It’s a long way to Scapa Flow - 680 miles to Scrabster, followed by a 90-minute ferry ride from Scotland to Stromness. Some started their journey on Thursday evening. Aileen and I left London early-doors on a Friday. We kept ourselves entertained thanks to good old Spotify with its sing-along playlists, and the drive passed surprisingly quickly! We reached our destination of the day - Scrabster where we settled in at the Ferry Inn for an overnight stay and enjoyed some delightful fish and chips and a local brew.
On the following morning we set sail for Stromness where we were met by our delightful host and hostess Ben and Emily, owners of MV Huskyan and the Divers Lodge. Our gear was craned onto the boat. Wow she was a beauty, the boat that is! Emily keeps a tight ship as the boat was spanking new and clean, divided by a wet room (dry suits only) and dry everywhere else. Downstairs was a fabulous and warm locker room area for us to store and dry our gear for the week along with a ladies only en suite bathroom! Upstairs was where we were wined and dined with wonderful home cooked meals and a yummy desert each day. We then settled into the Lodge, our base for the week a short walk away from the Huskyan, right in the centre of town and conveniently 43 steps away from the pub!
On the first dive morning we woke to a beautiful red sunrise which however is not to shepherds delight but that didn’t deter us in any shape or form. We divided ourselves into three "buddy" groups, the JJ-CCR scooter group (Aileen, Nick, Andris), the twins group (Kristine, Michael, George) and myself along with Peet and Deb on the single tanks. As soon as we set sail we were presented with a dive brief like no other. Emily has an astounding bundle of history and knowledge on the Scapa wrecks and pictures of how the ships looked in their day to present-day 3D images and dive pictures of points of interest/features to look out for. She tailored her briefings for each group so that everyone could maximise their time on the wreck.
Diving in Scapa Flow is really was like no other. I was rather nervous to begin with considering I hadn’t had a dry run in my new dry suit but thankfully I all was good. The Dresden was our first wreck dive of the day followed by Karlsruhe which again was another light cruiser. I was surprised by how good the visibility was and as you descended from the shot line it gave you a good chance to see a portion of the wreck and prepare you for what was to come. The battleships - Markgraf, Kronprinz Wilhelm, and Konig - were huge and at times when I’d hear the hum of a scooter zooming by I was tempted to hang on as I was eager to see as much as I could. It gave me a chilling feeling when I’d see a large gun stick out disappearing into the distance. Just to put in perspective the sheer size and its purpose sends shivers down your spine. My favourite of the week was Konig as I got to spend more time on the wreck and saw a lot more.
I am so chuffed and honoured to have spent the week on this amazing boat with a great bunch of like-minded people and I cannot wait to return in 2018. Who is joining me?