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: 2nd August 2002
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2002: Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands

Day 8: Friday, 26th August 2002

SMS Dresden (Dive #10)

An early morning wake up in order to dive the Dresden and get slack water on the Tabarka.

SMS Dresden Today's buddies were:
  • Steve and Simon
  • Stew and Gilles
  • Rick and Jason
  • Jon and Donald
  • Paul, Nigel and Barney as the threesome.
SMS Dresden - scan courtesy of ScapaMAP Acoustic Consortium

Descending down the shotline we landed on the hull with one of the Dresden's guns directly below us, still mounted in its turret, pointing dead ahead. We continued towards the bow, bimbling through a corridor, through the galley. Passing another shotline, we popped over the bow, returned to the shot and made our ascent for a 7 minute deco/safety stop. At 6m Steve's Aladin looked as though it was bent by changing from 3min @ 3m to 6min @ 3m, then 3min to surface with 3min stop! Anyway, penalty cleared and we ascended to the surface.

Tabarka (Dive #11)

Our last dive of the exped and it was to turn out to be the best. With no shotline we descended as soon as we hit the water. Straight down and we landed on the wreck. Finning inside, the first thing we saw were three big boilers side by side, having fallen out from their brackets above. (The Tabarka is another wreck which had turned turtle on her way down, although Rick's reply, after the dive, to her having been sunk full with boulders was "that's why she's sitting upright!" - gaff of the week). We popped down behind the boilers, through an opening where we could see clearly out from both sides of the wreck, through holes in the hull with sunlight streaming through, and up through the stern ahead - it was like an 'aquarium' - literally!

Exiting out of the stern to look back down the wreck we saw divers torches gleaming out of the semi-darkness. Onwards back down to the bow, port side, we saw Paul pointing out a lobster hidden away in a crevice beneath a ladder. As soon as Steve saw the diver's signal for shellfish (claw sign) he was in like Flynn with his crabstick - but still she wouldn't move! As we left the lobster behind we continued to the bow, popping through several squeezes between levels and even rolling head over heels to get through a tighter one. As we reached the bow section we started to feel the current pushing us about so we found an exit point to the left. Hanging to the wreck, Steve issued his DSMB, which promptly shot off at a 45° angle (instead of the usual 90°). 9Ascending through the current was like a ride in a washing machine - what a ride, and what an amazing finale to the expedition. Back onboard and everyone's eyes were still lit up from the sight they'd seen. No one will forget the Tabarka.

With the realisation that the diving was finished, minds turned to our last night in Stromness. With Shopping Week reaching its finale, would it match up to Wednesday night?

With the long trip ahead of us tomorrow, would the evening be pleasant and sedate or one final blow-out? As the sun broke through in the early afternoon, kit was washed down and every available piece of deck was used to string out dry-suits, BCDs, etc to dry in the sun. Aware that the ferry trolley would be picked up at 07:30 in the morning we needed to make sure we were packed and ready tonight (lugging all the kit across Stromness harbour was not a good idea with the possibility of hangovers). Kit stowed, dive logs updated and the night was still young. Gradually the group began to get organised and headed off once more in the search for food; obviously first requiring a liquid refreshment break at the Flattie Bar - just to fuel the search. The locals were still actively carrying on the tradition of making 'twats' out of themselves, in the name of Shopping Week, with the drunken, fancy dress three-legged race. I think the main aim of which was to prevent themselves chundering at the end of the race by downing several more pints whilst playing the bagpipes. Mr, Mrs and baby 'on-stilts' made another appearance, Donald getting overly frisky by trying to get a look up Mr Stilts' kilt and checking out his sporran. On with the search for food.

As soon as we ask for a table for eleven the restaurants suddenly get booked up for the night. Last stop, the Chip Shop for fish / chicken suppers. Guzzled down with relish, we began our evening's campaign - next stop the bar at the Royal Hotel, swiftly followed by more beer at Flattie's. By the time the evening started to kick into gear Gilles was already bladdered, but then can we really tell with 'zee frenchman'?

Several whiskies later, having paid our first visit to the Royal Legion bar (and losing Donald) we ventured back to the Ferry Inn. It was here that things started going terribly wrong for ciderman Gilles, especially once he saw his true love, 'the bearded lady', sat quietly having a drink with her mates. Unfortunately for her, that didn't last as Gilles began to 'turn up the volume'. What I can say is that this was a very, sorry episode - but great entertainment!

More double whiskies later and the group began to splinter off, some seeking the comfort of their bunk, some amusing themselves with baby Stilt's pram up and down the quay, some text messaging obscenities to 'lost loves'. As the evening turned to morning, just one fact remained clear - Gilles had been well and truly sosselled and by 07:00 Saturday morning, he still was.

Friday 19th August 2002 The long drive ahead...
Saturday 20th August 2002 Finally arrive in the Orkneys & our welcome to "Shopping Week"
Sunday 21st August 2002 SMS Karlsruhe & Gobernador Bories
Monday 22nd August 2002 SMS Köln & Bottle Dive
Tuesday 23rd August 2002 SMS Markgraf & MV Radiation
Wednesday 24th August 2002 MV James Barrie, F2 and Barge - Party night !
Thursday 25th August 2002 SMS Brummer & V83
Friday 26th August 2002 SMS Dresden & Tabarka
Saturday 27th August 2002 The return trip South
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