Saturday, 18 December 2010

Scottish Diver Book Review of Wrecks and Reefs of Southeast Scotland

Here is a review of my book as featured in this months Scottish Diver. For more reviews and comments pleas see Mikes Book on the Main Page of my website
A Dive
With A
received a dive guide to review let alone
one as good as this. There are other
guides available for parts of this area
notably St. Abbs and Eyemouth but here
Mike has chosen to review a wider area
stretching from Burntisland to the Isle of
May and south to Holy Isle.
Mike lives in Musselburgh almost in
the centre of the area covered and it is
clear that 25 years experience diving the
area have gone into this book. Mike is
passionate about his diving and photography
and it is obvious, that this project
has been a labour of love.
The hundred dives Mike has chosen
reflect his development in diving with
dives varying in depth from 8m-58m.
He begins with all the usual thanks and
acknowledgments, a ‘how to use this
guide’ section, and some observations
about the tides in the area which is essential
in my view.
Another excellent addition is the
BSAC Divers Code of Conduct, given
the problems divers are having around
Loch Fyne and elsewhere it is a timely
reminder that if we want to enjoy access
to dive sites we have to behave accordingly.
Dive number one is indoors, yes
indoors and not a swimming pool. It
is Deep Sea World, like all the dives
Mike gives essential information name,
location, depth, conditions, access, diver
experience and then details of what to
expect. This is where the book comes
alive. Even in Deep Sea World he provides
the reader with plenty of interesting
background information.
For instance I was not aware they no
longer kept congers as their life cycle
requires them to spawn in the Sargasso
Sea and when that time comes they get
agitated and will die if they can’t make
that final journey. That is research above
and beyond the call but it is what sets
this dive guide apart.
Every dive in the book gets the full
treatment; if it’s a wreck you can be sure
you will get the history, how it went
down and if appropriate - why. Plus all
the details you expect about how to do
the dive. Some dive guides take a scatter
gun approach and cram in as many dives
as possible with little information, just
some co-ordinates which often turn out
to be inaccurate.
Others choose just a few, normally
wrecks and tell their full story. This
guide has struck the right balance of how
to dive the site with enough background
information to be both informative and
Some of the dives like the SS Exmouth
will, for me anyway, be an armchair dive.
Mike has done it for me, his description of
the wreck and his dives on it are as close
as I need to get. However there are many
dives in this guide that have my juices
flowing and I fully intend to be visiting as
many of them as I can over the next couple
of years.
Indeed one of the criteria I use to judge a
dive guide is, does it make me want to go
out and do the dives? The answer in this
case is, yes. Not just because of the descriptions
but also the photographs which
are of the highest standard as you would
expect from Mike.
It’s not often a dive guide is both useful
and entertaining but in this case Mike
has put his heart and soul into it and has
raised it from just a dive guide to another
level. Like all the members of Conger Alley
who have written their own reviews I
would like to join them in recommending
this book to anyone who is thinking about
diving the Wrecks and Reefs of Southeast
Wrecks & Reefs of Southeast Scotland
Mike Clark
Whittles Publishing
ISBN 978-1-84995-010-7
Jack Morrison reviews regular
SCOTTISH DIVER contributor, Mike
Clark’s new dive guide - Wrecks &
Reefs of Southeast Scotland ...
Mike is passionate about
his diving and
photography and it is
obvious, that this project
has been a labour of love.

A Totaly Relaxing Time in Birmingham at Dive 2010.

This is an account of my experience at Dive 2010. It certainly was not relaxing!
This was a first for me; I had never been
to a really big dive show before. So I
was excited as I drove down the road
with three friends (Gordon, Charlie and
Stevie) heading for the Birmingham
NEC. Past experiences let me imagine
what I would experience. I had attended
both the Scottish Dive Shows at the SSEC
in Glasgow but these were described as
small shows in diving circles, although
they had appeared big enough for me at
the time.
I would be personally involved in this
show however, as I was giving a presentation
about how I put together my new
book, Wrecks and Reefs of Southeast
Scotland and the fantastic diving which
is experienced there. (Thanks to all who
bought a copy at the NEC and the Scot-
SAC. conference).
To help me do this I drew on experience
from previously giving talks most
notably at the 2009 ScotSAC conference
when I talked in front of over 200 people,
(and a baby heckler) which was fun.
Maximum numbers for the talk at the
NEC would be 80 people. (I would turn
out to be lucky getting a full house on
both days).
So on the Friday before the show Stevie
piloted us smoothly south down the M6.
We relaxed and wondered if we could
actually manage to pass a service station.
Charlie ‘Crusher’ developed a stomach
problem, requiring frequent stops. Darkness
had fallen as we neared Birmingham
and we ran into jams as commuter
traffic headed home.
We decided to save some time and
pay to use the toll road which was a
good idea. Stevie was doing a great job
driving, Charlie was doing a great job
holding on and Gordon was doing a
great job managing his IT systems via
his Blackberry (Whatever that does)? I
was just starting to do a good job dozing
when we arrived at the NEC.
Stevie parked the car in a free space
and a recovering Charlie saved the day
by warning me as I exited the car ‘watch
the hole!’ Unfortunately, I was still
groggy from my attempted dozing and
didn’t understand what he was on about
until I had almost fallen down the 8 foot
drop just off the edge of the road.
So we had made it, just the security
guard to get past - no problem-tickets in
Then light and sound, as the vast hall,
empty of most people but full of stands
in various states of assembly. Straight
away I bumped into Mark Lawrence of
Lochaline Dive Centre - ‘Scots on tour.
After finding out where I was to place
myself in the morning and dispensing a
few posters we retired to our accommodation
five minutes drive away and had
a cracking meal before turning in.
At 8.30 the next morning we were getting
the run-around from one parking
attendant to another which was frustrating
and not even the cheerful Brummie
accent humoured us as we eventually got
to where we needed to be. The hall was
now electric, the stands were all assembled
and you could feel the tension as the
exhibitor’s awaited opening time and the
beginning of the show.
I turned up at the Diver magazine
stand and introduced myself. “I’m the
bloke doing the book signing here”. I
must admit the blank expression in the
girl’s eyes could not fail to let me know
she knew absolutely nothing about me
being there. They soon cleared as she
sent me off to find a Dorothy. Anyway
they soon got it sorted out and before I
knew it, it was almost time for my first
This went very well with almost
absolutely no IT issues. After that and a
brief couple of book signing sessions, I
eventually got to have a wee look around
the show for myself and I tried to track
down people who I had worked with or
had received help from over the years.
I soon found Matt Sydenham at the
Suunto stand who was a great help
when I reviewed the Suunto HelO2 Dive

Computer, later I tracked down Geoff
Sharples of Sea and Sea who had helped
me with a few underwater photography
issues over the years. Mark Evans, editor
of Sport Diver would remain elusive
until the following day.
However, most thanks went to Stevie,
Charlie and Gordon who kept my spirits
up when interest in the book was slow.
Being at the Diver Stand I did bump into
a few celebrities though. Firstly Paul
Rose of BBC Oceans Fame. Both being
authors we thought it would be great to
swap books. I’m sure I’m going to get
my copy soon, you know he is a busy
guy, probably away in the Arctic or in
the Maldives diving with Manta Rays.
Anyway he was a real gent and I expect
his book will be arriving any day soon.
Then I met the lovely shark activist,
film maker and bikini swimwear model
Lesley Rochat.
Now some people may think from the
picture that I have lost all control of my
face and am actually smiling my head
off. This is not the case I am merely

Anyway first day over, book sales into
double figures (two counts as a double
figure?), talk went fine, met some good
friends, and finished off the long hard
day with a couple of beers at the after
show party. Now we planned to get off
for a cleanup and evening meal but first
I had to get past a security guard who
would not let me leave the bar area until
I finished my beer! Jolly dam decent of
him if you ask me but I later found out
that it was because of the glass bottle I
was drinking from rather than the beer
itself. Being a good law abiding citizen I
got rid of the beer ASAP!

Massive excitement was to follow;
Stevie piloted us effortlessly around Birmingham
by the scenic route before we
arrived at the Indian curry house 40 odd
minutes later. Curry in Birmingham this
was going to be great!
Now it was nothing to do with the two
beers I had gulped down earlier. It was
just really bad luck that I put my hand
on the door frame just as Charlie shut the
door. Simple thing to do.
“Charlie open your door”
“Charlie open ...”
And he did which was good of him and
it was good of me to use absolutely no
expletives at all. Now you know why
I call him Crusher. At this point I must
recommend the Citroen C5. If you have
to get your fingers caught in the door of
a car this one does allow you to have full
use of your fingers after the event, which

is nice.
Afterwards, once they knew I was ok
my mates consoled me no end by pissing
themselves over and over and over again
about the incident. Yeah, yeah it was
really funny!
The curry was great and the ice reduced
the swelling. I was still fairly sure
I would be able to fulfil my book signing
obligations the following day!
Second day of the show! Stevie effortlessly
parked in the right place, no bother
with parking attendants. I got to the
Diver stand and they recognised me. It
was going well!
Then it was the long walk across the
hall to room 19 for my talk. The room
was full to bursting, the crowd was
cheering, I walked up to the mic and
shouted “Good morning Birmingham”
upon which the projector stopped working
and the screen went blank. Supper
Sandy of Musselburgh SAC (SSAC
Conference Fame) offered to get help but
I wasn’t giving him a chance to leave his
seat. To cut a long story short the NEC
staff sorted the problem quite quickly but
this palaver wasn’t helping my nerves!
I was now 10 minutes behind schedule
and sweating harder than a Thunderbird
puppet under pressure. However I was
quickly into my intro and in no time the
talk was over, the lights were dimmed
and my video presentation began with
the trademark music thumping out. I
settled back to enjoy the action.
Mistake! I felt a tap on my shoulder
and a voice whispered: “It’s my turn to
get into the room”. This was the bloke
who shall remain nameless who was
due to get into the room after my show
had finished. I tried to explain about
the IT issues and lack of support but he
wasn’t listening so I had to ask him to
step outside, so that he didn’t disturb the
Once out into the bright lights of the
corridor I noted it was 11.55 still 5 mins
before the end time for my show and 20
mins before the start of his show (In fact
he was doing two talks in succession so
the plonker had 30 free minutes to play
Now I had sore fingers, was perspiring
heavily having been trying to do stand
up comedy to keep the audience entertained
until the projector got fixed. So I
asked the guy to be patient and advised
him it was still 20 mins to the start of his
The hall was now electric,
the stands were all
assembled and you could
feel the tension as the
exhibitor’s awaited
opening time and the
beginning of the show ...
show. It only takes 30 seconds to plug a
laptop in, (unless you are me that is!).
Disappointingly I missed the last of my
show on the big screen, getting back into
the room just before the finish. After that
I was buoyed up again by meeting some
ScotSAC guys from Musselburgh and
East Lothian branches who had flown
down to Birmingham.
Then I was free to wander and I visited
a few friends who had stands. I went
to have a look at the British Society of
Underwater Photographers (BSOUP) who
had a great stand, I looked enviously at
the camera stands and then I went on the
hunt and eventually found Sport Diver
Editor Mark Evans.
Then unexpectedly I bumped into Asim
of Amphora Diving who I dived with in
North Cyprus some 8 Years ago. It was
great seeing him again. I also caught up
with John Perrin of Kent tool reel fame
and all the dive shop owners, Otter Watersports,
Robin Hood, SDS, and Northern
Diver etc. I think it was only Ryan of
Vandergraph, who was deep in conversation,
that I didn’t get a chat with.
Then alas it was time to bid farewell
to the NEC and Dive 2010. We needed
to hit the M6 North before the big rush
started unlike the flash guys from Scot-
SAC who were flying back. Thankfully
I believe we only stopped twice on the
way back up the road. Normal service
had been resumed to Charlie’s plumbing.
The following day on surviving the call
of the alarm clock, I may have stated “Oh
dear I’m rather tired this morning”. To
which my wife responded “but you have
just been away with the boy’s all weekend,
relaxing and enjoying yourself”.
Enjoyment yes, relaxing no, everybody’s
a comedian.