Scapa Flow 2013 - PART TWO: Ctrl + F8 = HMS Carlsberg

The second day of our Scapa Flow adventure started early, very early. I don't really do early and have been known, if left unattended, to sleep for up to 16 hours; so it was quite a shock to the system to be up before 8am. I was both excited and nervous about the pending dives, so that was enough to get me out of the very comfortable bunk bed and wander around the ship.

The Valkyrie was immaculate from top to bottom. UK weather and UK diving is hard on everything, so i was continually surprised to find how fresh everything looked aboard; not to mention the fact that everything actually worked. TV worked, tumble drier worked, all the breakfast stuff worked, lights worked, toilet worked; it was all very cool. Attention to details says a lot about an operation, so i was fairly confident the president had been set.

Dinner table
Drysuit space and benches
Living room

Breakfast was the first task of the day. I'm prone to a little bacon for brekky, but when I'm diving i don't like to 'bag myself up' so usually go for the more boring cereal option; i know - the horror. Helen, the cooking person, had organised a cereal section, toasting facilities, tea/coffee and an egg machine. 

The egg machine fascinated me, and despite not eating eggs i was tempted to have a go out of pure curiosity. That said, Martin Robson appeared to struggle with it and he's a technical diving instructor, so it was probably best for the safety of others i kept away from it.

The diving kicked off almost immediately after breakfast. I had retired to the living room bit when Hazel entered, plonked herself in front of the TV, propped up a whiteboard showing a map of a shipwreck and bellowed:


Her deep Scottish accent demanded obedience, and divers scuttled from around the ship fighting for space on the sofas. I was just glad i wasn't last.


I'm completely crap when it comes to dive briefings, they only make sense to me AFTER I've finished the dive, but Hazel's briefing was up there with the best of them. 

The Skipper had obviously a vast knowledge of the wrecks, and was able to provide an excellent history of events and highlight areas of note on the wreck itself worth investigating. 

Wreck info: 

SMS Karlsruhe was a light cruiser of the Königsberg class, built for the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) during World War I. She was named after the earlier Karlsruhe, which had sunk in November 1914, from an accidental explosion. The new cruiser was laid down in 1914 at the Kaiserliche Werft shipyard in Kiel, launched in January 1916, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in November 1916. Armed with eight 15 cm SK L/45 guns, the ship had a top speed of 27.5 kn (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph). Karlsruhe was interned in Scapa Flow after the end of the war, and scuttled there on 21 June 1919. [SOURCE: Wikipedia]

Kerri, Dave and I decided on a dive plan. Gases were simple - 32% and 100%, minimum gas was established, and we calculated we had loads of time. Then a slight problem arose; Orkney was suffering from a lack of oxygen. Initially i was concerned the good people of Orkney were dropping in the street unable to breathe due to some global-warming-apocalyptic-catastrophe; but thankfully that was not the case. 

zero oxygen in Orkney!

It transpired J cylinders of O2 had not arrived as scheduled. Coupled with the fact we had to travel with empty cylinders, team Ireland had to change the dive plan somewhat.

Rob, the third crew member of The Valkyrie, was left the unfortunate task of informing us of said deficit, and subsequently coming up with a solution. Thankfully Rob was able to squeeze enough O2 from his limited supply and grant us 32% backgas, but no deco cylinders. I had a sad. A quick chat with Kerri, and we agreed to simply keep an eye on average depth and manipulate the dive accordingly; accruing no more than 5 mins deco on backgas. Crisis averted. 

We then assigned the team; Kerri was deco captain, Joe was bagging off, i was visual reference and Dave was ... well, Dave was on holiday.


As we got our kit sorted and donned the fabulous Santi's, Joe asked if it was ok if he joined us. I knew Joe was a GUE Tech 1 diver so i said that was no problem; we had the same training and would all be on the same page. Then i noted Joe's set up.

"Eh, yeah ... diving with us is cool; but you're going to have to talk me through ... eh ... that."

Joe smirked:

"It's pretty straight forward. It's just an Inspiration Classic, with a few mods." 

"Aye. A few mods. Right."

Milky Joe's tumble dryer

Personally i thought it looked like a tumble dryer. I have no experience with rebreathers at all, and had never buddied up with a rebreather diver before. Joe gave me a quick rundown:

"If i look dead - close this, then bring me to the surface please. Dump air with this button and this button. If you need gas i'll give you this reg, but i'd like you to move to another OC diver in our team after we get you sorted." 

"Eh, cool."

I had never dived from a ship like The Valkyrie before, and i have to admit i was a little nervous, and so conducted a brief chat with Rob to make sure i knew what the craic was. Rob was very helpful and kept it nice and simple for me; and also slightly amused due to his Yorkshire (?) accent:

"You giant stride out the hole in the hull here, and make it a goodn'" 
"Ok, and getting back in?" 
 "I'll lower the lift. Step onto it. Hold the handles and nod at me. I'll lift ye up, then step off and sit down. I'll then bring ye a tea or hot choccy. Ok?" 

I nodded; half concerned he would lift me up there and then.

"I mean, eh, Ok."

Skipper Hazel soon demonstrated she'd done this a few time before when dropping us in. I could see Rob muttering into a headset of some description, and we were promptly asked to stand and make our way to 'hole in té hull.' Dutifully Team Ireland followed Joe, and on command from Rob, we plummeted into the dark cold water beneath. I signalled OK and the current gently moved me to the shot line; oh yeah, Hazel had done that plenty times before.

Our team gathered and descended the shot line. Bubble check with Joe revealed i had a slight leak at my tank valve. Joe approached and between us we closed valves, reseated first stages, and got things back on track. The process was smooth and simple, a tech 1 scenario played out a million times - GUE training in action, awesome.

At the bottom of the shot line our team gathered again and Joe led the way. When i say 'led' i mean took off like a mad man. At one point i had to double check he didn't have a scooter. We finally caught Joe, curbed his enthusiasm somewhat, and explored the wreck.

Dave trying to keep up with Joe
Kerri in the middle of wreck, as usual

It was a massive chunk of metal. I couldn't really get to grips with the orientation of it. The visibility was ok, but a cloudy 6m made getting a good idea of the scale tricky enough. We did manage to find the control tower and the huge anchor, as well as some pretty cool swim throughs. We found a particularly dark section towards the end of the dive, and i have to admit my curiosity was spiked, but it was VERY dark...

The dive concluded, our team got sorted, and Joe bagged off as promised. Kerri led the ascent, I provided a visual reference, and Dave ... well, Dave was on holiday.

As we bobbed on the surface, it was very impressive to watch as Hazel steered the enormous vessel that came to rest just before us. It was then time to tackle the lift which was just as Rob explained; a totally straight forward process.

He wasn't joking about the tea either!

Tea and choccy!


The Valkyrie is renowned for it's food and i was looking forward to testing it out. Lunch was hot soup and rolls; perfect after a cold water adventure, yet light enough not to make the next dive uncomfortable. It was gorgeous, accompanied by the lunchtime discussion on the topic of anal bleaching. Don't ask; but the consensus was some assholes do need to lighten up.

A healthy surface interval later ...


F8 F2 (3 WRECKS)

I scarpered for a seat on the sofa, making sure Hazel knew i wasn't the last to attend, and did my best to memorise the information she provided; badly. It was an interesting site as it enabled three dives, on one dive, so to speak. There was the F8, or F2 i mean, a crane that was salvaging the wreck and was pulled underwater when they moored too tightly, and finally a dive boat that also moored and forgot about tidal shifts. Thankfully lines were attached to the wrecks, so no one could miss them!

Our team gathered and the plan was to hit the barge, then head over to the F8, i mean F2. Once on the F2 we would see how things were and maybe head out to the dive boat. It was a shallow dive at 18m, so we had loads of options. We elected to dive in buddy pairs, as the visibility didn't lend itself well to a large team, but would probably end up ascending together. Kerri was deco captain once more, i would shoot the bag if Joe wasn't about, and Dave, well ... Dave was on holiday.

I actually enjoyed the crane on the barge section the most. Kerri and I had a great wee nosey through some doorways, and i had to admit i was sorely tempted to line off for a wee look-see; but i didn't - cause I'm pretty much afraid of inside things underwater. A resident conger also poked his head out. A short while later we tagged on with Joe & Dave and headed over to the F2. The F2 was very badly broken up, but still very cool, and it was definitely weird to look at it's guns located somewhere else!

Joe and his tumble dryer

Kerri leaving the crane

Collectively we ended up at another line, which obviously led to the dive boat. I signalled to Joe if he fancied it, to which he OK'd, and the four of us finned for several minutes to the dive boat. I felt shame, bearing in mind there was a 'proper' war wreck not 50m away, but we did have lots of fun on the little dive boat. It was just cool to dive something that i was able to associate with - we had a blast.

Eventually we managed to drain sufficient gas from our twinsets and headed for the surface; Rob's ever pleasant bearded face beckoning with the promise of tea and hot choccy. I enjoy when such little gestures become an expected routine. Another growing routine was Helen the feeder. Once we had sorted the gear, and donned a more civilised attire, Helen provided us with cake; a monstrous cake, a fabulous, tasty, cake. I ate some. 

sight seeing from The Valkyrie

After cake we had a couple of hours to get back to shore; so i tidied up some bits and pieces whilst watching the rebreatherer people deconstruct and construct their mental machines. I'm not sure I've the mindset for those things, but i did enjoy being talked through the ins and outs of Bruce's Inspiration; even if he does carry an underwater man-bag.

As i dozed in the lounge a bell clanged to signify dinner was ready - hurrah! Two giant trays of venison shepherd's pie were presented on the galley table as part of our 3 course meal. As i expected, dinner was fabulous; and i don't even like shepherds pie. I ate too much, as i expected. Post dinner, Helen kindly provided our group with keen directions for a seal walk along the shore.

chimps tea party

Kerri and I enjoyed a relaxing dander along the sea front, but alas no seals.

old bunker
Hamnaove ferry
Sunset of Age

Having conducted some exercise and healthy activities i decided i deserved a beer; so we found ourselves a pub and did just that. Only one beer mind you. The single beer could have been attributed to the weird old man that sat beside me but refused to acknowledge my existence when i politely spoke; or perhaps when i finally noted the 'toilet broken' sign on the toilet door, right after i .. i'd best leave that there.

Back on The Valkyrie, Wifebuddy disappeared to bed, whilst I stayed up and watched a DVD, accompanied by a few others; not omitting Dave and his guffin' feet.

Part 1
 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

I Are Diver XMAS QUIZ!

Christmas is here, and as an act of festive cheer and general good will I have decided to hold an I ARE DIVER XMAS QUIZ. The questions will be questionable, the prizes will be mediocre, but it will be a sock-full of fun for all!

Here be the details...


  • 24th Dec to 28th Dec
  • 7pm - 8pm (London GMT time)


I Are Diver Facebook page


Every night there will be one main question, followed by a bonus question. All questions are to be answered in the comments section under the question.

A point system will be used:



1st correct answer = 5 points
2nd correct answer = 4 points
3rd correct answer = 3 points
4th correct answer = 2 points
5th correct answer = 1 point

  • BONUS 

1 point for 1st correct answer

I get the last say, and it will be how the answers appear on MY facebook timeline. Them's the rules people!


There will be 3 prizes, and they'll be a big surprise! It'll be totally worth it ... Honest! .. ahem...

Good luck folks, see you tomorrow night on the facebook page!