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A weekend in St. Abbs with DiveStay

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When I entered the postcode into my satnav given to me by Gary at DiveStay in St Abbs, Scotland and it told me I had a three and a half hour drive before arriving… I sighed, having had a very busy stressful week and having unanticipated the distance between Sheffield and St Abbs and hoped that the diving would be worth it.

The drive actually felt like no time at all, most of it was on the same road down the A1 and there are plenty of nice little towns to call at for a break enroute for those all important ‘caffeine stops’. We arrived in St Abbs around 12.30 and dropped all of our equipment at one of the prettiest little harbours I’ve ever seen and moved the car to the nearest car park (free car park – 20 seconds down the road).

Not long after, the boat arrived: a white and red 11m long catamaran, named Wavedancer II. She had seating on the deck for 12 divers and ample seating inside the wheelhouse which is fitted out to yacht standards (and by this I mean tea, coffee, heating and spacious toilet). We met Gary for the first time, and were welcomed aboard to start our day’s diving. We were introduced to all the divers and they were all very friendly despite me and my dive buddy being the only ones not in their local dive group and therefore the ‘newbies’ on board!

We set sail. The cliffs along Berwickshire’s coast are spectacular and seabirds dance alongside the boat diving into the water and then going to rest on the cliffs. It is a truly beautiful landscape and when the sun came out it really came into its own.

It was then time for our much awaited first dive and actually it turned out that it was also the first dive that my partner Ed and I have ever done without a guide in the UK! But it was the perfect place to start, with no current, easy enough to navigate, and SO MUCH to see! I had been told before entering the water that the diving off St Abbs Head is truly excellent in some of the very best sub 30m dive sites in the UK and Europe and that this is due to cold Arctic currents and warmer currents from the south swirling together and supporting diverse and abundant marine life. Even so, I really was not expecting it to be so beautiful. The sites are a Marine Reserve and while diving we saw wrecks, kelp forests, sandy bottoms covered in starfish, huge ballan Wrasse, short spined sea scorpion fish, crabs, lobsters, neon jellyfish, bright purple anemones, flat fish and everything in between. If you are lucky you will even see the seabirds shooting past you under the water as they dive for fish.

Check my YouTube video here for the footage:

We had our eyes peeled from the boat as that same day the group before us in the morning had seen dolphins!

When we surfaced, both myself and Ed were elated, partly because we had survived out first dive alone… but mostly because of how incredible the dive had been. Gary expertly maneuvered the boat to pick us up… and the twin lift, makes getting both you and your buddy out of the buddy effortless.

Back on the boat, there is plenty of help from the lovely ‘Duggie’ if needed to get your kit back into position, and then you are ushered into the heated…. Yes you read that right… HEATED inside area of the boat. Tea and coffee…. and homemade Scottish shortbread is available in abundance for those surface stop munchies… absolute luxury.

The second dive was just as amazing and I spent the (rather turbulent) journey back to the harbour drinking tea in the warm, chatting with the other divers about all the amazing things we had seen.

We had planned to stay over that night in the Home Arms guesthouse, which is owned by Gary and his lovely wife Zoe. Being able to stay at accommodation, which is linked to the diving is amazing, because everything runs incredibly smoothly. There is an amazing drying room at the BnB and we unloaded all of our dive gear from the boat ready for the next day’s diving and went upstairs to our room. The room was HUGE, it had seriously beautiful views over the incredible Eyemouth Bay. It was probably the prettiest BnB we have every stayed in and the perfect place to relax after a day’s diving.

Straight outside the guesthouse, you can walk into a beautiful town centre with plenty of picturesque little shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. We had a beautiful pub dinner overlooking the Bay with a local Scottish lager. A perfect day.

Sunday morning, we had an amazing breakfast at the Home Arms, home-cooked in front of us in the kitchen diner…. And I couldn’t believe my luck when they even had vegetarian sausages for me! We were well fed, well slept, and happily ready for another amazing day’s diving.

The lovely Mr and Mrs Seal were waiting for us in the harbour to wave us off and yet again we had a fantastic morning diving through some of the most beautiful diving that all of Europe has to offer.

All in all, our weekend with DiveStay and the Home Arms guesthouse couldn’t have been any better, and we cannot wait to get our next trip booked to return… and hopefully next time we will be lucky enough to see the resident dolphins.

See www.divestay.co.uk for more information.

Hannah Higgins is currently a 3rd Year Medical student at the University of Sheffield, working as a mental health carer around her studies. Previous to this she completed a Biochemistry Degree with honours at the University of Leeds, completing a research project centring on viral genetics. She has published papers at international conferences as 1st author, and is currently working on a radiology research paper with the Sheffield children’s hospital. When not working or studying she enjoys scuba diving, and is an Advanced level scuba diver currently working towards her rescue diver qualification.

Marine Life & Conservation

Our Seas urge Scotland to bring back Inshore Limit

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Our Seas call on Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Scottish Government to follow their own policies and stop the chronic destruction of our seabed by urgently reinstating a coastal limit on bottom-trawl and dredge fishing. Sign the petition here.

Scottish coastal seas have been driven into decline due to decades of mismanagement. Destructive bottom towed fishing gear has had free access to over 95% of our inshore waters since the 1980’s, to the detriment of habitats, biodiversity, fisheries, and communities.

In 1889 a law was passed to protect fish stocks and small boats by banning trawling (except by sail) from within three nautical miles of the shore. Catastrophically the law was removed in 1984 against a backdrop of the industrialization of fishing technology, breaches of the Three Mile Limit, and declining offshore fish stocks.  Access to the inshore appeared to improve catches for a short while, but inevitably led to the rapid decline of fish stocks as seabed habitats – vital nurseries and shelter for many species – were destroyed.

See the trailer of their film The Limit below:

Our Seas are asking you to sign their petition to Bring Back the Fish and Bring Back Scotland’s Inshore Limit. You can sign the petition by clicking here.

For more information about the work of Our Seas visit their website by clicking here.

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News

And the winner of our AP Diving 45M Ratcheted Pocket Reel competition is…

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We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who entered our competition to win an AP Diving 45M Ratcheted Pocket Reel from our good friends at AP Diving!

As usual, lots of you entered… but there can, of course, be only one winner!

And that winner is…

  • Simon Nicholls from the UK.

Congratulations Simon – your prize will be on its way to you soon!

Not a winner this time? Don’t worry – there are plenty of other competitions running on Scubaverse.com right now. To see what other awesome prizes you could be in with a chance of winning, click here!

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