Wednesday 9th October
Everyone assembles as instructed on the quay side to find out whether the weather would stop today’s diving……. It’s blowing 30mph and gusting up to 40 but looking at the harbour you would never know! It’s not going to be pleasant but Emily is willing to take the boat out to try and get a dive in. She is confident the boat can handle it is more a case of can we!
A lot of famous people have been born, passed through or settled in Stromness and blue plaques have been put up to commemorate them. A walking route can be followed from the tourist information office to the museum. It is a small museum with lots of information about lighthouse keeping, Arctic Explorers, fishing and the Scapa Flow wrecks.
Back on the Radiant Queen the iron stomached explorer heads out on the boat to dive the stern of the Dresden. On the surface the wind has really picking up and the waves are breaking overhead on the surface and it is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. With everyone safely back on board supping hot tea and agreeing that the dive was well worth the effort the Queen speeds back to the calm of the harbour.
Thursday 10th October
What a difference a day makes!…… The weather has calmed and although still a little bumpy the trip out to the dive site is much more pleasant.
Today we will dive the third and final battleship, the Konig which is 146m in length and sitting at 38m. She is the least intact due to heavy salvage work but offers the opportunity to see things normally hidden deep inside. Emily gives an incredibly detailed dive briefing and suggests exploring the engine rooms via the salvers damage on the top of the wreck which leaves a large area of the citadel exposed with lots to visit and explore if you know what to look out for!
Once again the three descend the shot line eagerly wanting to investigate the wreck. STOP! One of our explorers is missing vital equipment so must return to the boat and sit this one out (oops – dive computer!). Safely seen back to the surface the remaining two continue their descent on to the massive wreck. Emily had been very specific with her instructions on which way to go or else treasures could be missed – was it left or right she said??
Moving along, various doorways and hatches are visible leading off the main engine rooms along with lots of different pipes and rails covered in anemones and different plant life. Proceeding towards the stern at a steady pace the explorers decide not to descend any lower as it looks dark and ominous. Consequently most of the treasures that Emily had covered in her briefing were missed but never the less it is a great dive.
The conversation over lunch consists mainly of what some DID NOT see along with how much No Fly time our fellow travellers were accruing and how this would affect their diving on Friday!
Warmed and refuelled it was on to the SMS Brummer. This Bremse class mine-laying Light Cruiser displaced 4,300 tons and was 140 metres long. Emily informed us this was a sneaky ship as it was built to resemble the British Aurora cruisers. In silhouette she was a dead ringer and had an additional mast that could be raised and lowered depending on whether she was in enemy or friendly waters making this a very cunning ship indeed! She now sits in 36 metres and lies on her starboard side with the area around her engine room suffering from extensive blasting. Key things to be looking out for are the bridge and the Iris from the spotlights which are unique to this wreck.
The explorers enter the water, following multiple equipment checks, descending the shot onto the port rail just behind the bridge area and then onwards to the sea bed. Slowly proceeding forwards to the bridge wreckage, the explorers survey the sea bed for the searchlight iris.
Further inspection of the bridge and the collapsed conning tower reveals the charismatic steel lattice support work that was used around the bridge area. Drifting forward past the guns the deck peels away above and then back to the shot along the port side of the ship, looking into portholes and hatches on the way. The ascent takes a little longer this time as 5 minutes of deco has been accrued!
Once all back on board the conversation once again turns to no fly time……. The explorers sit smugly smiling to each other knowing they can do two dives tomorrow 🙂
Friday 11th October
Today is the intrepid explorers’ last day on the Radiant Queen and everyone reflects on what a fantastic week it’s been…. But it’s not over yet……. Some still have two dives left!
Everyone gathers early to ensure the fliers can get a dive in and the decision is made that those who can only dive once want to end the trip on a big, deep dive so it’s back to the Markgraf!
With one explorer still a bit worried by “big and deep”, two brave boys plan their dive – descend the stern shot line , spend the dive inspecting her rather beautiful bottom, come up onto the top of the hull and look around before ascending the bow shot. No problem, easy peasy!!.
Once in the water and composed the explorers descend the 35 metres to the stern of the ship. Almost immediately they notice the two rows of portholes which are almost directly in front. Slowly moving towards the back of this vast vessel, looking up they see her huge starboard rudder hove into view – this is simply incredible! Once the stern has been explored they swim up between her rudders, which look as if they could steer her out of here at any moment. They continue on along the ridge of her keel and move up and past the salvage damage caused when entering into the engine rooms. Finning towards the bow, keeping the bilge keel between them the explorers bid farewell to this once graceful lady of the sea. Having been keeping a careful eye on their deco time the explorers have to spend an additional 9 minutes off-gassing.
On board Emily treats everyone to warm homemade muffins….. YUM!
United for their final dive the explorers decide on an easier dive that offers something for everyone so it’s back to the barge and the F2!
What a spectacular dive. Huge guns and tiny sea slugs…… We are even treated to the sight of a Shag diving in to the water to catch fish – AMAZING!
Once back on board kits is gathered, hoodies are purchased and plans made for beers in the evening.
Saturday 11th October
With all the bags loaded into the bus the explorers leave the Divers Lodge and head to the ferry terminal – literally just across the road. Once boarded they settle into three comfy chairs and ponder the week they have had and the 15hrs of driving still to come!