The Isles of Scilly offer some of the best scenic diving in the U.K. They consist of over 150 islands and rocky islets of which only 5 are inhabited. The islands cover about 10 miles by 6 miles and, as a general rule, have deep water (60m+) outside and shallow inside.
Diving around the islands is a mixture of reef and wrecks in usually excellent visibility, with sheltered opportunities in almost all wind directions.
A variety of canyons, stepped reefs and sheer walls are home to a colourful variety of abundant marine life from Jewel Anemones to Fan Corals and Sponges. A long history of shipwrecks in the islands has provided a wide variety of wreck diving ranging from the mid-1600's to more recent years, from wooden sailing ships to steel ships.
The reefs range from areas of steep-sided canyons to sheer 50m walls or stepped reefs (where it is easy for all grades of diver to pick their depth). Many of the reefs are in places where the tide can run strong, creating very rich areas of marine life.
Walls of Jewel Anemones, Fan Corals, Ross Coral, Dead Man's Fingers, Plumose Anemones, Sponges and much more. All create a landscape that differs from reef to reef but is always full of colour and, in the usual good visibility, a sight not to be missed.
There is also the chance to dive with the Grey Seals: the chance to see these wild animals and at times play with them is a superb experience.
The Isles of Scilly has a long 'association' with shipwrecks. Many of these wrecks are of older wooden sailing ships; although the ship's structure has rotted long ago in most cases, there are still many artefacts to see including cannon balls, shot, anchors and the ships' fixtures and fittings.
There are also many steel wrecks that have many identifiable areas, although the winter storms have caused some of the shallower ones to break up. A lot of the wrecks have growths of colourful marine life.
(Please note that the modern wrecks were salvaged in the past and it is therefore very unlikely that you will find trophies!)
Both Moonshadow and Morvoren are equipped with VHF, Sounder, Radar and DGPS. The vessels are licensed and the crew have MCA and local licenses. The skippers are both BSAC Advanced Instructors.
Onboard equipment includes: O2 Admin, large first aid kit, mobile phone. A cooker to make hot drinks (supplied) between dives. Weights and a set of equipment for emergency loan are kept on board. Some equipment is for sale.
The day's departure times are flexible and the skipper will decide these depending on when you can get the best dive, taking into account weather and tides.
On a day we leave early it is often possible to drop the party on another island. Shelter can be found in the islands in most weathers. In the rare occurrence of such poor conditions that a good safe site is not available we will cancel the day's trip.
We use over 155 top sites, all of which we have dived ourselves. This means we can brief, on arrival at site, on: depths, tides, where to go and what to see (in great detail on most wrecks), best direction for marine life on reefs, and safety and advice about the dive, the conditions, and entry / exit from the water.
Our compressors are triple filtered and use oils compatible with O2 cleaned cylinders. Nitrox is not available on the islands due to transport fees that would result in very high fill charges.
The hardboat bookings are usually for 6 days, Sunday to Friday. The prices quoted are for 2 dives a day. Hot drinks are supplied between dives.
Morvoren Charters, prices for 2016 (excluding modest air costs) are:
£345 for groups of 9-10, £337 for groups of 7-8. Please note that we are unable to supply second cylinders.
Moonshadow Charters, prices for 2016:
£220 per person for 6 days diving for 9-12 divers, excluding air. For groups of 8 or less there is a minimum boat price of £1980 per week. 4 or 5 day weeks considered. Please note that we are unable to provide second cylinders.
Air £4.25 per cylinder, £2.25 for pony cylinders. Please note that Nitrox is not available on the islands.
Hard boat diving charters from St Martin's are offered on Morvoren, a powerful Offshore 105, by Tim Allsop who has more than 20 years local diving and boating experience. This charter service provides access to diving sites throughout the islands.
Tim Allsop is an experienced dive skipper and diving instructor. A BSAC Advanced Instructor and First Class Diver, he also has MCA and local licenses to operate Morvoren, a powerful Offshore 105, in these challenging and rewarding waters. The skipper has full knowledge of more than 155 Isles of Scilly sites - as a diver and as a skipper. A great many of these sites, already classics, were discovered by ScillyDiving and new diving gems are discovered every year.
The detailed knowledge means that the skipper can be certain of selecting the best sites in the prevailing conditions, ensuring a high quality choice for the charter group. This experience of the reefs, wrecks, tides and sea states also means that the skipper can brief divers on ways to get the best possible dive.
Hard boat diving charters from St Mary's are offered by Jo Williams on Moonshadow, a Lochin 33.
Jo Williams is a BSAC Advanced Diver and Advanced Instructor and has a full local licence. Now in her 12th season on Mooshadow she has over 17 years charter experience with extensive local knowledge of sites and conditions. Moonshadow has a very spacious deck with cylinder rack and a large inner cabin. There is a very easy stride entry and easy climb ladder exit. Onboard equipment includes VHF, Sounder, Radar, GPS, and O2 kit. There is also a flushable toilet on board. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are supplied.
Moonshadow Diving now has its own compressor. As a joint venture with David McBride from Tiberon Diving Charters and with funding aid from the 'Local Action Group' we now have a new Bauer compressor installed in our store on the quayside.
We also run a licensed 6.3m / 115hp RIB, fully equipped, for smaller groups of up to 6. Trips can be arranged on a one dive daily basis or a 2 dives a day week's charter.
The RIB is staffed by a licensed boatman and Advanced Diver / Instructor with extensive knowledge of sites and conditions.
To charter the RIB costs £300 per day for 2 dives. Air fills £3.90 per cylinder. Please note that Nitrox is not available on the islands. We can provide air fills for non charter customers at a cost of £4.90 per cylinder.
A comprehensive brief will be given at all sites. On board safety equipment includes Oxygen Administration, first aid kit, VHF Radio, Sounder, GPS and O2. Hot drinks are supplied.
Because the trips are relatively short (all sites are within the islands) divers have little time to get cold, and shelter is easy to find between dives.