The historic waters of Scapa Flow undoubtedly deserve their place on 'the ultimate wreck diving bucket list'. For centuries this natural maritime haven has sheltered many ships, including the Royal Navy home fleet and the interred German High Seas fleet. And where you get ships, you also get wrecks and Orkney's are diverse!
From Churchill's blockships dotted along the rugged coastline, to dramatic battleships, the wrecks of Scapa Flow continue to fascinate and enthrall divers.
Over 2,000 divers a year make a personal pilgrimage to the Orkney Islands to dive these beautiful wrecks. Next month, there is a trip with a difference, being run between Saturday 23rd to Saturday 29th April 2016. Wreck historian Rod McDonald and Instructor Trainer Paul Haynes are leading a unique history week based on board liveaboard MV Huskyan.
MV Huskyan is quite a special boat. Many of the UK's liveaboards are converted trawlers, Royal Navy ships and lifeboats. What makes the MV Huskyan unique is that she is the first purpose built UK liveaboard. She is also pretty new having been launched just last year (2015). Her clever design ensures that she is a comfortable, stable diving platform and she benefits from a massive 33 m² dive deck. There is access straight from the dive deck into a heated wet changing room, with a kit store to hang your drysuit. Below deck the Huskyan has central heating, two showers, two heads, a large dry changing room with individual lockers and cabins.
The naval architect who designed MV Huskyan took into account that divers travel with equipment and they need smooth logistics. Gear gulpers can easily slide beneath the wide benches, and gas mixes (air, nitrox, trimix and oxygen) are provided by two booster pumps and two Bauer compressors. There is a kit fettling bench, camera dunk tank and a stainless steel diver lift capable of accommodating tech divers and their multiple stages. She makes diving Scapa Flow a fun and enjoyable experience.
Diving Scapa does not necessarily mean you have to dive deep. The wrecks are in a variety of depths, lying in 12 metres to 45 metres. I first fell in love with Scapa in June 1996. It was on one of the very best dives I have ever done, and nearly two decades later I still rave about it today. It wasn't a deep dive nor on one of the iconic 'High Seas Fleet' wrecks, but on the shallow blockship Tabarka.
When I dived the Takarka she was upside down, and pretty much intact. Inside she looked a bit like a half timbered house without the plaster infills. That day the atmosphere inside the wreck was strongly reminiscent of a cathedral as the sunlight streamed through the portholes, echoing the effect of stained glass in a church. And the visibility? It was mouth wateringly clear. But, shame on me, I don't know her history. Where as she built? And why was she chosen to be a blockship? She made such a profound effect on me twenty years ago, that I really ought to know more about her.
And this is where respected author Rod Macdonald comes in. During this 'Maritime History Week' Rod adds a new dimension to your wreck diving. The story of Scapa Flow and its remarkable wrecks have long inspired Rod Macdonald, so much so that his first book - 'Dive Scapa Flow' was published over 20 years ago. It has remained a perennial best seller and is now on its fourth edition. During the trip Rod brings these magnificent large hunks of metal to life. Each wreck has a fascinating story and Rod tells you about the kind of world these ships launched into. For instance the Kaiser's fleet was pretty much cutting edge because it was almost new when it was skuttled. But who served on these ships? What was life like on board? How and why did they sink? And why were the Brits really not that upset that this huge fleet now sat at the bottom of Scapa Flow?
The diving aspect of this unique trip has not been overlooked either. Rod's professional partner is instructor trainer Paul Haynes. Paul has a twenty-five year career in diving, serving as a military diver before becoming a diving consultant and instructor trainer in the diving industry. During this trip you will be given the opportunity to gain personal coaching time with Paul to improve and advance your diving.
There is also the opportunity for apres dive trips - with visits to the Stromness Museum, Lyness visitor centre and Skara Brae prehistoric dwellings planned. At present there are just six spaces left. The price of this trip is normally £720 but due to a last minute cancellation the deposits have been held over, making each place now only £650. This includes diving from the MV Huskyan and self catering accommodation in 'Divers Lodge' located just five minutes from where the Huskyan moors up. (This lodge provides modern, fully furnished, private self-catering accommodation located in the heart of Stromness).
To secure your place on this unique trip or to get additional questions answered, email James Rogers or telephone +44 (0) 7584 666 672.