Mulroy Bay Donegal, Trainee weekend
A vibrant club needs new members!
We take in new members in the autumn. This year we introduced 10 new Trainees to the wonders of diving. This is an exciting time for both the Trainees and the Club members. Everyone gets involved and gives encouragement and support throughout the training period. After completing the water exercises in the local pool and attending the full lecture programmes, the trainees are prepared to head out to Carlingford Lough to get some snorkelling experience. In January/February the water is cold but snorkelling in Irish waters helps to build up stamina and gain confidence in the water.
The first dive for this years trainees was organised for Donegal, a favourite spot with all Club members. This was mid March but the weather forecast was favourable, light winds and spring sunshine. In previous years we have experienced wind, rain and even hailstones for the trainees first diving experience, yet they came out for more !! It certainly is addictive.
Early on the Saturday morning we gathered in Dundalk and set out in convoy for The Downings, Co Donegal. Cars, jeeps, boats and 30 club members including trainees set off. The enthusiasm was infectious, a mixture of excitement , expectations and trepidations.
Weather conditions will dictate which dive site is suitable but Mulroy Bay is usually top of the list.
Mulroy Bay extends 10M inland from an open North facing outer Bay with Melrose Point and Ballyhoorisky Point marking the entrance . There is a lovely slipway in Fanny’s Bay ideal for launching and retrieving the boats. This is a perfectly sheltered bay and only a short walk over the hill to the village of Downings where we had arranged accommodation in the delightful Beach Hotel.
This being a large group, the Diving Officer had arranged a dry Coxswain and DOD on each of the three boats. Each Trainee was buddied with an experienced club member. The emphasis was on ensuring that the first dive was as relaxed as possible for the trainee. Safety as always being paramount.
The first dive site was a short distance out from the slip north of Crannoge Point. Depth 6-8 metres. This was a nice sandy shale bottom with some kelp. Most divers saw a couple of Dogfish, Spiny Sea Urchins and Sea Anemones. Those who took the time to look closely at the kelp found Nudibracks, Sea Slugs and lots more.
We returned to shore for a pleasant lunch in the sunshine. Lots to talk about . Lots to wonder about.
The afternoon dive site was a short distance over in Glinsk Bay. Again this was a safe shallow dive suitable for the trainees.
The sea bed was a blanket of brittle star fish. Very picturesque. The dogfish were there too , along with a harvest of Scallops on the move. Tempting an all as they were they are not permitted to be touched!
The sun was still shining when we returned to the slipway in the evening. Everyone tired but exhilarated and full of the wonders of the sea.
Sunday morning we headed out to Melmore Head at the entrance to Mulroy Bay for the final dive. Spectacular views along the coastline, and we had it all to ourselves! There is a nice cove at the Head, with lots of colourful rocks and boulders at a depth of 10 metres. Lots to explore, and explore we did. Lobsters, Crabs, Butterfish, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Urchins, and a special visitor nestling in a crevice! Our youngest Trainee Hannah spotted the elusive Octopus. She excitedly got her Dad’s attention who was her Buddy and showed it to him. What a way to finish up the day fo her.
We all gathered after the dive and had a group debriefing. We discussed the diving and highlighted the areas of concern and what might be improved in the future.
By 15.00hrs the boats were retrieved, the bags packed, tea and buns finished, some of the talking done and the convoy headed back to Dundalk. A successful club outing and a good start to the year.