although visibility had declined somewhat from the morning, with only minor problems of leaking dry suits and stone-cuddling to deal with!
At this point, most of the group had to depart for the sleety southlands ready for work and other commitments the next day but we left Rob and Alan setting off to refill cylinders and investigate for potential other dive sites further along the shore, hoping for another great day's diving when re-inforcements arrived in the morning.
Thanks for a great (couple of) day(s) Loch Fyne, we'll be back!!!