Introduction

Wight Spirit Diving Charters, operating from the western Solent port of Lymington, offers some of the best south coast diving.  We provide dive sites to suit all tastes, from scenic drift dives to many wrecks, whether shallow, intermediate or deep, and from warships to tramp steamers, motor ships to sailing ships, and pretty much everything in between.  The shallowest wreck is in 5 metres, and the deepest is in 95 metres, with a huge selection of seldom dived wrecks in the 30 to 50 metres range.  See the ‘Wrecks’ page for full details – and don’t forget to buy your copy of South Coast Shipwrecks off East Dorset & Wight 1870-1979. If you’re living or staying on the Isle of Wight – I pick up and drop off at Yarmouth at no extra charge.

Isle of Wight diving is popular, and frequently visited sites include the steamer Spyros in 31 metres, the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres, and the armed steam trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres, all largely intact wrecks, to mention just three.  If you want something shallower, the schooner Fenna lies in 23 metres, the stern section of the Serrana is in 18-20 metres and the Betsy Anna is in 27 metres.  Particularly good wrecks in the 40 metre range include the steamers Tweed, Iduna, Clarinda, all in 40 metres maximum, or the Daylesford in 46 metres. Venturing further offshore to mid Channel, where underwater visibility has exceeded 30 metres on occasions, we’ll take you to wrecks such as the motor vessel Guernsey Coast, upright and intact, standing 13 metres in 62 metres, or the German light cruiser Nurnberg, a very substantial wreck standing 12 metres in 62 metres.  Or visit the 19th century wreck of the clipper ship Smyrna, between 53 and 57 metres, a particular favourite of mine.  Then there’s numerous other wrecks seldom visited and well worth diving.  Popular second dives on wrecks include the steamer War Knight in 13 metres and the steamer Joannis Millas in 6-8 metres, both diveable out of the tide.  If you like scenic reef and drift dives, Christchurch Ledge is a good choice, abounding in life, or Brook and Atherfield Ledges and rocks, ledges and reefs at Rocken End, the locations for numerous wrecks from the days of sail.  Indeed, this part of the Isle of Wight coast was once known as the Receiver General for wrecks of the Isle of Wight.  Drifting at the foot of Tennyson Down provides rocks, gullies, pinnacles and overhangs, and to add to the mystery there’s a chance you’ll drift across the remains of Whitehead torpedoes from the torpedo testing which took place here.

Underwater visibility is variable just as it is elsewhere, but from May to October during settled weather and good tides, inshore visibility of 5 to 8 metres is usual.  Offshore, 10 to 20 metres can be expected, though of course sometimes the visibilty is better than this, and sometimes not quite as good.  Although the plankton bloom arrives in late May, it is seldom as bad as further west.

Our season runs from April through to about mid January, though from late October onwards we need to go offshore for clearer water, taking advantage of the days when tides and weather are most favourable.  That’s also true for April except on exceptionally good neap tides – and typically this means diving wrecks in 40 metres, with limited options for second dives close inshore due to visibility. The inshore water clears in the first week of May, when so-called black water arrives from the west – called black because overnight the water colour changes from green to having a black appearance because it is so clear.

You’ll find plenty of parking very close to the pontoons where you’re picked up, and you’ll be greeted with tea and coffee on arrival.  A general and safety briefing is given after you’ve boarded and assembled your gear, before departure to the dive site.  For sheer variety of dive sites and some spectacular scenery of the west and southern Isle of Wight coasts,  Wight Spirit Diving Charters offers something for everyone in what is probably the least dived part of the English Channel.

Feel free to contact me for a chat or more information – landline/home: 02380 270 390 (ansaphone – if I’m not there, leave a message and I’ll call you back).  Mobile:  07833 610623 or e-mail wightspirit@btinternet.com

News, reports and forthcoming diving 2018

Normally, the boat will be on the pontoon at least 30 minutes before we are due to depart. This gives enough time for you to load your gear on the boat, park the car, assemble your kit, have a cup of tea, get an ice-cream, go through the briefing and then get going. I like to arrive on site 15-30 minutes before slack. This gives you plenty of time to prepare for the dive and allows me plenty of time to place the shot on the wreck. Details of news, reports and forthcoming dives will appear here in due course.

Dive and vis reports 2018.  Early season:

 

After her winter refit, Wight Spirit began the season on Sunday 8 April. We headed out to dive the 1872 wreck of the steamer Lapwing in 40 metres.  Despite being a grey day, the dive was good – dark below 15 metres but vis was around 3 metres with a torch. Divers remarked on the profusion of shellfish on the wreck.

We lost the weekend of Saturday 14 April to thick fog – couldn’t see across the harbour so there was no point in trying to get out. Next day, the forecast was bad due to strong winds – but in the event, that came to nothing and we could have got out after all.

Monday 23 April, when we were due to dive around the east of the Isle of Wight, was also cancelled due to strong winds and the added complication of virtually no vis close inshore, following prolonged and very heavy rain, which produced a muddy run-off.  Things had improved dramatically by Saturday 28 April, when we dived the WW1 mine carrier Eleanor in 38 metres.  It’s a good sign that in April there was ambient light and vis of 5-6 metres despite the grey skies above. Water temperature is lower than normal at about 9 degrees. We lost Sunday 29 April due to a return of the Beast from the East – well, strong north-easterly winds, anyway.

Forthcoming dive spaces:  There are spaces available on Saturday 12 May to dive the armed trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres – contact me for details please.  There are also spaces to dive the WW1 steamer Mendi in 40 metres on Wednesday 27 June.  Again, names to me please.  Second dive is included for those who want it.

Dive/vis reports:  Fabulous weekend’s diving over the early BH of Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 May. First, we steamed south-east of the Needles to dive the WW1 Danish steamer Inger in 55 metres. Flat calm sea, bright sunshine, and 8 -10 metres vis in ambient light. Next day we visited the steamer Daylesford in 46 metres, again with a flat calm sea and bright sunshine.  Divers reported seeing the top of the engine at 30 metres depth, with horizontal vis in excess of 10 metres.

Forthcoming dive spaces: 

Saturday 12 May, diving the WW2 armed trawler Warwick Deeping. 36 metres to the seabed.  Meet 1245 to leave 1315. Names to me please.
Sunday 20 May is unbooked at the moment – is there a group who wants to take spaces? Contact me please.
BH Monday 28 May, diving the WW2 American tanker Y48. 58 metres to the seabed, wreck stands up 9 metres. One dive. Meet 0715 to leave 0745. **
Friday 1 June, diving the WW1 steamer Wyndhurst in 55 metres. One dive. Meet 0845 to leave 0915. **
Saturday 9 June, diving the 19th century steamer Snowdrop in 58 metres. One dive.  Meet 0945 to leave 1015. **
Sunday 17 June is also unbooked – anyone interested?  Contact me please.
Friday 22 June, diving the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres. One dive. Meet 0930 to leave at 10. **
Saturday 23 June, diving the windjammer Eugene Schneider in 65 metres. One dive. Meet 0930 to leave at 10. **
Sunday 24 June, diving the 19th century steamer Saxmundham in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 1115 to leave 1145. **
Wednesday 27 June, diving the WW1 troopship Mendi in 40 metres.  Meet 0830 to leave 0900.  Contact me please.
Saturday 30 June, diving the WW1 steamer Luxor in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 0930 to leave at 10. **
Monday 2 July, diving the steamer Penmarch in 36 metres. One dive. Meet 1045 to leave 1115. Contact me please.
Tuesday 3 July, diving the 19th century steamer Grip Fast in about 22 metres. One dive. Meet 1130 to leave 1200. Contact me please.
Wednesday 4 July, diving an unidentified steamer in 38 metres. One dive. Meet 1230 to leave 1300. Contact me please.

Thursday 5 July, diving the WW1 steamer Vikholmen in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 0630 for a quick getaway at 0645. Contact me please.

Friday 6 July, diving the WW2 motor vessel Dallas City in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 0700 to leave 0730. Contact me please.
Monday 9 July, diving the steamer El Kahira in 60 metres. One dive. Meet at 10 for 1030 leave. **
Sunday 22 July, diving the WW1 steamer Sphene in 65 metres. One dive. Meet 0900 to leave 0930. **
Sunday 12 August, diving the WW1 steamer Bishopston in 60 metres. One dive.  Meet 0715 to leave 0745. **
Monday 20 August, diving the WW2 liner Meknes in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 0815 to leave 0845. **
BH Monday 27 August,  diving the steamer Monton in 60 metres. One dive. Meet 0830 to leave 0900. **
All those dives marked ** please contact the organiser direct, Jay, on depth.hound@googlemail.com
Dive/vis reports:  On Thursday 10 and Friday 11 May, diving with marine archaeologists at Bouldnor cliff, a site of human habitation 8500 years old.  Many worked flints were recovered as well as examples of worked timbers, showing there was a settlement of some sort here. Vis was variable according to the tide, but all work was successfully completed.  On Saturday 12 May we dived the WW2 armed trawler Warwick Deeping. A gloomy, grey day, and we were on LW slack off St Catherine’s Point, but still had vis of 3 metres. Next day we headed further south east to dive the WW1 steamer Tweed. Seemingly from nowhere, a thick plankton bloom was present, from the surface to the seabed. Though this reduced vis considerably, the good news is that the water seems free of silt and sediment so when the plankton dies vis there should be a significant improve in water clarity.
Dive/vis reports:  Saturday 19 May – due to dive the U-90 – no wind, bright sunshine and flat calm sea. What could go wrong?  On reaching the Needles it looked like someone had poured a huge quantity of dry ice on Tennyson Down – thick fog cascaded down the cliff, obscuring Alum Bay and reducing visibility to less than 100 yards.  Couldn’t see the lighthouse when close to.  Rounded the Needles and headed south east, but the fog was persistently thick and the only course of action was to abort the dive. Similar situation on Sunday, but the good news is that the plankton is dying off and forming a surface scum. As a result, water clarity should improve.
Dive/vis reports:  Saturday 26 May was blown out due to strong ENE winds but Sunday 27 May was a lovely day – flat sea, no wind and sunny. We dived the Norwegian steamer Aalesund off St Catherine’s Point. Strangely there was current throughout the slack water period but everyone managed the dive OK. Plankton is still present and this reduced vis to 3-4 metres, though there was ambient light, and the water is free of silt. As soon as the plankton dies back vis should be excellent. Next day we steamed mid Channel to dive the WW2 American tanker Y48. Passing south of 50 degrees 22′ north, vis improved very much. We had another glorious day, sunny, no wind and flat sea. Vis was easily 8-10 metres, there being less density of plankton in this location. The wreck remains a substantial one, standing upright about 7 metres high.
Dive spaces:  There are 3 spaces available to dive the sailing ship Simla in 40 metres, on Saturday 2 June. Meet 1030. First come first served. If interested, contact Tony on fatboydiving@aol.com
Dive/vis reports:  Friday 1 June looked so promising, as we were heading mid-Channel, but the wind was forecast to increase to W5-6 about the time of slack water. This would have been too much, so we were blown out. On Saturday 2 June, the weather was glorious – wall to wall sunshine, no wind, flat calm.  All went well until we reached the Needles, when we were enveloped in thick fog. Expecting to stream through it towards St Catherine’s, where we intended to dive the Simla, the dense fog persisted and with visibility down to 100 yards it wasn’t safe to continue, and we bailed out. Sunday 3 June was again warm, sunny and calm, and this time, no fog!  We dived the WW1 steamer Borgny. Plankton is still present, unusual for the time of year off the Island, but vis was 3-4 metres in ambient light. We followed this with a drift over Christchurch Ledge on the ebb tide. Vis was a bit lower but plenty of life was seen.  On Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 June we’re diving Bouldnor Cliff in the Solent, just to the east of Yarmouth.
Dive Spaces:  Wednesday 27 June – there are spaces to dive the WW1 wreck of the Mendi in 40 metres. Contact me please for details.
Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 9 June we steamed to the south west, mid Channel, to dive the small Victorian steamer Snowdrop in 57 metres. Despite the adverse forecast, winds didn’t exceed a force 3 though it was overcast. The plankton has largely dispersed and disappeared. Water temperature has been slow to rise but offshore it is hovering around 12/13 degrees. Horizontal vis on the wreck in ambient light was at least 20 metres and one of the divers reported seeing the surface from a depth of 30 metres – and all this in a wreck in 57 metres. A fabulous dive with masses of life on the wreck! Next day, Sunday 10 June, we headed south to dive another Victorian steamer, the Messina, in 50 metres. Vis had reduced slightly to a very acceptable 15 metres, and again the wind forecast failed to materialise with nothing more than a force 3. A great weekend.
Dive/vis reports:  The weekend of 16 and 17 June was blown out but then the weather settled down. On Friday 22 June we dived the clipper ship Smyrna in great vis – around 12 metres. Bright sunshine, flat seas and no wind…Next day we steamed mid Channel to dive the windjammer Eugene Schneider in similar conditions, though divers reported the water being slightly misty at 65 metres, but still plenty good enough to dive in ambient light. Finally, on Sunday 24 June, we dived the 1888 wreck of the steamer Saxmundham in 60 metres, with vis again of 10-12 metres in ambient light. Water temperature is now around 13/14 degrees. Inshore, vis looks pretty good too.
Dive/vis reports:  On Wednesday 27 June we dived the WW1 troopship Mendi in fine conditions, though the easterly swell made things somewhat uncomfortable. Vis was pretty good at 6-8 metres in ambient light. This was followed by a second dive on the War Knight. As expected, vis wasn’t so good, as this is a wreck close inshore, but vis was 2-3 metres.  We were blown out on Saturday 30 June but the wind eased and we had a good day on Sunday 1 July, diving the War Knight again as the main dive.  Vis wasn’t so good, at only a metre or metre and a half, but the compensation for this was that we were joined on site by a lone adult dolphin which was nosing around the pot markers and buoys close to the wreck. For a second dive we had a look at the rarely dived steamer Joannis Millas, where vis was very much better.  We were blown out again by these rather persistent east to north-east winds on Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 July, but once again, the wind eased for our dive on Wednesday 4 July. We dived the unknown wreck thought to be the Hazelwood. Despite bright sunshine, calm sea and excellent vis of around 8 metres, we are no nearer proving the identity of this wreck. On Thursday 5 July, we head south intending to dive a mid Channel wreck. Leaving the pontoon in bright sunshine, we headed past the Needles and then south. The further we steamed towards mid Channel, the worse the surface visibility as thick fog closed in. Eventually, with another 14 miles still to run, the visibility was too bad to continue, so we headed north west to get clear of it. Back in the sunshine again, we dived the WW1 steam drifter John Mitchell. Vis is improving as the neap tide comes on, and we had 10-12 metres, with water temperature now up around 15 degrees.
On Friday 6 July, the surface visibility was much better and we were able to dive the mid Channel wreck of the Dallas City, bombed in 1940. Water clarity was great at 15 metres, with ambient light. This is a large wreck and everything on it is also large – steering quadrant, propeller and anchor winch – they are all enormous. A great dive. On Saturday 7 July we steamed south of Bournemouth to dive the sailing ship Waitara. With visibility still around 12-15 metres, also in ambient light at 60 metres, this was  another great dive.  We ended the diving on Monday 9 July, diving the steamer El Kahira in 60 metres. As the slack water was later, water conditions weren’t quite so light, with visibility assessed at 10-12 metres, but still in ambient light. On all these recent dives, some good photos and video footage was obtained.
Dive spaces:  There are spaces to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres on Thursday 26 July. Meet 0730 to leave 0800. £62 per head. Names to me please.
Dive/vis reports: The great summer weather continues. On Saturday 14 July we dived the WW1 mine carrier Eleanor. Surface conditions were perfect – bright sunshine, flat sea and no wind. Vis was about 3-4 metres, not bad considering we’re on top of a big spring tide, which has badly affected visibility close inshore. There was a bonus – another dolphin sighting in the western Solent.  Sea temperature is now up around 15-16 degrees. On Monday 16 July we ventured west to Boscombe, intending to set up a photography project. Close inshore here, out of the tide, vis was pretty good and the project was successfully concluded.
Dive/vis reports:  On Thursday 19 and Friday 20 July, we were continuing to survey the submerged Bouldnor Cliff near Yarmouth with marine archaeologists. Vis was variable, as expected, but 3-4 metres was perfectly good enough to work in. Water temperature is now a balmy 21 degrees!  And with warm sunshine and no wind, it was a good two days. On the weekend of Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July, we ventured mid Channel, diving the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Kong Guttorm in 55 metres. In another warm, sunny day and calm sea, vis on the wreck in ambient light was around 15 metres. Next day we headed further south to the WW1 steamer Sphene in 65-68 metres. Similar sea and weather condition prevailed, and vis was even better at 15-20 metres, noted as being one of the best dives of the season so far.
On Monday 23 July, doing an evening trip, we went for a drift across Christchurch Ledge with some new, young members, some of who were on their first boat dive. Despite the glorious weather, sea conditions were a bit lumpy on the ledge, but nonetheless, this was a good introduction to UK diving in vis of 3-4 metres.  On Thursday 26 July, with the calm weather continuing, we ventured south to the wreck of the Smyrna in 55 metres. No wind, bright sunshine and clear water – what more do you want?  Oh, and the vis was a fantastic 20 metres plus in ambient light, a wonderful dive. To end the week on Friday 27 July, with members of SeaSearch, we dived off Yaverland and Bembridge on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight. These were inshore dives looking for evidence of specific forms of marine life. Vis was about 3 metres but the water temperature is around 21 degrees, pretty warm by UK standards.  The weekend of Saturday 28 and 29 July was blown out by gales – there had to be a break in this summer sometime…Monday 30 July has also been blown out.
Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 4 August, in warm, sunny and calm conditions, we dived Christchurch Ledge as a drift dive in vis of about 3 metres and water temperature of a balmy 21 degrees.  We then dived the afternoon slack on the WW1 steamer Venezuela, where vis was better at 6-8 metres amid ambient light. Lots of life on this wreck!  Next day on Sunday 5 August we had an early start and steamed to the south-west to dive the 1874 wreck of the steamer Vera in 46 metres.  Another warm, sunny day, but with a light easterly breeze which made things slightly bumpy, not at all what we’ve been used to!  Vis was easily 10 metres and then back to the pub for an afternoon pint.
Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 11 August, the day started bright and sunny with no wind, but became very overcast for the main dive on the steamer Tweed off St Catherine’s. Bring the sunshine back! Although there was ambient light on the wreck, the big tides produced a lot of particles in the water, reducing the vis to about 2 metres, disappointing considering the recent good neap. Ironically, a second dive on the War Knight, not renowned for great vis, had better conditions, with vis of about 3 metres. Sunday 12th was due to be a mid Channel dive, but the forecast wasn’t good enough to venture offshore, and we were blown out.
Dive/vis reports:
The weekend of Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 August was looking dodgy due to strong winds, but we tried on Saturday. Sea state was worse than expected and despite trying to find more sheltered waters we ended up aborting the day, and cancelled Sunday too. Monday 20 August – and the wind has gone. We headed quite a long way to the south-west to dive the WW2 French liner Meknes.  Vis was around 10 metres though with an overcast sky and thick fog, conditions on the wreck were dark. This dive was followed by an evening trip on the WW1 wreck of the steamer Serrana in the Needles channel. The sea state was a little uncomfortable but everyone completed the dive with vis of around 4 metres in ambient light. On Tuesday 21 August we steamed south-east of the Needles to dive the 1854 wreck of the early steamer Faith. Vis was good for this part of St Catherine’s at 3-5 metres, and work on mapping the site is pretty much concluded. Since there is almost no information on the type of engine on the wreck, numerous images were taken in order to construct a 3D model of the wreck using photogrammetry.  Finally, on Wednesday 22 August, we dived Bouldnor Cliff with a film crew who are making a documentary of the formation of the English Channel and associated channels. Due to a long term commitment, we were not due to dive over the BH weekend of 25/26 August, which was just as well as the weather, particularly on Sunday, was very wet and windy.  Conditions didn’t settle for BH Monday and that planned dive was cancelled.  By Tuesday 28 August, the weather had settled again and we steamed south-east of St Catherine’s  to dive the German U-boat, U-90. This is a great dive on a virtually intact submarine which has masses of conger in every hole.  Vis was around 4 metres with a torch, but the recent strong winds had stirred things up a little, and it was dark below 20 metres.
Dive/vis reports:  Early September kicked off on a good neap tide, so we decided to look at some unidentified wrecks to see if we could put a name to them. On Monday 3 September, in good weather, we found the vis OK but not great at 4-5 metres. One of the offshore wrecks turned out to be a concrete Mulberry pontoon bridge wreck – very unexciting but it puts to bed another unknown which had to be dived to check. Vis was much better at 10 metres plus. Inshore again on Wednesday 5 September, where vis has improved considerably at around 8 metres. Didn’t manage to identify the wreck so it’s another one to go back to. On Thursday 6 September we returned to another unknown and failed again to see anything which might identify it. A gun pedestal was thought to have been spotted beneath debris which, if correct, means the wreck is almost certainly a victim of WW1.  An overcast day but vis has held up well to around 10 metres.  On Saturday 8 September we headed off St Catherine’s Point to dive the WW1 steamer Fallodon. Vis south-east of the Needles looked great on the flood tide, but as expected, this deteriorated slightly the further east we went. Despite this, and the overcast sky, vis with a torch was 3-4 metres.  Sunday 9 September was blown out.
On Saturday 15 September, we steamed south to dive the wreck of the Dallas City bombed in 1940. A bright, sunny day, we were diving the late slack around 3.15, which meant conditions on the wreck were a bit dark, but vis was OK at 5 or 6 metres with a torch – not good for this part of the Channel, but as we’ve just come off big springs it wasn’t unexpected.
I now have the 2019 Admiralty tide tables for anyone interested in bookings for next season.

 

 

News, reports and forthcoming diving, 2019

Diving 2019

The season got off to an unfriendly start in April – easterly winds blew out every dive!  However, May has seen the weather improve and we’re off!

We started the season with Seasearch on Sunday 5 May, diving in shallow water in Freshwater Bay. Plankton extended from the surface to the seabed which reduced visibility. We followed this with a drift dive across Christchurch Ledge, where the water was clearer and there was more light penetrating. We lost Saturday 4 and Monday 6 May to strong winds, but had a great dive on the Myrtlegrove on Sunday 12 May, with ambient light on the wreck and 5-6 metres vis. The top 6 metres has a lot of plankton but below that the water is clear. Water temperature is around 11°. On Friday 17th May, a Seasearch booking found us diving Utopia Reef to the east of the Isle of Wight, where there is a profusion of life – sponges, weeds etc. We followed this dive with a drift past Culver Cliff, where visibility was better at about 2 metres. Not great, but it is early season, and we were close inshore…

On Saturday 18 May we steamed to the south-east to dive the WW2 wreck of the steamer Terlings. A lovely flat calm day, no wind, and vis of 5-6 metres in ambient light. There’s still plankton in the upper 6 metres but the dive was done without the need for torches. Next day, Sunday 19 May, the weather being calm, we ventured south to mid Channel to dive the clipper ship Smyrna. Although there is still some plankton in the upper few metres, it wasn’t much and vis on the wreck, in ambient light, was around 10 metres.

 

Diving Reports from 2017

Dive and vis reports 2017.  Early season: Well, the good news is that the boat has new machinery but we weren’t quite ready for the start of the season, and the vis has been good, arriving on schedule. However, we did start off on Saturday 22 April with a stunning dive on the wreck of the Messina in 50 metres. Vis was crystal clear at 15 metres +, no torch necessary. Conditions were perfect – no wind, bright, clear sky, flat sea. Next day we ventured south to dive the Norwegian steamer Kong Guttorm in 55 metres and had similar conditions. On Monday 24 April, operating from Southsea, we dived the protected, historic wreck of HMS Invincible, lost in 1759. Work was commenced in preparation for full scale excavation later in the year.

On the weekend on 6/7 May, we lost the 6th to strong wind but on the 7th we dived the Clan Macvey in 20 metres. Although the day was overcast and somewhat gloomy, vis was not bad at 3-4 metres. This was followed by a drift dive across Christchurch Ledge.

The weekend of 13/14 May was blown out – we were due to dive off St Catherine’s Point and conditions were too lively.

On Saturday 20 May the forecast was ‘do-able’ but on the morning the forecast had worsened. We were unable to get outside the Needles, or even in the Needles Channel to dive the Serrana, so had to settle for the wreck of the Margaret Smith off Yarmouth. Visibility wasn’t great as we’d had a great deal of rain in the days preceding, but it was adequate at 2-3 metres. A second dive was along Bouldnor Cliff, a submerged site of human habitation in 10 metres of water. On Sunday 21 May the wind had died away and the sky was clear, bright and sunny. We steamed to the south west and dived the WW1 wreck of the steamer Norma in 55 metres. Vis was again excellent at 15 metres, with torches not required. On Monday 22 May, operating again from Southsea, we continued with preparatory work for excavations on HMS Invincible. Vis was quite good at 4-5 metres. Water temperature hovering around degrees.

Dive spaces:  There are dive spaces as follows: 

Friday 2 June, diving the WW1 steamer Finn in 60 metres.

Saturday 24 June, diving the WW1 steamer Inger in 55 metres.

Saturday 8 July, diving the WW1 steamer Bishopston in 58 metres.

Sunday 13 August, diving the steamer Iduna in 38 metres.

Mon 28 August, diving the WW1 steamer Britannia in 38 metres.

Thurs 31 August, diving the MV Guernsey Coast in 60 metres.

Fri 15 September, diving the WW1 steamer Vikholmen in 60 metres.

For all these dives, contact Jay on depth.hound@googlemail.com

More dive spaces: On Friday 23 June we’ll be diving a maximum depth of 35 metres, the wreck being one of the following:  Braedale, Borgny, Witte Zee, Spyros, Warwick Deeping. Second dive will be a shallow wreck or drift.  Meet at 0800 to leave 0830. £45 per head. Names to me please.

Dive spaces: Friday 23 June has just 2 spaces remaining.

Dive spaces update:  Friday 23 June is now full. Friday 2 June has 2 spaces remaining. Saturday 24 June is now full. Sunday 13 August is now full. Monday 28 August is now full.

Dive and vis reports: Taking advantage of the neap tides, on Friday 2 June we steamed south west and dived the Norwegian steamer Finn in 60 metres. Though the sky was somewhat overcast, vis was about 10 metres without a torch. This 3800 ton wreck, lying on its side but with the hull hanging down, at first gives  the impression it’s upside down. An impressive wreck, still standing about 9 metres, was full of shellfish though the wreck has much lost commercial fishing gear snagged on it. Next day, Saturday 3 June,  we again steamed south west and dived what is thought to be the SS Ohio lost in collision in 1918. Sea conditions weren’t ideal but the journey was worth it with visibility an excellent 15 metres plus, no torch needed. Water temperature is around 13 degrees offshore. On Sunday 4 June, despite a favourable forecast the night before, the dive was aborted on the pontoon – no-one wanted to steam 30 miles into a south westerly 5-6.

We’ve been blown out since Sunday 4 June, right through to Monday 12 June. Unusually strong and prolonged winds have meant diving has been impossible.

 

Dive spaces:  There are 2 spaces available to dive an unidentified sailing ship in about 55 metres, on Monday 31 July. For details and to book on, contact Hamish on hamish@ruscombe.f9.co.uk;

Dive and vis reports:  From Tuesday 13 June to Friday 16 June the Southampton based Maritime Archaeology Trust was on board. We dived the 8500 year old site of a submerged human settlement site in good conditions. Vis was 2-4 metres and sea temperature of 16 degrees. We also dived the WW1 steamer in 38 metres, the South Western, where again conditions were very good. Visibility was in the region of 8-10 metres and some excellent underwater images were obtained. Another casualty was an unidentified wreck which may be the WW1 steamer Hazelwood. Diving on the LW slack visibility wasn’t quite so good at about 6 metres, but we’re no further forward in proving the wreck’s identity. On Saturday 17 June we dived the WW2 armed trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres.  Vis was very good and there was plenty of ambient light.  On Sunday 18 June we ventured mid Channel to dive the steamer Saxmundham, lost in 1888. This is an impressive wreck, the engine standing about 8 metres high. Lots of wooden deadeyes in excellent condition litter the site, and for the first time the remains of the stern were seen. Thought to have been buried in a sandbank, one diver continued to swim aft and on the other side of the bank the stern was found. Vis on site was not quite as good as inshore, the water having a slightly milky colour, but vis was still in the region of 8-10 metres. On Monday 19 June with the weather holding good, we steamed south west of the Needles and dived a wreck known as the Gallia in 38 metres. The true identity of this wreck is still unknown, but vis was an excellent 15 metres, with the water temperature around 15 degrees.  A second dive, drifting across Christchurch Ledge, was quite a quick drift in vis of 5-6 metres. Finally, on Tuesday 20 June was steamed south west again to dive an unidentified wreck, which was another Portland stone wreck. These were wooden sailing vessels which carried Portland stone to London during the 18th and 19th centuries, and this wreck is one of a number we know about off the Isle of Wight.

Dive/vis reports:  Strong winds on Friday 23rd, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th June has ruled diving out.

Forthcoming dive spaces: Dive spaces are available as follows and are accurate as of 24 June:

Saturday 8 July. Diving the WW1 steamer Bishopston in 58 metres.  Meet 0700 to leave 0730. 1 space remaining. Contact Jay on depth.hound@googlemail.com
Monday 31 July. Diving an unidentified sailing ship in 56 metres. Contact Hamish on hamish@ruscombe.f9.co.uk
Monday 7 August. Diving the WW2 armed trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres.  Contact Jane on jmaddocks25@gmail.com
Tuesday 8 August. Diving the WW1 steamer Mendi in 40 metres. Meet 0900 to leave 0930.  Empty boat at the moment.  Contact me for details – wightspirit@btinternet.com.
Friday 11 August. Diving the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres. Contact me for details onwightspirit@btinternet.com .
Friday 11 August. Diving the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres.  Meet at 10 to leave 1030. Empty boat at the moment.  Contact me for details – wightspirit@btinternet.com.
Tuesday 31 August. Diving the MV Guernsey Coast in 60 metres. Meet 0815 to leave 0845. 3 spaces available. Contact Jay, as above.
Friday 15 September. Diving the WW1 steamer Vikholmen in 60 metres. Meet 0845 to leave 0915.  3 spaces available.  Contact Jay, as above.
Saturday 30 September. Diving the WW1 steamer Oiekast in 60 metres. Meet 0845 to leave 0915.  Contact Jay, as above.
Sunday 1 October. Diving the WW2 MV Dallas City in 60 metres. Contact Jay, as above.
Dive/vis reports:  An improvement in the weather meant we were able to get out on the first 2 days of July. On Saturday 1 July we dived the WW1 steamer Borgny in 30 metres, and had vis of about 5 metres, followed by a drift dive across Christchurch Ledge where vis wasn’t so good. Next day, Sunday 2 July, we dived the Spyros in 30 metres where vis was slightly better at about 6 metres. A second dive on the War Knight was done, but conditions had deteriorated by the time divers surfaced and we had a bumpy ride back to the Needles. Water temperature inshore varies from 21 degrees in the Solent to 16 degrees inshore.
During the week commencing Monday 3 July and ending on Friday 7 July, operating from Southsea, we dived a number of WW1 wrecks as part of an archaeology project. Among the wrecks dived was the Camberwell, Kurland and Leon, all in about 30 metres. Despite very good neaps, vis was disappointing on this eastern side of the Island, being no more than 4 metres. At the end of the week we dived the mine carrier Eleanor where vis was much better at 7 metres in ambient light. More than 1100 photo were taken by one diver in order to produce a photogrammetry 3D image of the stern section of the wreck. On Saturday 8 July the wind fell away to nothing and with cloudless skies, we ventured 40 miles to the south east to dive the WW1 steamer Bishopston in 60 metres. Vis was an excellent 10 metres with torches unnecessary. Next day we returned to an old favourite, the steamer Daylesford sunk in 1911. Again, seas were flat, with no wind and bright sun. Vis was around 6 or 7 metres, though the water wasn’t quite clear enough so torches were a requirement. Water temperature for these offshore dives is hovering around 15/16 degrees.
Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces remaining to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres on Friday 11 August.  Meet at 10 to leave 1030. Names to me please.
Dive/vis reports: Friday 14 July – ventured to the east to dive the WW1 U-boat, U-90. A good dive though the weather deteriorated soon after we headed back. In fact, off St Catherine’s Point it was particularly unpleasant, with some rough seas. Water temperature is about 17° and vis around 4-5 metres. Dived again on Saturday 15 July – inshore, on the wreck of the coaster Braedale, and dived the WW1 steamer Fluent on Sunday 16th.
On Monday 17 July we dived another WW1 steamer, the Norma in 55 metres. This is a good dive, where vis was around 8 metres in ambient light. From Tuesday 18 July through to Saturday 5 August, we were blown out by continuous strong winds – blame to jet stream! The only dive achieved was in the protection of the Solent, conducting a survey on Yarmouth Pier on 1 August. The weather eased enough for us to dive the WW1 steamer South Western on Sunday 6 August. Vis pretty good at 5 metres, with the water temperature now around 18°.
On Monday 7 August we made our annual trip to HMS Swordfish, also off St Catherine’s Point, where vis was again in the region of 4-5 metres in ambient light. On Tuesday 8 August we dived the WW1 steamer Mendi,  another victim lying off St Catherine’s Point. Conditions were somewhat challenging, sea condition being less than ideal, but the dive was safely concluded.
Friday 11 August – due to dive the Smyrna – but blown out again, as we were on Saturday 12 August. However, conditions moderated on Sunday 13 August when we dived the wreck of the Iduna off St Catherine’s Point. On Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 August, operating from Southsea, we had two days on the wreck of HMS Invincible on the Horse Tail Sand, Portsmouth, mopping up and clearing the site after the extensive excavations which had been conducted earlier in the summer.
On Wednesday 16 August, intending to conduct above and below water surveys of the Nab Tower, the brand new gearbox in the boat suddenly seized up solid. Although I managed to arrange a tow back to Lymington, the breakdown ruled me out of action for some time. The gearbox was removed from the boat next day, and the day after it was delivered to the suppliers. They were able to turn it around and repair it in a week but it still meant cancellations, especially over the 4 day Bank Holiday weekend when guess what – the weather was brilliant. I finally returned to chartering on Monday 28 August, when we dived the WW1 steamer Britannia. On Tuesday 29 August, a Seasearch charter saw us diving Utopia reef south east of Portsmouth, as well as inshore east of Bembridge. Visibility was very good at 6 metres, and the water temperature is still hovering around 18/19°.  On Wednesday 29 August we concluded our surveys of Yarmouth Pier, though visibility was much lower than a month earlier.  On Thursday 31 August, we steamed offshore to dive an unidentified steamer. The wreck is a large on with huge boilers and a large stern gun. It is probably the WW1 steamer Luxor, torpedoed in 1918. A substantial wreck similar in size to the Fluent, everything seen on the wreck fits the description for it to be the Luxor.  On Friday 1 September we again went mid Channel, to the French side, where we dived the very large sailing ship Eugene Schneider, in visibility of 10 metres. On Saturday 2 September, we steamed to the south west to dive the steamer El Kahira lost in 1922. Visibility was again in the region of 10 metres.
Sunday 3 September was blown out but the weather moderated and we were able to get out on Monday 4 September. This time, we returned to an unidentified steamer thought to be the Hazelwood. A few clues exist to suggest this is her, but nothing positive. We were blown out again on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 September. Poor weather continued and we were blown out again from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 September. We also lost Thursday 14th for the same reason.
Friday 15 September – and it’s stopped blowing!  Although there was an unpleasant swell, the remnants of these persistent low pressure systems, we steamed to the south west to dive the WW1 steamer Vikholmen. Vis was in the region of 12-15 metres.  Next day, Saturday 16 September, we returned to the wreck thought to be the Luxor, in mid Channel. Although we have no positive identification, a fragment of pottery was seen which bears a close resemblance to that of the Moss Steam Ship Company, who were the owners of the Luxor. Vis was again in the region of 12 metres. Finally, on Sunday 17 September, diving the late LW slack, we sailed south west and dived the wreck of the sailing ship Waitara.  Vis has held up quite well to about 8 metres, but ambient light was low due to the late dive time. Water temperature is still around 18°.
On the weekend of 23 and 24 September we were out both days, and despite diving just after a run of big spring tides, vis was acceptable at about 3 metres. Water temperature still holds up well, being a warm 17°.  The next period when we were due to be offshore, from Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October, was blown out, with winds to strong to be offshore.  We were blown out again on Friday 13 October, but had a good weekend on the 14th and 15th before the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia hit the UK. We dived the Fenna, where vis was 2-3 metres, followed by a drift across Christchurch Ledge where vis was very much better. Next day we had better vis on the Borgny, with vis around 4-5 metres. The weekend ended with a drift from the Needles up the Solent. Although divers were separated by relatively short distances, they had different dives. Some drifted across a fairly featureless, muddy bottom, while others, slightly shallower, passed over much more interesting ground where there were numerous large plaice and rays, while the last group drifted across rough ground with lots of sponges etc.