Scapa Flow Centenary: The Insiders’ Perspective

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CJ interviewed Rachael, Adrien and Ethan, who have worked this dive season with Scapa Scuba in Scapa Flow, 100 years after the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet.  CJ asked them to reflect on their year while on the ferry ride home.

CJ: Here we are after a great week of diving in Scapa Flow.  It’s the centenary year and we had a great time on the boat visiting our friends Adrien and Rachael, instructors at Scapa Scuba, and Ethan, who completed his dive master training at Scapa Scuba this season. Since they have been resident and working in Scapa Flow for the entire centenary year, we thought we would get their perspective on how the anniversary year has gone.

CJ: How long have you been diving in Scapa Flow?

Rachael and Adrien: Two years for us.

Ethan: This season, and four times previously. 

CJ: There are loads of really cool sites to dive in Scapa Flow, but what is your favourite, and why?

Adrien: I’d have to say the Markgraf, one of the battleships up here.  It is still in really good condition, the bow and the stern are completely intact so they are quite a sight to see.

Rachael: The Cöln, one of the light cruisers. It’s the most intact of the light cruisers and has a really awesome swim-through.  

CJ: I have to say I love that swim through, it’s probably my favourite bit as well.

Ethan: The König for me, because you can see all of the technical stuff inside of it.  It feels like a twisted metal reef the way it’s been blown up and warped, so it feels more like something you would see in a tropical reef and it’s quite nice.

CJ: This year is a very special one, with it being the centenary.  How was it being here for the year?

Adrien: It wasn’t much different for us as a dive centre; we still had the same routines.  I think for the charter boats it was quite busy though.

Rachael: It was nice to be part of all the celebrations that went on, and there were a lot of talks on the anniversary.

CJ: How about you Ethan, were you too busy with your divemaster training to enjoy it?

Ethan: No, I thought it was really good.  Of course we’re here for such a long time and getting to go to all of the conferences and exhibitions it really nails home why you do this, and the real history of the place.

CJ: Did you get to do anything special on the centenary?  Any particular talks or exhibitions that you enjoyed?

Adrien: We went to the final conference, it was very interesting.

Rachael:  It was really good!

Adrien:  There were the Royal Navy and German Navy bands playing musical pieces, a documentary and a German historian talking about the scuttling, it was really interesting.

Rachael:  The German Admiral was there, it was really special, Adrien even got to sit next to the grandson of Sir Fremantle.

Adrien:  He was a Vice Admiral in the Royal Navy and Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron, he oversaw the interned German High Seas Fleet at the time of the scuttling.  And at the event his grandson was sitting right there beside me.

CJ:  We have heard that Scapa Scuba is closing after this season, will you still be up here next year?

Adrien and Rachael:  Yes, we’ll stay here, but do something different.

CJ:  There are dive professionals up here so presumably there will still be lots of diving.

Rachael: For sure.

CJ:  Ethan, how does it feel to have been a DM here in the final season?

Ethan:  It’s been fun, it’s been amazing really!

CJ:  In the dive briefings you always look at the guide books with the multi-beam scan images to get an idea of what to expect and to help plan the dives, it is quite different down there, there has been deterioration on the wrecks.  I have noticed from 2 years ago, when we last dived here, to this season there is a bit more damage, wrecks have deteriorated with winter storms.  Given that this is just going to continue, do you think the wrecks will maintain their character and still be interesting as they degrade?

Rachael & Adrien:  I think so.  Yes, I’m sure.

Adrien:  It’ll open up new areas of the ships as they break down, you will be able to see some of the insides that are not easily accessible.

Rachael:  Take the Karlsruhe, it’s broken up, but there’s lots of features that you can see that you couldn’t if it was intact.

CJ:  That’s a very nice point, so do you think the wrecks will continue to draw scuba divers here for the next 100 years?

Adrien:  Oh yes, for sure!

Rachael:  Yes I think so!

CJ: Theres is always going to be something cool about the big battleships isn’t there?

Adrien:  The battleships are strongly built, they will be intact for a long time, they’ll still be there for the next 100 years.

Rachael:  The König is now a reef system, it attracts so much life, which is another good aspect of the wrecks.

CJ: What has been your favourite experience this year?

Adrien:  At the end of the season we were diving with some more experienced divers and got to do some different dives.  I got to do the Markgraf and go to the bow, it’s one of the best sites in Scapa Flow.

Rachael:  For me it was at the beginning of the season, I was guiding this 73 years old man and on his very last day, we dived the F2 and had a seal with us for the whole dive swimming round us.  It was really special, and it was really special for him.

Ethan:  Towards the end of the season I was lucky enough to go onto the bow of the Markgraf, to look up at that colossal structure, it was an amazing experience.

CJ: Fantastic, I think that’s about it, except can I come diving with you again next year?

Rachael & Adrien:  (Laughing) Yes!

CJ: Woo, awesome! Well, thank you guys for chatting with me.


You can watch the full video (with some ferry noise in the background) HERE and follow more of CJ and Mike’s diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

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