Friday, 14 September 2007

The Chimps Do Scapa - Part 1

[B]Part One....[/B]

The Go with the Flow 2007 Tour Trip Report

the chimps all arrived at my house on Thursday evening, to be greeted with an evening meal cooked by the fair hand of my good lady wife, and two cars to pack. We loaded the cars at my house at 10pm on the Sunday, and it was touch and go as to whether we are going to have to take three cars. As it was we had to leave 5 stages behind, leaving only ten for the 5 of us to share. We all then decided to get an early night. I checked the spare room carefully, but despite apparently drilling through the walls all night with a hammer drill, there appeared to be no damage to the room Howard was in. We could not understand it, but jumped in the cars at 0430 and began the long trip up to Scotland

The trip up to Scrabster was, as you can imagine, a riot with all the chimps in tow. Howard's car was "dragging it's arse up the motorway like a dog with worms". Gareth's was not a great deal better, and had all the acceleration of an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping. It was especially slow when Gareth was actually driving it, and speeded up considerably when someone else got behind the wheel. Howard, as usual was driving like someone had set fire to his arse, and we made good progress throughout the day. The banter was flowing thick and fast, as was the coffee to keep us conscious after the 4am start. Travelling up to Scrabster usually forms part of the holiday, as it's a good laugh, but it is a hell of a way, 718 miles and 13 hours.

We arrived in Scrabster, where I had booked us all into the ferry inn for the night before the ferry. This turned out to be one of my better decisions as we all managed to get shitfaced with only a 1 minute walk to the Ferry in the morning. Closely following us, Diane (Ms Diane, Lady Di, Chimp Bitch) arrived shortly after, followed by the Two Nics. A fairly heavy drinking session ensued, which give that neither Dave nor I are heavy drinkers, rapidly became quite messy.....

In the morning, we all had a great breakfast, with the exception of Howard, who had spent the night apparently drilling into the walls again.

We arrived at the ferry terminal in plenty of time to greet the people from week one. I was particularly looking forward to us. We bumped into SteveS who assured us that the week1 group had had a great time, with good viz. The two groups on the boat had kept largely to themselves so there was little unpleasant politics. 3 of the week1 group had decided to bail early and gone home on the Friday night ferry, depriving us of the ability to ask them how they got on. Never mind, eh. The ferry across from Scrabster was a little lively. It was as windy as I had seen it, and the skipper of the ferry apparently agreed as he didn't go past the old man of Hoy to my disappointment, but rather went through the flow itself, past Lyness and up towards Stromness this way. As we went past the entrance to the flow, we could see the carnage out in the open sea and decided the skipper was probably wise. The chimps were getting a little out of control on the ferry - we all have a form of primate attention deficit disorder. Luckily, Diane provided a variety of toys and games, which kept the chimps quiet and out of trouble; at least until they figured out that they couldn't eat, fight or have sex with any of the toys provided. Then, once again, chimp induced carnage ensued. After giving all of toys with pure altruism, Di was rewarded with the words "are you going to take all this shit with you, or leave it here".

The weather, frankly, was appalling. Driving rain and a serious wind. Ian the skipper was there ready to greet us, and watched in amused bewilderment as we proceeded to unload a phenomenal amount of kit. 12 divers on the boat, with 20 twin sets and Christ knows how many stages and oxygen bottles. We got all the kit stowed away, and began the traditional mad fettling session. Some amusing highlights were GLOC pouring the water out of his Argon bottle prior to deciding to run his suit off his stage bottle instead, and Markosis compensating for ill-fitting twin set bands with rubber bands and duct tape. Diane was genuinely upset that someone pointed at a stage with a suicide clip on it and asked if it was hers.

One moment that amused me was collecting the "in case of emergency" forms provided by the skipper to be filled out by us all. On Gareth's some subtle editing had added the words "unfeasibly small penis" to his lists of distinguishing marks. Howard's could not be edited by the author of this piece, as he had already filled out his form with the words "my drowned and bloated carcass could be identified by my enormous schram, red and scarred".

The mandatory trips to Scapa Scuba were made to pick up low pressure hoses, fix Howard's dry suit, and pick up various shiny things. Dave and I then settled down to complete the main task of the evening, which was to change the wrist and neck seals on Diane's suit. This turned into a bit of a drama as the neck seal was a swine to get off, but the wrist seals amusing "popped off" with almost no effort, leaving no residual glue anywhere, which I found a little worrying. Howard's Salvo promptly committed suicide as the battery cables snapped off. Scapa Scuba essentially refused to touch, so Dave set about it with a soldering iron, a blow torch and a nail. Howard looked worried...