Sheephaven Dive Notes – Learning Days.

Every day is a learning day for Sheephaven divers, as club members engaged in a series of training activities last weekend.

Starting bright and early on Saturday morning three Sheephaven instructors, Kieran Doherty, Simon Henderson and Paul Mc Cabe attended a Coxswain Instructors course in clubhouse at Downings.

All club boats are required to have a fully qualified Coxswain at the helm during dive operations and these qualifications are awarded to Irish Underwater Council members on the successful completion of their Coxswain course.

These courses in turn must be delivered by appropriately trained Coxswain tutors and that was the purpose of Saturday morning course, which was in turn led by Timmy Boyle and Anne Boyle of Sheephaven SAC and Pat Mc Elroy of Rosses Snorkellers.

Following on from Saturday’s course there will be a Coxswain course for Irish Underwater Council members in the North region later in month, which is essential to ensure a continuous supply of personnel to safely take the helm of dive boats into the future.

While the Coxswain Instructors course was underway in the clubhouse Sheephaven divers were in the water off Melmore Head in reasonable sea conditions, but somewhat limited in-water visibility.

Water temperature has come up quite rapidly to a comfortable 10 degrees Celsius but this has put the Plankton into overdrive, with resulting visibility now down to a few meters at best.

The divers were able to get onto the very tip of Melmore Head, which holds a marvellous cave and chimney feature that makes this dive just that bit special.

Dive times of up to 40 minutes with maximum depths of 25 metres were recorded in a two stick dive pattern.

Sunday morning was a special learning day for one new Sheephaven club member as she conducted her first Sheephaven open water dive in the confines of PortnaBlagh harbour, under the watchful care of Anne Boyle and her Instructor colleagues.

Most Sheephaven divers get their first experience of Scuba diving in Portnablagh, where the depth doesn’t exceed 10 meters and the reefs provide a safe enclosure, but equally no-one ever forgets their first dive – well done to Andrea Mc Gowan and undoubtedly she will go from strength to strength from here on.

Another new club member, Marine Biologist Emmet Clarkin, shared some of his knowledge on the snorkel that was running simultaneously on Sunday morning.

Emmet observed the Blue Rayed Limpet, with the wonderful Latin name of Patella pelluncida, attached to the fonds of seaweed off the Golf Course point, as he snorkelled to Killyhoey Beach.

The Limpets are in good numbers and size and their presence would be considered to be an indicator of good water quality, reassuring for all who are availing of the use of this location.

One of the unique features of this tiny marine animal, it is about the size of a small fingernail, is the blue stripes along its back, which radiate when torch light is shone on them.

The previous week Emmet told the divers how the two stones that guard the entrance to nearby caves are bored with holes.

Apparently they have been drilled down by the abrasive action of limpets over the years. Each hole is the home for a single animal, which heads out when the rock is submerged and forages on across neighbouring rocks and then will follow its own trail all the way back to their own particular hole before the tide goes and the rock dries out.

Other frequent users of this location are the Garten Swimmers as they prepare for their next Sheephaven Swim, scheduled for the 7th July 2018.

On Friday evening last they held a launch of the next swim in the Buttermilk café, Portnablagh and once again they have indicated that will share any proceeds from the event with the RNLI and Sheephaven SAC.

Finally Sheephaven SAC wish to congratulate their fellow club members Maureen Gallagher and Hugo Mc Fadden who participated in the WAAR challenge on Saturday. Maureen completed the three disciples, swimming, cycling and kayaking, while Hugo was one half of a duathlon. Well done to both.