Dive Report from Scapa Flow

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Posted by Tunnel Rat Richard on July 27, 2005 at 08:25:11:

Virtually the entire German WWI naval fleet was scuttled in Scapa Virtually the entire German WWI naval fleet was scuttled in Scapa Flow (Orkney Islands, Scotland) in 1919. Scapa Flow was also an important British naval base in WWII. Today, there are several dive operations in the area catering to wreck divers. I went on the Sunrise Charters dive boat (out of Stromness) with a group from London, July 8-16 (spent the rest of the month touring Scottish Highlands). The dive trip was similar to what boat diving was probably like in California in the 60s-- smallish boat (Atlantis size) even for just 12 divers, self-catering (the passengers brought and cooked their own food), and 2 heads that worked some of the time. The boat tied up each night at whatever island we happened to be nearest. Water conditions: very similar to San Francisco Bay-- 48-50 deg. F, 10-15 ft. visibility at best, seas 3-6 ft. most of the time. Tidal flow: 12 knots at times, so diving was limited to 2 dives per day. Diving depth ranged from 40-130 ft.; nitrox was available onboard. Diving was "live-boat"-- we were dropped off in the water, deployed "delayed submersible marker bouys" (DSMBs) when ready to come up, and grabbed the boat ladder and climbed back aboard as it went by each marker bouy. No deckhand help-- you got back aboard the boat yourself with all your gear, or you didn't go in the water in the first place. Weather: cool (50-55 deg. F), really windy, rainy virtually all the time (this is their summer). Wrecks: German WWI battleships, destroyers; British WWI destroyers, WWII tankers, transports. Overall diving/trip assessment: cold hard challenging diving for experienced divers only. Overall experience touching WWI wrecks: priceless. (I'm going back next year.)

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