A club trip over to the south West Coast of Ireland in 2013 staying on the Dingle Peninsular proved to be similar to planning a mini expedition. First of all how to get there and secondly how to get all the gear over safely!
Organising this trip as part of our Advanced Diver qualification I took on the accommodation and getting there and Wayne Horner co-ordinated the dive gear and personal luggage with Steve Slade.
We looked at best options for getting there, some decided to travel by ferry whilst the remainder decided to fly.
For the gear and luggage we used Surefreight to handle our gear and luggage filling 3 crates. The collection and return of the crates went very smoothly, the customer service excellent and was a great way of transporting gear. Our B&B accommodation co-ordinated the delivery, storage and overseeing collection of the crates for which we are very grateful.
Those flying only took hand luggage and, apart from the usual problems with airport security at Manchester, the journey went quite smoothly with staff at Dublin airport proving to be far more pleasant than their counterparts in Manchester.
Mick from Dingle Shuttle Bus was there to greet us at Kerry airport as arranged, taking us on to our B&B accommodation Waterworld, Castlegregory.
Castlegregory although quite isolated is in a beautiful part of Ireland, where you can experience Irish hospitality at it’s best. If you are not happy just chilling out, making use of the facilities at the B&B, taking walks along the vast beaches or visiting one of the two pubs nearby – The Green Room an old fashioned Irish pub or Spillane's pub/restaurant serving fantastic freshly cooked, locally sourced food, then you will need transport.
There is a choice of 2 dive boats, accommodating 12 divers. A RIB with a ladder and shelf to help kitting up or the hardboat which has plenty of space for kitting up and move around, plus a WC.
We’d booked 10 dives Monday to Friday, although we did get blown out on the last day. Whilst the diving wasn’t out of this world we experienced some different and really nice gully dives with good topography in and around Gurrig and Inishtooskert Island the best being the Letterbox off Gurrig Island.
Swimming through a deep gully with a white sandy bottom and large boulders you come across a 'letterbox' shaped hole in the reef at around 7 - 9m depending on the tide. With lots of life to see such as jewel anemones, dead man's fingers, sponges, kelp, lobster and Pollack makes a good dive for keen photographers. Returning through the deep gully can be like riding a roller coaster with the surge but great fun.
A relaxing time with lots of good food and plenty of Guinness meant that the week was over far too quickly. Mick from Dingle Shuttle Bus picked us up early Saturday morning as arranged to take us back to Kerry airport. Unfortunately the flight was a bit late setting off which meant that there was a mad dash through Dublin airport for our flight back to Manchester!
A great trip but some lessons learnt:
- Work out the logistics of crate size versus gear
- Ensure you have plenty of time to go through security at Manchester
- Don’t talk back to airport security staff at Manchester they have no sense of humour let alone any common sense or courtesy
- You can’t please everyone so don’t sweat the small stuff
- Take your sea sick pills there is always a good swell
- Be prepared for some early nights - the sea air knocks you out
- Make sure if booking flights you leave plenty of time for your connecting flights
- Enjoy some really great food, great hospitality and plenty of Guinness