Tonight (18th Jan) a special Burns supper will be conducted at the Hilton in Glasgow, all to raise funds for the Price and Princess of Wales Hospice.
The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice is a registered charity providing care, free of charge to all of their patients. The cost of doing so is an estimated £4.2 million and despite government funding they must raise £2.8 million to make ends meet. This equates to £10,400 every day which is a gargantuan task!
I have donated a canvass of my Forth Rail Bridge sunrise pictured above to take part in their art collection on the night, however you don’t have to go to the Burns night to help – have a look at their website and they have a number of ways that you can help, not just by donating money but by lots of fun activities.
Anyone who misses out on the night, I am able to provide further artwork and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Hospice. See the gallery at http://shanewasik.photoshelter.com/gallery/Forth-Bridges/G0000VNSKJD0x6wU/
See the Hospice’s website at http://www.ppwh.org.uk/default.html
Look out for my article on the upside down wreck in this month’s SCUBA Magazine. Thanks to Stevie Adams for the fine art work and Iain and Jim Easingwood for putting a trip together to get out to the site.
More images can be seen here –http://shanewasik.photoshelter.com/gallery/Upside-Down-Wreck/G0000D33aTMQCQOA
Lying 997m above sea level in the Cairngorms National Park lies Loch Corie an Lochain, the highest Loch in Scotland and also the UK. Hearing some rumours about some clear water I planned a mission to go and find out for myself. The only trouble with the remote location is that everything including dive gear, cameras, mountain safety gear, clothes, food, etc had to carried in and out. Not the usual setup for scuba diving where most people flop off a boat or have a short walk from the shore!
Walking through the Rothiemurchus estate and ancient pine forest was a pleasure and the first few hours were enjoyable as the formed path followed the river. After a couple of hours, it was time to get off the track and head straight up the mountain side – the ‘easy’ part had finished! The shortest route followed a stream bed that flows from the corie and started off as heather, rising up to a steep boulder slope. This ascent was energy sapping and with the incline and weight of my pack knowing at me, I was almost at a stage of throwing in the towel. Thankfully I pressed on the complete the mission!!!
4 hours after starting I reached the Coire bowl, which lies underneath the summit of Braeriach, Scotland’s (and UK’s) third highest mountain at 1296m. The landscape is amazing here as you can look down towards Aviemore through the Glen in one direction and in the other, jagged cliffs of the corie under the snowy peak. It certainly provided for a spectacular dive setting and one very unique in my diving career!
In addition to the landscape, what is amazing here is the clarity of the water. Originating from snow melt and with no sediment or peat the water, it is amazingly clear. The blue coloration is unheard of in Scotland and is usually restricted to the Pacific or more tropical climes. Granite boulders line the edge and some of these have a bright orange colour, which provide a brilliant contrast against the blue water. There is a trade off however and it’s in the temperature. The water was a cool 4degrees, which requires serious dive armour and in turn means weight and thankfully I was able to use rocks from the side of the loch to offset the positive buoyancy. The water did seem to be a little lifeless at first but on closer inspection revealed an algal community along with insects such as water boatmen, I would expect there would be a little more in full summer but I’m not so sure any fish would survive the harshness of this environment. Not having much time, I only had around 20min to look around, so I managed to capture some video and stills footage before exiting the water to face an icy wind in which to get changed.
Once packed up again, with the all laden water in the neoprene, the total weight must have increased a good 5-10kg. Initially the thought of being downhill from here on was an advantage (and gave me some much needed motivation). However the increased pressure from the weight pulling you off-balance was an added factor to deal with but I picked a better route for the descent and I was glad to reach the formed land rover track at the bottom. The return journey was a little quicker and I was accompanied by the setting sun and beauty of the national park, reaching the car on dark. 25km’s for 9hours total time….some folk say I’m mad but there are some amazing places to discover- you just have to make the effort to explore them!
5th October 2012 – This will be the one year anniversary of the Rena running aground on Astrolabe Reef. A full year later so much has happened…..
All those dives at Astrolabe over the years and little did we know things were gonna change big style….!
Hard to believe it’s a year ago already! I still remember the text at 7:20 am that day which was only a few hours following the grounding….’container ship run aground on Astrolabe’. Then disbelief as my brain processed the information I had just read! So many thoughts running through my mind, will they tow her off? What if she sinks? Will we be able to dive it? What about the cave, is the reef damaged? What is she carrying, how much oil….?
Being President of the New Zealand Underwater Association at the time, we had great concerns over the consequences and I got pulled into a TV interview. Nobody mentioned not to keep my hands together, as I’m usually quite animated when I talk! They were hungry for footage some of my own was released to show everyone what the reef was like had here in the bay. TV3 News
The days following the grounding were full on, I was drafted into the crisis team and helped provide local marine knowledge on high risk environments round the Bay. This covered everything you could think of from seal colonies at Plate Island (Motunau), Marine Reserves at Mayor Is (Tuhua), submerged reefs, estuaries or even historic shipwrecks such as the S.S. Taupo. A range of people were pulled in and a broad scale risk coverage of the Bay was quickly established. This helped plan out where responses should be focussed and where priorities would lie should the world case scenario happen.
It was quickly discovered that very little information or data was available on the general marine environment in the Bay. There were lots of long term scientific data from the likes of the marine reserve at Mayor Island (Tuhua) which had been studied for at least 2 decades or even the wreck of the Taioma which had been studied by the polytec for 10 years prior as part of the Resource Consent. However with such a varied and geographically large ecosystem, factual knowledge needed to be gained with great urgency so a baseline level could be established. Should there be a long term impact, a pre-Rena benchmark needed to be known.
A rapid response team was quickly mobilised including myself, the Bay of Plenty Polytec and Waikato University staff and assets. Thankfully the weather was holding and we managed to get out later that day.
The media were scrambling for information at this point and I was persuaded to go on live news the next morning prior to heading out for more surveys. Despite only a few hours sleep and 10min before we left to go out, I didn’t even get a coffee before I went on and I followed on from the Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby being interviewed.
Surviving the interview, we managed a full day at sea, where we surveyed and recorded a selection of environments, round the Bay. This covered everything from video and photography surveys, fish counts, tissue sampling, reef classification and identification work. A record of what these environments were like on 6/7th October 2011 – a snapshot in time!
Conditions were great with a slight surge and swell but the sun was shining and visibility generally good, perhaps 10-15m.Despite the ship being on the horizon, it was like any other day out in the bay! We covered many area’s and following a number of sites and seal counts around Plate (Motunau) Island we were joined by one of the residents there. Encounters with fur seals are awesome, big puppy dog eyes reveal an inquisitive nature as they pirouette and dive around you. They are so streamlined and put us awkward divers to shame. I felt some trepidation for the future of this amazing animal as we watched it as who knew what the consequences would be at this point. I guess we all knew in our hearts that things could get a lot worse…..
Here is some video from the NZ Fur Seal/Kekeno (Arctocephalus forsteri) at Plate Island.
Following the initial surveys, the days were a blur, back at the day job things were manic and then the weather turned nasty……
Driving through the middle of a European city, ending up in the industrial district and then into the underground. Built of limestone the remains of the mine/brewery are a mind blowing dive!!! Mid winter = 13deg!
Look out soon for the articles!!!
Following diving, we took part in a scientific trip to the Jozsef-Hegy cave!!!! The squeezes were worth it!!!!!