Isle of Man: Terrific Temperate Diving

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Isle of Man: Terrific Temperate Diving - Blah Blah - by Simon Campbell

I have dived all over the world from Malta to the Maldives, Myanmar to Mexico but I have to say that the waters of the Isle of Man are the best temperate experience I have encountered. Reefs and wrecks: it has everything.

<img src="{filedir_2}Anemones_IOM.jpg" alt="A beautiful underwater scene in the Isle of Man" title="© Tim Nicholson" width="570" height="428" />

Now, as you probably gather, the quality of the diving in the vicinity of where I live is a high priority for me.

Since I moved here ten months ago, I have dived my ass off. Initially to gain experience on my "new rebreather":http://simoncampbell.com/blog/perma/sentinel_lss_rebreather_from_vr_technology/ but in doing so I realised what a diving Mecca this place is. Look at the image above: is this St Abbs or St Kilda?

No, this site is located 300m from my old house!!!

Wrecks

Being right in the middle of the Irish Sea and close to Liverpool, that was for many years the hub of the nautical world, many ships have fallen foul of the changeable weather and reefs around the Island. The result is wrecks to suit everyone from 10m to 80m.

A good place to start is buying a the excellent book by fellow Castle Rushen Divers member, "Adrian Corkill":http://www.iom-shipwrecks.com/ - Shipwrecks of the Isle of Man. This gives a great insight into all things metal (and wood for that matter) underwater and is available on Amazon.

Tides and Scenic Diving

<img src="{filedir_2}Jewel_anemones.jpg" alt="Jewel Anemones" title="© Tim Nicholson" width="210" height="158" />

The tides are fierce, with tidal ranges up to seven metres and result in amazing 'high energy' sites around the headlands and through the sounds.

One of the most impressive being the 'Booroo' located on the South East tip of the Calf of Man.

Don't rely on chart information to plan your tides though; they are very peculiar. I would recommend consulting fellow BSAC National Instructor John Kermode's very "informative website":http://web.me.com/iomsac/Diving/Dive_Manager.html and checking on my specific "'Isle of Man special'":http://www.steampacketholidays.com/SteamPacketHolidays/Isle-of-Man-Holidays/Diving-Breaks-in-the-Isle-of-Man.htm links. These also provide weather and other Dive Manager goodies!

In a nutshell, you can plop in the water anywhere around the Island and find lovely sites, just watch the weather and tides!

Visibility & Temperature

<img src="{filedir_2}Urchin.jpg" alt="Urchin" title="© Tim Nicholson" width="210" height="158" />

As there are no large rivers disgorging loads of sediment into the water the Island has great underwater visibility.

The South East is great as the seabed is mostly made up of course shell sand which, even if the weather has been bad, settles quickly restoring the visibility. The West of the Island can be worse, as the bottom is muddy, but in the terms of the rest of the UK, it's still fantastic.

The worst I have experienced, and this was only one dive, was around 1.5m around the Port Erin breakwater. The best was around 30m (yes, 30m).

Sea temperature vary from a bracing six degrees in March to a balmy 16C in September.

Dive centres and facilities

There are loads of boats and dive centres around the Island but I have tended to dive with "Discover Diving":http://www.discoverdiving.im/ in Port St Mary. They have great compressor facilities, understand mixed gas diving and have plenty of oxygen and helium kicking around the place.

They also run a good little day boat the "Endeavour":http://www.discoverdiving.im/endeavour.php which makes technical diving really easy; it also has a lift!

Generally, I am not a huge fan of lifts but they are very handy at preventing excessive exertion when festooned with several bailout cylinders :-). Steve Cowley, the skipper and joint owner of the centre, is a technical instructor, so he fully understands what is required to make a dive successful.

It's a great place to learn to dive, providing you don't fall foul of enthusiastic excess after qualifying. I say this with some experience and further details can be found in "another article":http://simoncampbell.com/blog/perma/break_a_leg_not_literally_greg/ on my mate "Greg Wood":http://gregorywood.co.uk/journal/top-5-reasons-to-learn-to-dive.

Weather

<img src="{filedir_2}Alfred_Breakwater.jpg" alt="Alfred Pier, Port St Mary" title="" width="210" height="136" />

The only negative thing I can say is that the weather is very changeable. The wind, with resultant swell, can be quite ferocious and very choppy, especially if is against the tide!

Even though we are on an Island and its possible to find somewhere to dive in the lee, it can be very disruptive!

We also occasionally experience advection fog, colloquially known as Manannans Cloak.

Manannan is the mythical god of the sea, lord and protector of the Isle of Man. His cloak is a mythical shroud of mist that Manannan would throw over the island to shroud us from our enemies in times of trouble. The cloak would roll in from the sea over the land, covering all from prying eyes, keeping Islanders safe from unwanted visitors.

What are you waiting for!!!

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has "special rates for divers":http://www.steampacketholidays.com/SteamPacketHolidays/Isle-of-Man-Holidays/Diving-Breaks-in-the-Isle-of-Man.htm and of course I am here if you want some help and advice. Free, providing of course you let me dive with you during your trip :-)

The wonderful underwater photographs featured in this article are courtesy of Tim Nicholson who is currently Chairman of the BSAC dive club, Castle Rushen Divers, where I am a member.

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