Guest blog: Diving on the Scottish wreck Rondo
Diving enthusiast and instructor Paul Murray will be guest blogging for this website every month. Paul, of Edinburgh-based Deep Blue Scuba, has an exciting life and job diving in Scottish waters. I have asked him to bring regular updates about his dives in Scotland’s sea and lochs. I’m fascinated by what lies beneath Scotland’s shoreline but I’m a scaredy cat and get too cold to dive! Paul knows far more than me in any case.
In his first guest blog he takes us underwater in the Sound of Mull to explore the famous shipwreck of the Rondo.
How the Rondo became a wreck: The steamship Rondo was wrecked in 1935 in the Sound of Mull. While sheltering from a storm, the steamship broke its anchor and drifted with the strong tide down the Sound of Mull, eventually being driven sideways across the small island of Dearg Sgir so hard that it was stranded.
For a while it was stuck on land but after extensive salvaging, including the removal of the hull and machinery, the balance of the craft was disturbed and the Rondo slid bow-first into the Sound of Mull.
The Rondo is a great wreck to dive to because of its condition and location. The bow now rests into the seabed on a slope, with the stern rising to just 5m below the surface.
Paul writes: “Easter is still a few weeks away but the boat diving season in the Sound of Mull is already well underway. In fact, it never really stops; instead it slows down and becomes a little more weather dependent.
“We took our first trip of the season to Lochaline last weekend and spent two days diving off the Brendan. The Sound is best known for ship wrecks and, sure enough, our first dive took us to the Rondo, a wreck lying on a slope. We were lucky enough to find the waters calm around the wreck, which starts only five metres below the surface.
“In fact, the conditions were ideal for descending further along the starboard side, taking in an array of soft corral and anemones, which are just starting to come out at this time of the year. It’s amazing to see.
“With the wreck lying on a slope, it was especially important to watch our depth. It would all too be easy to go below 40 metres, which is the maximum depth for PADI recreational divers. The wreck’s bow actually reaches well below 50 metres and requires special diving training if people want to explore this section of the wreck.
“Instead, we turned around and started zig-zagging slowly back to the surface, taking our time to explore what’s left of the engines and look into the ship’s hull.
“This is the ideal dive for getting the feel of what life must have been like on this steamship before it sunk during that stormy night.
“We spent about 40 minutes below the surface, enjoying the underwater exploration, before returning above water ready for a nice cup of tea.”
For more underwater pictures and information about the Sound of Mull visit Deep Blue Scuba, the Edinburgh-based PADI Scuba Diving Centre.
(Thanks to Gary Doak Photography and Tom Cavens for the images.)