Since its initial publication in 1990, "Dive Scapa Flow" by Rod Macdonald has been THE definitive guide to diving Scapa Flow in Orkney. Even the best can be improved upon, however, and with the approach of the centenary of the event that made Scapa Flow one of the world's greatest wreck diving locations, what we have here is a completely re-written and updated edition.
On 21 June 1919, the crews of 74 ships of the German High Seas Fleet, interned in Scapa Flow since the armistice at the end of the First World War, opened the seacocks on their vessels and scuttled them to stop them falling into the hands of the Royal Navy. This has been described as "the greatest act of maritime suicide the world has ever seen", at least as far as the ships were concerned: thankfully most of the members of the crews survived. Many of these ships were raised for scrap in the 1920s, but some remained where they lay. Over time they were joined by other wrecks: by blockships deliberately sunk to block passages between islands, by the wrecks of Royal Navy battleships HMS Royal Oak (sunk by a German U-Boat in World War Two) and HMS Vanguard (destroyed in what was probably an accident), and by other ships that met their end in or around what is one of the world's great natural harbours. It comes as no surprise to find that divers come from all over the world to explore some of the wrecks here (others are designated as war graves) and that diving forms the basis of an important part of the local economy.
"Dive Scapa Flow" by Rod Macdonald is a superb book. It looks at each group of wrecks in Scapa Flow: the German warships and the blockships, for example, and covers in detail many of the individual vessels or groups of blockships. The text is sufficiently detailed to be considered an "everything you ever wanted to know about...", and this is supported by excellent illustrations. Some are black and white period photographs, or modern colour dive pictures. Many, however, are beautiful, and poignant, drawings, often based on modern scanning techniques, of the vessels as they now lie on the seabed. The war graves of Scapa Flow are also covered for completeness, though diving to them only takes place with special (and rarely granted) permission.
This book is required reading for anyone interested in diving, or in Orkney (or both), and guarantees that the definitive guide to diving Scapa Flow will remain exactly that for many years to come.