23rd -25th August

Cost

Divers £180, Non divers £80.

About the dive centre

Puffin Dive Centre is ideally situated – on the waters edge at Port Gallanach, 1-½ miles south of Oban on the Kerrera Sound coast road.

Puffin Pontoon

As one of the UK’s Premier Dive Centres, Puffin Dive Centre incorporates all its facilities on a 3-acre waterside site. The purpose built centre contains the training, retail and service side of Puffin Dive Centres’ unique operation with further facilities positioned strategically around the site for ease of use.

Access to the centre is as easy by sea as it is by land. Their pontoon, pier and slipway make arrival by sea to our private bay extremely easy. Travelling and navigating to the many dive sites locally, is made easy as the centre is centrally located with some great dive sites as close as five minutes away. Both site and centre are second to none. .

Coxing the boat is a Puffin Dive Centre staff member who is a certified and experienced RYA Coastal Skipper; in addition, the Cox will also hold the minimum qualifications of PADI Instructor, First Aider, Oxygen Provider and GMDSS or VHF operator. The Cox is familiar with all the sites visited, ensuring that your pre-dive briefing includes everything you need. Puffin has an excellent reputation for safety and professionalism. Currently all Puffin Dive Centre vessels are fitted with twin engines, this makes the trips fast, reliable and gives an additional safety element.

Whatever diving you prefer – scenic, wreck or drift – the full range is covered with distance no object; your enjoyment and fun is Puffin’s priority.

Back on site the facilities are many and include slipway, daily and overnight parking both for car and boats, moorings, toilets and hot showers. Fuel, both petrol and diesel, are situated on the quay side allowing boats to be fuelled easily and RIB’s whilst they are still in the water. Equipment wash, equipment storage and changing room are adjacent to the slip, a sectioned off training area and 24 hour site presence.

Finally, after a hard days diving, Puffin Dive Centre accommodation is warm, comfortable and waiting for you. This ranges from twin and double rooms in a town-situated bungalow, to chalet style accommodation right on site.

Hard Boat P5 Urchin

Urchin Dive Charters – B017/0108

Urchin Bow

The West Coast of Scotland is home to some of the most spectacular diving in the UK. Puffin Dive Centre based just outside Oban is a perfect gateway and a logical start point for diving trips.

THE URCHIN is a twin jet powered catamaran capable of speeds of up to 20 knots and cruising at around 8 knots. Jet propulsion virtually eliminates the risk of propeller injury to divers. The Urchin employs two powerful BMW engines, ensuring redundancy in the unlikely event of failure.

Managed from the bridge, THE URCHIN is equipped with GPS, radar, VHF, echo sounder and phone. Full MSA and DOT certification with independent inspection ensure full compliance with our registration and insurance for 12 divers and 4 crew. Category 3 allows the Urchin to operate up to 20 miles from safe heaven and for night operations.

For passengers comfort seating in the enclosed saloon area with ample space in the under seat wet dive lockers. All your diving equipment has a wet and dry storage area.

The “head” or toilet system is to a good standard including a shower etc in the domestic style rather than marine.

Urchin has fitted Galley providing endless supplies of tea and coffee. Time permitting, a light snack is available at the start of the day and for lunchtime a further light snack of a salad or baked potato variety is available. Divers are encouraged to bring their own supplementary or alternative food if they require extra or special diets. During some of the trips carried out by the Urchin stops can be made at various locations to enjoy the scenery.

When weather permits, relaxing on the deck, chatting in the bridge, or snoozing in the saloon area, makes for a great and enjoyable day.

Urchin sailing

Each Urchin skipper has a minimum qualification of RYA Coastal SkipperEmergency First ResponderOxygen First Aid Provider and years of diving experience as an Instructor and as a skipper. Not only do our staff have extensive knowledge of the local area but also have literally 100’s of dives at each of the dive sites visited.

Crewing the Urchin are Puffin Dive Centres’ professional staff. As a minimum requirement all crew on the Urchin will be certified as Oxygen First Aid Providers, Medic First Aiders, and usually Diving Instructors within a variety of diving organisations including PADI, TDI and BSAC. Unlike many other operators throughout the country all of the Urchins crew will be qualified to the highest level in all diving activities that you will undertake and are always on hand to give advice and guidance when you need it.

With the full back up from Puffin Dive Centre any eventuality or crisis, serious or not, will be handled thoroughly and efficiently. With the ongoing training our staff go through, all possibilities are covered and all resources from around the centre are combined to make the end result a success.

Boarding the Urchin is normally from its’ base at Puffin Dive Centre where safe car parking space is provided for all divers at a nominal rate. Prior to departure the fully stocked shop at the dive centre will be open for all those last minute spares to avoid being disappointed later in the day. With an extensive range of top quality stock you can either compliment your equipment with additional parts or even build a complete new set of kit for yourself with the guarantee that the equipment you buy from us is the best on the market.

Dolphin

Urchin does not carry dive spares and groups and individuals should ensure that adequate reserves exist to cover eventualities.

Most groups are eager to take advantage of dive sites without other traffic and this is usually best achieved by a departure time of 0830. Meeting at 0800 on the first day unless agreed otherwise will allow ample time for loading and travel.

Briefings consist of a pre boarding safety briefing on the fist day followed by the boat briefing for the current day. Prior to arrival at the site, a site plan and briefing is discussed, allowing divers to maximise their opportunity.

Once underway, there is plenty of time to relax with an emphasis on complete readiness at the dive site on arrival. This allows good use of the day and avoids group members waiting around unnecessarily.

The daily plan will have been agreed prior to departing and will depend on the tides and weather and abilities for the day. The only other limiting factor will be the distance to a site, which will obviously use up part of your day. Normally at least one wreck site will be visited each day unless other sites are requested. All diving is within recreational parameters of maximum 35 metres and 45 minutes duration. Suitable qualified and capable divers may request an extension prior to the dive.

Under Urchin

After your dive, entering the boat couldn’t be easier. The Urchin being a catamaran drives slowly over the top of you as you swim between the two hulls and follow the rope to the unique ladder at the moon pool on the rear deck.

The diving day is usually over by 1600 hours allowing time for gas fills and preparation for the next day. This gives a minimum of 16 hours surface interval.

Puffin can provide accommodation during your stay in our self-catering waterfront chalets or in our Oban town house. After the days diving some divers may wish to have extra dives or night dives from the Urchin. These should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment, or can be booked at the start of the day.

Full kit hire is available all the year round from Puffin Dive Centre. Weights and tanks can also be hired for the duration of your trip. Most divers prefer to fill and check their own fills however an option of having tanks filled by Puffin Dive Centre staff at the end of your day and loaded back on the Urchin ready for you to depart the next morning is available.

Food 
That good subject – Food on board is generally of the high energy simple affair. It is assumed that divers will bring supplementary water and cold drinks and snacks, chocolates etc. At the start of each day passengers will be given a choice of items for lunch which is inclusive in the price. For instance – Ploughmans or Baked Potato with tuna and mayo or sausage butties, Soup and rolls etc. This is followed by fruit, yoghurt or similar with the usual tea coffee etc. Most mornings the boat provides a quick AM snack of a fried egg roll (banjo) or similar sausage butty etc. We cannot guarantee to satisfy special tastes but we will try. Vegetarians should make special arrangements for their needs if the above items cannot be utilised.

During the last 2 or three seasons most groups have enjoyed the plan comprising of a snack on the way to the first site and after the dive a small elevenses type break during the surface interval, followed by the second dive then lunch. PDC will continue this unless directed otherwise.

Puffin Dive Centre will endeavour to deliver our divers to the site of their choice. Occasionally however weather and logistics play a part and subject to the skipper’s discretion sites may not be available.

Urchin alongside

Due to the nature of the diving available, it is inappropriate to specify absolute dive site choices and group leaders should be flexible in their planning and specifications.

It is very rare that days are lost completely due to weather (on average 2/3 per year) , however customers are recommended to take advantage of travel insurance so that the cost of the loss of a day(s) due to weather, or other circumstances outside of the control of the customer, is covered.

The Puffin Dive Centre cannot indemnify the customer against the loss of fees due to poor weather or conditions beyond their control

THE DIVING DAY

Boat crew usually start at around 0630hrs and prep the vessel for the dive trip. Food, fuel, water etc is preloaded in the clean down period the previous day with newspapers, milk etc loaded in the morning. On the first day groups are required to be at the pier head at 0800Hrs with their kit available to load and board the Urchin after a short (2/3 minutes) loading and introduction. The loading process will be asisted by crew and a discussion of sites for the trip and boat safety follows. This usually means a departure around 0830hrs.

Arrangements dependent on the dive site will be made and announced at the end of each day for the next day with an average departure time of 0800hrs.

Most days end back at PDC pre 1600Hrs depending again on destinations. As kitting up and preparation along with surface intervals are taken while travelling an average duration can be calculated by Trip out Time (max 3hrs) + Site 1 Time (Average 1Hr) + Travel to Site 2 Time + Site 2 Time (Average 1 Hr) + Return Trip to PDC Time.

PDC try to make the first destination the furthest point of the day putting Dive 2 on the route home and back at PDC site for further shore or training dives if required. Finishing the diving day around mid afternoon allows time to R&R and prep for the evening in Oban.

Planning the dives is easy but to optimise the dives speak to the skipper on the first day and agree the plan you would like. Remember that the major factors to allow for and to take into account are the tides on the days YOU have chosen and the weather on the days YOU have chosen. Asking the skipper for the impossible will not change anything – the skipper will just explain.