Isles of Scilly Trip Report
The Isles of Scilly lie about 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall and a group of NHDC divers (and non-divers) recently discovered that they are a beautiful place to spend a week of diving and sightseeing. Five of the islands are inhabited although there are numerous others which are uninhabited and consist of windswept rocky outcrops and sandy beaches. The five main islands have a very relaxed pace and it is easy to stroll around investigating the restaurants, bars, coffee shops and places of interest. To get between islands simply jump on one of the regular boats at the harbour for a day trip or evening out.
At this time of year the water temperature was about 14 degrees C so it was certainly dry suit diving however the weather was generally sunny with a cool breeze. Hot chocolate on the boat kept the spirits high.
Due to the location and nature of the islands they have trapped many shipwrecks over the centuries. The dive team took the opportunity to explore HMS Colossus, The Lady Charlotte, The Cita, The Minnehaha, The Firebrand, The Hathor and The Plympton. The latter two both managed to hit the same rocks several years apart and consequently lie on top of one another in about 30 metres of water. Although the visibility was a bit below par they provided an interesting site to navigate around, so much so that we did it twice.
HMS Colossus is a British naval wreck that dates back to 1798 and consequently is a protected wreck site. It lies between St Marys and Tresco in about 12 metres of water and there is a marked trail to guide you around the site. Old timbers are visible in the sandy bottom, several huge canon are clearly visible protruding from the site and there are numerous large copper spikes which where once used to hold the ship together. These now point to the surface and divers need to have good buoyancy skills to avoid damage to oneself or kit.
Apart from the wrecks it is also possible to dive on scenic sites like Trinity Rock in the Eastern islands or Trenemene in the Western islands. These provide diving on walls covered in jewel and plumose anemones underneath a canopy of kelp. About 2 miles to the West of Trenemene, the Bishop Rock lighthouse is clearly visible and this represents the last outpost of the UK before heading out into the Atlantic and the USA beyond.
The Scilly isles are famous for the wildlife they attract. Migratory seabirds fill the skies around the islands but there are also marine mammals in the area. We were lucky enough to have 2 dives at sites where Grey seals came to investigate. These are fantastic animals and very inquisitive about what divers are up to. They circle divers and occasionally come close to nibble fins.
So what about Free Willy in a Woolly Hat ? This was a challenge to find a piece of Scillies memorabilia for less than £3 and at the end of the week judge who had purchase the ‘tackiest’ or ‘least tasteful’ item. Contributions included several snow globes featuring seabirds and fish, one with a hefty price tag of 50p (well done Eileen). A model pirate (Trevor), a sew on badge demanding more bottom time and featuring a lady’s behind in a thong (Cameron) and various fridge magnets made an appearance. However the undoubted winner was what appeared to be a Christmas decoration of a killer whale (hence Free Willy) wearing a blue woollen hat. Very tacky and well done Janet B.
The Scillies is certainly a place to explore and relax. The pace of life is less frantic than the mainland. We were able to sample some wonderful food as well as a touch of Scilly Isles culture with the Gig racing. Finally on our way back to Penzance on the ferry, a number of us spotted dolphins and gannets feeding out at sea. A suitable end to a special trip.
Our thanks to Jules Morrissey of NHDC for leading the trip and skipper Jo Williams of Moonshadow Diving for providing the boat, site briefings and wonderful hot chocolate.
See you next time ……..