There is a certain ‘anticipation’ in the run up to a dive trip, and this one was no different, would the weather play ball, how mega would the visibility be underwater, and as I had just serviced the outboard…..would it survive the weekend. So we gathered in Oban on the Friday afternoon and made our way to Puffin Divers to book the boat in for two days of diving at their excellent facilities on Gallanach Bay. We had also booked into the nearby Oban Caravan and Camping site situated around 500 metres south of Puffin at Gallanachmore Farm where we could store the boat as well. We were greeted with warm sunshine and a fine evening as we prepped our gear and set up base in our home for the weekend.
The following morning we awoke to grey skies with dry conditions and a westerly breeze. The plan was to head north through Oban Bay and round into Ardmucknish Bay to dive the wreck of the SS Breda sunk by a German Heinkel bomber on 23 December 1940.
Unfortunately conditions on the wreck were a bit gloomy at 3-4 metres max, as a result of recent rainfall and freshwater run off from the mouth of Loch Etive. However, we were able to explore the main deck and holds of this substantial wreck which is an absolute favourite with divers nationwide. For more information on the wreck of the Breda follow the link here.
The first mark looked very interesting but we decided not to dive as it was in the main shipping lane into Oban, perhaps later in the year when the winter ferry timetable commences. Due to sea conditions the second and third marks were inconclusive, but mark four again looked promising. A crash test dummy was selected, so I kitted up and jumped into 20 metres and headed down the shot. As I bottomed out I could see that the lumpy surface conditions had dragged the shot along the seabed, so I reeled off and headed west. It was not long until wreckage appeared and then a main section extending into the distance. I moved cautiously around the wreckage as it was covered in fine silt and, after letting off a blob buoy to signal we were on metal, I started my investigation. I was aware that a number seaplane wrecks had been located around 2014. Having spent many a dive on the Catalina wreck at Cumbrae slip, I was familiar with what a plane wreck looked like. The area west of Kererra was used by flying boats as a take-off and landing area during WWII, and a number had come to grief in the area. The wreckage appeared to be a full wing section and some central body work, there were a few features noted such as circular tanks in the wing and a port hole window in perspex or similar plastic material from 1940’s. Conclusion, this was the remains of a crashed Sunderland flying boat. Unfortunately no camera, have to wait until next visit.
Sunday dawned grey, that NW breeze was still there. The plan was to dive the wreck of the Swedish steamship Hispania on the morning slack at 09.30 and then head over to the wreck of the British steamship Shuna, which is diveable at all states of the tide. After a boat trip of 90 minutes we were soon over the wreck and located the marker buoy. Neil had kindly offered to do boat cover so Tom, Phil and I kitted up and rolled over the side to investigate the wreck below. The visibility was much better probably in the 8-10 metre range, but not crystal. As it was Phil’s first visit to the wreck, Tom took him for a guided tour – stem to stern, while I concentrated on taking a few pictures some of which are below. The wreck lies in general seabed depths 28-30 metres with depths on deck and superstructure in 15-20 metre range, She is virtually intact and lies with a list to port. For more information on the Hispania click on this link here.
buddy Tommy Kane and boat dog Oscar. The visibility was not as good as the Hispania but still clear enough for a great dive. This wreck sits in around 30-32 metres with depths on the level deck around 16-20 metres. I took a few pictures from the dive these are reproduced below, and for more information about the wreck and how it got there follow the link here.
geography of the Oban area it provides a range of dive sites that are doable in most weather conditions. For recreational and wreck diving information you may also wish to contact Puffin Divers and Dive Oban and Argyll for more information on diving, equipment and boat hire.