Friday, 22 August 2008

Ring of Brogar - The Orkney Islands

The Ring of Brogar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle on the largest island in Orkney.  It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.  During our Scapa Flow trip we managed to visit this fascinating place.

 The stone circle is 104 metes in diameter and the third largest in the British Isles.

Lamb Holm - The Orkney Islands

The island of Lamb Holm is uninhabited and lies in Holm Sound, one of the eastern entrances to Scapa Flow.  The island's main attraction is an Italian Chapel built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. In 1942, more than 1300 Italian prisoners of war were captured in North Africa and taken to Orkney.  The prisoners, under the leadership of Domenico Chiocchetti transformed two Nissen huts into a chapel allowing the prisoners a place of worship.

 We stopped off at Lamb Holm near the end of the week long trip.

As a descendant of Italian immigrants I found the chapel particularly endearing.  It was nice to see that Italians had left their mark in such a far flung region of Scotland with a peaceful ornate chapel built during times of conflict.
The interior has been painted and decorated to resemble churches that the prisoners remembered from their native Italy.

The chapel is one of Orkney's most popular tourist attractions.

Scapa Flow - The Orkney Islands

Dive #54 - 65

Scapa Flow is a bay in the Orkney Islands which has acted as a natural harbour for centuries, long since Viking expeditions began arriving.  In the build up to the First World War it was decided that a northern British naval base would be needed to control the entrances to the North Sea - Scapa Flow served this purpose.

After defeat in the First World War, 74 ships of the German High Seas Fleet were interned at Scapa Flow.  Their fate was to be decided in the peace Treaty of Versailles however on 21 June 1919, after a wait of 9 months, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter took the decision to scuttle the enormous fleet.

A great salvage operation ensued which has been become known as the greatest salvage operation of all time.

There are now seven ships of the German High Seas Fleet still resident in Scapa Flow, as well as numerous fishing boats and blockships, making the bay an extremely popular scuba diving destination.

During my trip to Scapa Flow I managed to dive:
  • The SMS Karlsruhe - light cruiser.
  • The F2 & YC21- German torpedo recovery vessel and British salvage barge.
  • The Tabarka - 2,624 ton steamer at 12m which has settled upside down in Burra Sound.
  • HMT Loch Garry  - boom defence boat.
  • Oceana, Eday - tug boat.
  • SS Loch Maddy - 4,995 to vessel torpeded and blown in two by a U-boat now lying at 12 metres.
  • Endeavour - wreck of a trawler.
  • Aoranghi - block ship.
  • Kronprinz Wilhelm battleship.
  • SMS Coln -light cruiser.
  • MV James Barrie - fishing vessel.
  • SMS Brummer - light cruiser.

Video of the SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Koln and SMS Brummer, which I also dived, by Dory Productions


Monday, 26 May 2008

Medieval Village - Capo d'Acqua, Abruzzo

Dive #53

This was a very interesting and unique dive.  The dive site was in a spring water lake in the national park of Gran Sasso, Abruzzo.  The spring water lake was created in the 60s to irrigate the surrounding land.  Two medieval water mills are still submerged in the lake with the blades of the mill still visible. It was nice to dive in Abruzzo as I regularly visited the region to see relatives.  I stayed with family in the region's capital, L'Aquila, for one month in 2003.

Visibilty was excellent, not surprising considering it was a spring water lake.  It was quite eerie swimming around in a lake with the remains of the buildings.

Location: Capestrano
Type: Lake
Time: 29min
Depth: 8 metres
Weights: 10 kg

Video by Gianni Maiani

I'll also never forget hearing the dive leader of another group shouting and bawling at his group upon surfacing.  Doesn't make for a good dive experience!  

Friday, 25 April 2008

Capraia - Tuscan Islands

Capraia is an island of volcanic origin that forms part of the Tuscan Archipelao.  It is 62 km from the city of Livorno by sea and 32 km northwest of the island of Elba  I did four dives on this trip: il Turco, lo Scoglione and le Formiche. 

I particularly remember diving at the site called il Turco.  We were diving during the breeding season of the Black Seabream (Spondyliosoma cantharus) and there were many of these fish swimming around protecting their eggs.

Fortress of St George

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Le Sconsciglie, Ventotene, Italy

Dive #45
Le Sconsciglie
Depth: 19.5m
Time: 49min
Weights: 14kg

Temp: 14 degrees C

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Molo Quattro and Scoglio della Nave, Ventotene, Italy

Dive #43
Dive 1
Molo Quattro
Depth: 25.3m
Time: 19min
Weights: 10kg

Crap dive

Dive #44
Scoglio della Nave
Depth: 9.8m
Time: 43min
Weights: 10kg

Night dive