Scapa Flow – Summer 2013

This year, the trip to Scapa Flow was trip number 20 for me. I have always chartered Sunrise as a live aboard. During this time I have seen Sunrise evolve through subtle changes into one of the best dive boats available and also observed changes on the sea bed as the wrecks have evolved.

Prolific amounts of life now adorn the wrecks and the features are at time obscured by marine life. Steadily, as years have past marine life coverage has increased. Indeed several years ago I observed a whale in Stromness Harbour. The noise it made breathing, attracted my attention to it as I did not expect to see this so close to boats and people.

Some of the wrecks lie on their side and this year I noticed some opening up of the wrecks where the deck is moving away from the hull. This made it possible to look into elements of the wreck which i have not see before. The block ship Tabarka appears to have opened near the boilers and the propshaft tunnel appears a bit lower than before in this upside down wreck. There are still wonderful swim throughs with extraordinary light coming through from outside. The wrecks are still gigantic ship shapes with guns visible and engine room turbines etc where the salvage men have blasted into the wrecks. Fortunately no more salvage is allowed

This year we dived on the :


This year the team spent about 80 man hours underwater to a max depth of about 35 meters, without incident and used rebreathers and nitrox open circuit throughout the week. Equipment problems were dealt with during equipment checks and were limited to a pressure gauge failure and a few o ring problems. None of the rebreathers need replacement O2 cells.

The standing instructions were not to enter the German wrecks but it was agreed to enter the block ships. This was due to the risk associated with silt in the German wrecks. This is not a problem on the block ships due to the tide which rushes in and out and keeps the block ships clear of silt.

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The weather was kind to us this year but we did not leave Scapa Flow. The sea state and wind strength precluded going out into the North Atlantic to to a great site named Stack Skerry, approx 38 miles west of Stromness, or indeed to visit the northern islands.

Post diving we visited several Neolithic sites as well as just looked around. The minibus covered approx 275 miles on the Island. We went to see the following sites:

  • Maes How
  • Scara Bray
  • Tomb of the Eagles
  • Stones of Stennis
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Kitchener Memorial on Merwick Head
  • Highland Park Distillery
  • Itallian Chappel
  • Churchill Barriers

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We had a walk on the beach on the sea ward side of Barrier number 3 where the block ships are now covered in sand.

Generally we had a brilliant holiday and I have chartered Sunrise again for 2014, week commencing 15 June to 21 June. (21 June 2014 will be the 95th anniversary of the scuttle of the German Fleet in Scapa Flow).  Please contact me to book your place.

Alan Glen