Exploring the undersea world around Skye
The more observant of you may have noticed us sloping out of Otter Lodge on a school day; only to come back a few hours later looking a bit bedraggled and busying ourselves with buckets of wet gear. Ask us what we’ve been up to and the answer is a great passion of ours: scuba diving.
Diving is the ideal hobby when you run a B&B. Now, folk might think that once breakfast is served we’re free to spend the day watching TV until bedtime. If only this were true (sigh) but we’re normally kept occupied with a few things like cleaning, laundry and tattie scones. That’s the thing about lifestyle businesses – they keep you pretty busy.
Fortunately we’ve found a way of shoehorning extracurricular activities into our seven-day working weeks. Many exciting things are possible on the Isle of Skye, but some things are more suitable than others. Mountaineering is a bit risky, not so much due to dangerous rocks but because you don’t want to be still dangling at the end of a rope when the kids have to be picked up from school. Sea kayaking is also possible; but can aggravate a baker’s elbows.
You might be surprised to hear that scuba diving fits the bill. It works like this: Martin fills our cylinders with air when he has a free moment (!) and once we’ve done all the necessary cleaning and tidying we head off for the nearest beach. A dive will usually take no more than about hour (we’ve only got so much air) and we can be back in time for the ironing.
We’ve done a lot of dives recently: over one hundred and seventy in the last couple of years and nearly all of them around Skye. There’s huge variety in what you can see; one day you might be immersed in a waving forest of kelp, another might find you deep in the darkness of a sea loch. You can’t help but start to want to know more about the stuff you encounter.
As luck would have it, there’s a fantastic scheme called Seasearch that helps people who dive for a hobby develop the skills to survey undersea wildlife. Once qualified, you can record the species and environments you encounter and contribute to marine conservation. We qualified after hosting a course at Otter Lodge last year and it’s added a whole new dimension to our diving. Now we descend into the depths with our wee slates and scribble down all the cool things we find: pink spotted sea cucumbers, fireworks anemones, phosphorescent sea pens. It’s a weird and fascinating world down there…