News, reports and forthcoming diving 2016

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 2016 Early season: Well, the good news is that…

…the season kicked off on the neap tide over 14-18 April, with marine archaeologists, diving a 15th century wreck in the Solent. Water temperature has just about reached 10°. Vis started off as very poor (not more than 30cms, but nearer 10-15 cms) – not surprising as the previous weekend was huge springs and the Solent in April was never going to be brilliant. Despite low vis, work was done on the wreck, comprising tagging and measuring, prior to further work being done later in the month. As the neap tide weakened over the weekend, vis improved to a maximum of 1.5 metres, more than enough to accomplish survey work, and despite one day of heavy rain, sunshine helped with underwater work.

Dive/vis reports: On Sunday 24 April we ventured to the wreck of the Clan Macvey in 20 metres – a first dip of the season for most and a chance to get wet and get the season going.  On a bright, sunny day but with a bitter northerly breeze, we reached the site in good time. The wreck is known to be somewhat silty but despite this vis was about 1.5 metres – not bad for April on a spring tide on an inshore wreck.

Dive/vis reports: We concluded three days diving on the 15th/16th century wreck in the western Solent in late April with marine archaeologists. Visibility has improved there and ranged from .75 to 2 metres, enabling work to be carried out successfully.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 30 April in fine, bright conditions we dived the WW1 wreck of the steamer Britannia. The good vis hasn’t quite arrived – below 15 metres the water was dark and on the wreck vis was fairly low at 1-2 metres. Some divers reduced their dive time accordingly, while others stayed for the duration. On Sunday 1 May we dived the wreck of the steamer Lapwing, again in fine and bright weather. Conditions had improved slightly, with ambient light to 20 metres, and on the wreck, 2 metres visibility. For relatively inshore wrecks, such conditions are typical for this area in April.

Dive spaces: There are spaces available as follows: Wednesday 25 May, diving the steamer Faith in 36 metres. Subsidised dive at £35 per head if you are willing to report what you’ve seen.  Contact Jane on jmaddocks25@gmail.com.  Spaces also for Tuesday 31 May, diving the Norma in 55 metres, and on Thursday 23 June, diving the steamer Monton in 60 metres. Contact Jay on depth.hound@googlemail.com.

Spare days:  Whole boat available for Saturday 4 June and Sunday 21 August. Contact me please.

Dive/vis reports: Saturday 7 May – dived the Venezuela in bright, sunny conditions. Vis has improved considerably in the past few days and we had 4-5 metres on the wreck. Though a little gloomy it was quite easy to do the dive without a torch. This dive was followed by a drift across Christchurch Ledge, where the shallower water let in much more light with the vis a little better at 5 metres.

Dive spaces: There are still a few spaces left for the dive on the Faith (see above) and also for the Norma and Monton dives (also see above). Spaces are beginning to fill for Saturday 4 June – maximum depth 40 metres – if interested, please contact me. Choice of a number of wrecks: Simla, Tweed, Iduna, Empire Crusader, etc. Likewise, spaces are filling for the dive on 21 August – not quite sure of the site yet but likely in the 35-40 metre range.

Dive/vis reports: Thursday 11 May, diving in the Solent east of Yarmouth – and the vis is brilliant. Divers working on the wreck in 6 metres could be seen from the surface. Vis is surprisingly good, given that only a few days before we had a set of huge spring tides.

Dive/vis reports: Dived the WW1 steamer Azemmour on Saturday 14 May. Vis around 4-5 metres in ambient light, and the water temperature improving also at 11 degrees. From Sunday 15th to Tuesday 17th, we were diving the eastern Solent on the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible, recording, photographing and measuring areas of wreckage not seen before, as it has emerged from the sand. Strong winds intervened and we were blown out for the next 3 or 4 days. Vis was slightly disappointing on site, given the good neap tide, but sufficient for work to be carried out.

Spare days: There are still a few spaces left for Saturday 4 June.

Dive/vis reports: We were blown out 18/19/20/21 May but a break in the weather on Sunday 22 May meant we were able to get round the back of the Island in calm conditions. The water has a greenish hue, due to an unusually dense plankton bloom, which is worse at or near the surface. We dived the WW1 Norwegian steamer Cuba in 42 metres. Due to the plankton, it was quite dark below 25 metres, but the vis improved and was around 2-3 metres with a torch – certainly good enough for everyone to stay down for the duration of slack water. Plenty of large congers on the wreck. Water temperature is rising slowly and is now around 12 degrees.

Dive/vis reports:  Weekend of 28 and 29 May was calm and sunny. On Saturday we dived the Clarinda in 40 metres. Vis was 3-5 metres and as the plankton is now dispersing, it was just possible to do the dive in ambient light though in reality a torch was better. Next day we dived the LW slack on the Spyros. With the tide easing towards neaps, vis was expected to be reasonable and at 2-3 metres was somewhat low for the time of year. Plankton was the main cause. This was followed by a dive on the War Knight where vis was more like pea-soup – not surprising, as she’s close inshore and we’re just on the back of a low water spring tide.  Monday BH and Tuesday 31 May were blown out due to strong winds.

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces to dive the Faith on Tuesday 21 June – probably the earliest screw steamer shipwreck in UK waters. Contact Jane on jmaddocks25@gmail.com.

For the following spaces, contact Jay on depth.hound@googlemail.com: Sunday 19 June. One space to dive the Clarinda in 40 metres. Thursday 23 June. Three spaces to dive the Monton in 60 metres. Friday 24 June. One space to dive the Fort Yale in 46 metres. Sunday 31 July. Two spaces to dive the El Kahira in 60 metres. Saturday 27 August. One space to dive the steamer Finn in 60 metres. Sunday 28 August. Two spaces to dive the Everleigh in 40 metres. Monday 29 August. Two spaces to dive the Coquetdale in 40 metres.

Dive/vis reports:  Diving on the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible off Portsmouth on 1 and 2 June, despite the unseasonal, unfriendly low pressure system which came in from the east bringing strong northerly winds. We were able to work in a northerly 5-6 and had vis of about 3 metres, good enough to obtain plenty of photographs for a photogrammetry image of the wreck to be produced. On Friday 3 June, the wind dropped away to almost nothing, and we ventured to the Mendi off St Catherine’s Point. What has happened to the vis?  It was about a metre, dark, and not helped by the grey and gloomy conditions topside. Over the weekend of 4 and 5 June, we dived the steamer Clarinda where the vis was slightly better at 2 metres, but nowhere near what we should expect for early June. I’m told the plankton bloom is the worst for many years and extends from Cornwall to Kent.  On Sunday we dived inshore on the recently wrecked trawler Sally Jane followed by a dip on the War Knight where members of Hampshire & Wight Wildlife Trust were identifying various sponges, nudibranchs, etc. Vis was badly affected by plankton on the Sally Jane, where it was about 1.5 metres, but the War Knight was better at 2-3 metres. We had tried to dive further east, inshore, but visibility was very bad.

Dive spaces: Apart from those above, there are spaces to dive the British submarine HMS Swordfish on Monday 20 June. 3 spaces are available. Contact Jane on jmaddocks@gmail.com. There are 4 spaces available on Friday 1 July to dive the steamer El Kahira in 60 metres. Contact Simon on diver990@gmail.com

Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 11 June we ventured to the south west on a mid Channel wreck thought to be the WW1 casualty Ohio in 60 metres. Conditions were completely calm with a flat sea, no wind but an overcast sky. Despite this, visibility was terrific, at least 10 metres in ambient light, with plankton almost absent. Next day conditions had deteriorated. We still had grey skies, this time with heavy rain and a south westerly breeze. Sea conditions were less than ideal despite the weak tide, with a pronounced swell and choppy seas, but divers were able to explore the WW1 steamer Start in 42 metres.  More of an inshore wreck than the Ohio, vis wasn’t expected to be so good (it wasn’t) but though dark, 3-4 metres was the estimate. Plankton here is dying back and as the neap tide progresses visibility is expected to improve and reach inshore.

Dive/vis reports: From Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 June we were diving on Bouldnor Cliff, east of Yarmouth in the Solent, on a site of human existence 8500 years old. In vis of 3 metres, new areas of worked timbers were located suggesting the site was inhabited, though much more work needs to be done to interpret what’s been found. On Saturday 18 June we dived the WWII armed trawler Warwick Deeping. Vis was slightly lower than expected at about 4 metres, and the second dive on the War Knight was again disappointing for the time of year, best described as pea soup. On Sunday 18 June the steamer Clarinda was dived in calm conditions. Being further south than the Warwick Deeping, vis was better at 6 metres in ambient light. The good news is that the plankton has almost gone and vis now ought to continue to be reasonable.  Monday 19 June was blown out by strong winds.

Dive/vis reports:  Tuesday 21 June and the weather has settled, and we went to conduct surveys on the wreck of the 1855 steamer Faith. Conditions were excellent and with vis around 4-5 metres in ambient light, quite a lot was achieved, including locating the remains of the bows which had hitherto been ‘missing,’  and photographing various parts of the wreck.  On Thursday 23rd, we went mid Channel and dived the 1895 wreck of the steamer Monton. Conditions overhead were grey and cloudy with torrential rain, but the sea was flat and water visibility spectacular.  Divers reported being at 44 metres and seeing the wreck below in 60 metres with divers swimming around. That makes the vis about 16 metres and if we had had sunshine it would have been a good 20 metres.  Next day we dived the WWII steamer Fort Yale, a huge wreck. Being only 6 miles north of the Monton, expectations for good vis were high. However, steaming off St Catherine’s the water was very dirty – no particular reason why it should be so poor – but conditions improved as we steamed south east. On the wreck vis was about 5 metres. On the weekend of 25 and 26 June, the wind picked up and though we ventured past the Needles on Saturday, rough seas and a nasty swell prevented diving and the trip was aborted. As the forecast for Sunday was similar, I had the weekend off.

Dive/vis reports: On 27 and 28 June we were surveying the protected wreck site near Quarry Ledge, Thorness Bay. Commenced clearing the wreck of snagged ropes and other debris in preparation for a fuller survey, to be conducted later in the season. 29/30 and 1/2/3 July were blown out again by strong winds. However, we were able to get out off St Catherine’s Point on Monday 4 July, diving the WWII armed trawler Crestflower, where we had vis of 7-8 metres.  The weekend of 9/10 July and Monday 11th was blown out as this dreary, windy, unsettled summer continues. Conditions improved somewhat from 12th to 15th July, this time operating from Southsea with marine archaeologists. We surveyed and number of wrecks including HMS Boxer, German U-boat UB-21, SS Kurland, SS Pandion and also the earlier wrecks of the sailing barque Cadeuceus and HMS Impregnable. Despite the very good neap tide, vis was poor at 1-2 metres, though this improved on the last day to a more acceptable 4-5 metres. Water temperature is around 16°.

Dive & vis reports: Saturday 16 July and we’re back diving west Wight, with a drift dive across Christchurch Ledge in 7 metres vis, followed by 8 metres vis on the Spyros. Sea conditions were lumpy and there was a nasty swell and breeze, but the dive was worth it. On Sunday 17th we dived the WWII steamer Terlings in 40 metres, and had 8-10 metres vis in ambient light. Lots of wreck showing with the stern, steering quadrant and gun all prominent. On Monday 18th we ventured offshore in flat, sunny conditions, diving the wreck of the steamer Saxmundham in 60 metres. Vis was about 15 metres and more like what we’d expect – though not as good as 2015 when vis was 25 metres plus. Next day we’re diving south of St Catherine’s Point on the WW1 wreck of the steamer Londonier. Good vis at 7-8 metres and water temperature around 17 degrees. On Wednesday 20th we were blown out by strong winds, but on Thursday 21st we dived an unknown wreck in 38 metres, again in good vis. The wreck was the most exposed it’s been, standing 6 1/2 metres clear, and revealing just how big this wreck is. I have an idea of its identity but it’s not confirmed. Vis still good at 7-8 metres. On Friday 22nd we’re off St Catherine’s Point again on the wreck of the Cleddy. Don’t know why but the wreck was a bit dark and gloomy but vis still holding up well.

Dive and vis reports: Weekend of 23 and 24 June with the weather still good, we dived the WW1 wreck of the Westville in 40 metres. Entering the Solent we were shrouded in thick fog, which persisted all the way to the wreck site. Fortunately the sun forced its way through and the fog disappeared in time for slack. Vis still good, though slightly reduced on what we’ve had, to about 6 metres. On Sunday 24th we went offshore to dive the WW1 wreck of the Inger in 55 metres.  It was a grey, gloomy day, which translated to a grey, gloomy dive! However, vis was still good though a decent torch was necessary. The wind forecast was proved incorrect as we had nothing more than a westerly force 3 all day.

Dive spaces: The are spaces available to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres on Saturday 6 August.

Spaces update:  The Smyrna trip is now full.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 30th we ventured to the south west and dived the wreck of the Snowdrop, lost in 1886, in 57 metres. Very nice compound engine and single boiler with unusual steam collector fitted on top. Excellent vis around 12 metres.  Next day we dived a similar latitude on the steamer El Kahira in 60 metres. Excellent vis again, with some saying this was the best dive so far in 2016.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 6 August, following a windy week and big tides, we ventured offshore to the clipper ship Smyrna, in bright, sunny conditions.  Vis was 8-10 metres in ambient light.

Dive spaces:  There may be spaces on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August, wreck diving not exceeding 30 metres.  Contact the organiser, Jeff, on jeff@linkbase.co.uk for more details.

Dive/vis reports:  Carried out more survey work on the unidentified schooner wreck in Thorness Bay on 9-11 August. Vis at the beginning was 1 – 1.5 metres, but by Thursday this had improved, as the neap tide progressed, to a respectable  4 metres.  More debris was cleared from the site in preparation for photographic work to take place.  On Friday 12th August we ventured mid Channel to dive the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres.  Flat seas and sunny skies were with us for the long trip south of the Needles. Vis was around 15 metres in ambient light, though vertical vis was better still – one diver reported looking up from 22 metres and seeing the surface. Next day, with a different group of divers, we visited the WW1 wreck of the steamer Fluent. Despite passing through very clear water in the Solent and for 8 or 9 miles south, the wreck was in an area of slightly less clear water. This gave vis of 4-5 metres in ambient light. Finally on Sunday 14th, we again ventured mid Channel to the wreck of the barque Waitara in 60 metres. Vis was even better than Friday, at 15-20 metres horizontal, in ambient light. We were due to go offshore again on Monday 15th, but strong easterly winds forced us to cancel. Likewise on Tuesday 16th, when we were to go off St Catherine’s Point. Easterlies of 4-5 are just too uncomfortable and so it was another day off from this windy summer.  We did manage to get out on Friday 19th, to dive the Venezuela,in reasonable vis of 4 metres, but the weekend was blown out again, in what has been a windy, inconsistent summer.

Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 27th August in fine conditions, we steamed to the south west and dived the WW1 wreck of the steamer Finn in 60 metres.  Though somewhat dark, visibility was about 8 metres. Described elsewhere as upside down, the wreck in fact lies on its port side. The midships area has opened up allowing access to the interior. Next day was blown out but we reached the WW2 wreck of the steamer Coquetdale on Monday 29th. Sod’s Law – we passed through good vis on the way to the site, which gradually reduced so that the wreck gave only 2-3 metres vis – disappointing!

Dive/vis reports:  The weekend of 3/4 September was blown out, as was Saturday 10th, but in the following days we had some excellent diving. On Sunday 11th we dived the WW1 wreck of the Azemmour in 39 metres. Excellent dive with 6 metres vis, the swell on the surface was felt on the wreck though this didn’t affect the dive.  Next day we ventured mid Channel to dive the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres. Once again we passed through gin-clear water to reach the wreck, to find vis was not so good. At about 8 metres and dark, this was below what we’d normally expect on good tides on an offshore wreck. On Tuesday 13th, we again went mid Channel but not quite as far as the Nurnberg, and visibility was a sparkling 10 metres in ambient light. A very, very good dive was had on an unidentified wreck, which is thought to be the WW2 wreck of the motor vessel Dallas City. The very distinctive machinery arrangement strongly suggests that after 76 years the final resting place of this large wreck has been established. Finally on Wednesday 14th we returned inshore to the wreck which is almost certainly the wreck of the WW1 steamer Hazelwood. This wreck is prone to covering and uncovering with sand. At the moment it is very exposed but we still haven’t been able to prove its identity.

Dive/vis reports:  Saturday 17th was blown out due to strong northerly winds, but Sunday 18th was a lovely warm, sunny day, with flat seas. Having to contend with a big spring tide (7.2 metres on Dover) we dived the WW1 wreck of the  Venezuela in 27 metres. Suspended material in the water column reduced the light from below 20 metres, but on the wreck vis was about 2 metres with a torch – do-able and the sort of conditions expected in late September on a very big tide. Water temperature has now pretty much peaked at 19°.

Dive/vis reports:  The weekend of 24/25 September was blown out, as was Saturday 1 October, but on Sunday 2nd, the wind dropped and we ventured mid Channel. The sea state was somewhat confused with an uncomfortable swell, but the sea flattened off on slack water and with wall-to-wall sunshine, we dived an unidentified wreck which is probably the Dallas City sunk in 1940. With vis of 6-8 metres, light levels were unfortunately somewhat reduced and it was rather dark on the wreck, though it could just about have been dived in ambient light.

Dive/vis reports: On the weekend of 8 and 9 October, taking advantage of a very good neap tide, we visited the wreck of the Spyros and with the water still around 17°, had vis of around 3-4 metres, though it was a little dark; unsurprising given the time of year. A drift dive across Christchurch Ledge completed the day. On the Sunday we returned to the unidentified wreck in 38 metres, thought to be the WW1 victim, Hazelwood. If anything, the sand has disappeared even more, exposing more of the wreck. Unfortunately nothing was found to confirm the wreck’s identity.

The unidentified mid Channel wreck thought to be the Dallas City is now 99% confirmed as her. An underwater image of the engine has been examined by a Doxford expert who confirms the engine in the wreck is a Doxford engine, of a type fitted in the Dallas City.

Dive/vis reports: Possibly the last dive of the season – Saturday 29 October – taking advantage of calm weather – we dived the Borgny in 30 metres. Flat sea but an overcast sky, water temperature at 15°, vis was surprisingly good for the time of year – but we’ve had no wind of rain recently. Though, as expected, it was dark on the wreck, visibility was 3-5 metres, though torchlights were visible beyond that. If we have persistent high pressure and light winds, we’ll continue to put dives together, as we’ve shown that though it’ll be dark underwater, vis can still be good as long as you have a decent torch.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Diving Reports from 2015

Dive and vis reports 2015 Early season: Well, the good news is that water clarity is pretty much back to normal, unlike the exceptionally bad season of 2014. Our ‘black’ water arrived early, in late April, and gin-clear water came inshore.  After some early dives were cancelled due to strong winds, diving started in late April with a visit to an unidentified WW1 wreck in mid channel. Underwater photos taken of the bows, compared to a photo of one of the possible ships when in service, meant we were able to prove the wreck as that of the Norma, sunk in 1917. Although the day was overcast, vis was 10 metres at 55 metres depth without a torch. Early May saw another couple of dives blown out, but we did get out to the clipper ship Smyrna on Bank Holiday Monday. An unusually large swell for this part of the Channel made things slightly uncomfortable, but once again, despite overcast conditions, vis was a good 10 metres. A very strong blow from the south west threatened to stir things up inshore on 5/6 May, and indeed the vis, combined with the after effects of a spring tide, took a severe knock. Diving Freshwater Reef saw vis of less than a metre, but it was slightly better on the wreck of the Joannis Millas on the second dive. As the weather settled, so did the water, and at the weekend on the Fenna and Christchurch Ledge, vis had improved to 2 metres or so. Not great, but considering the recent weather, the dive was do-able and everyone enjoyed it. We’re still waiting for the weather to settle down properly –  up until now we’ve managed to pop out in between low pressure systems – but it’s still quite early and with the water temperature hovering around 11/12 degrees, things are warming up. Mid May and the diving off St Catherine’s is already better than anything we had last year. A dive on the Fallodon in 38 metres had about 4 metres vis and ambient light. Two recently lost trawls are now on the wreck – one on the bows, the other at the stern. It’s heavy duty trawl and easy to spot. Rough ride home. Next day we went to the Daylesford in 46 metres. Vis slightly better at about 5 metres, though darker as it’s deeper by 8 metres. Weather much better, calmer seas and sunshine. Monday’s dive to the Fort Yale was cancelled due to a south west gale. On the weekend of 23/24 May, we’re diving inshore. The Spyros and the Clan Macvey were dived, with drift dives across Christchurch Ledge as second dives. Vis was OK, around 2-3 metres, and settling down after a windy week. We were offshore on the 25th and 26th, diving the Milo in 53 metres and Hartburn in 50 metres respectively. Vis had dramatically improved at an easy 10 metres, with no torch needed. The next 3 days were in the western Solent, diving the protected wreck site of the Yarmouth Roads wreck (thought to be the Santa Lucia, lost in 1567), and also Bouldnor Cliff where there is an 8000 year-old settlement in 11 metres of water.  Even here on the best of the neap, vis was a good 4-5 metres. Friday was affected by a south westerly gale which knocked the vis back a little, but we were fairly sheltered by the Island and concluded all dives satisfactorily. On Saturday 30th, taking the opportunity to dive in between weather systems, we went to the wreck of the Simla off St Catherine’s Point. A fairly substantial swell was a little uncomfortable but with light winds we made it to the site and everyone dived, and reported an amazing 10 metres vis.  The large trawl net, which in the past had presented a hazard as it stood up like a huge curtain on slack water, has now wrapped itself up and is no longer a danger to divers. Next day, Sunday, was blown out. No spare spaces to report at the moment – but they are bound to arise…

Dive/trip reports: Saturday 6 June was blown out but we dived the Asborg off St Catherine’s Point on Sunday. Despite a run of spring tides, previous breezy weather and an inshore wreck, vis was a good 5 metres, and even on the War Knight for a second dive vis was 2-4 metres.  Strong north-easterlies from 9th-11th June prevented planned dives around the east of the Island.

Dive/trip reports: Friday 12 June. Despite a thundery, overcast day, we had 15 metres vis on the wreck of the Hopedale in 60 metres, no torch necessary. Divers decompressing reported seeing the surface from 20 metres.

Spaces: There are spaces to dive the wreck of the armed trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres on Saturday 20 June.

Dive trips/reports: Saturday 13 June was blown out but on Sunday we went to the wreck of the Ajax (the real one) off St Catherine’s. Stunning vis of 10 metres. Some excellent photos taken of the wreck including a view of the bow lying on its side, showing both anchors, with both the keel and f’o’c’sle visible. The wreck is much more covered with sand at the moment but with lots of wreckage poking up. The bow is pretty much fully exposed, but one boiler is completely buried.

Spaces update: The spaces for the Warwick Deeping on 20 June are all gone.

Dive/trip reports: Thursday 18 and Friday 19 June respectively, dived the Clan Macvey and War Knight. Vis on the Clan was good at 5 metres, but poor vis on the War Knight as a result of a large swell stirring things up. Vis on the Venezuela was slightly better at 6 metres. Water temperature now around 14 degrees. On Saturday 20th, we dived the Warwick Deeping and vis had improved at 6-8 metres, bright and clear without the need of a torch, and vis on the War Knight had improved dramatically to 5-6 metres, probably because we were on a flooding tide.  Next day, wind speed was considerably greater than forecast, and due to awkward times of slack water we did reverse profile diving. Vis on the War Knight was again 5-6 metres. We’d intended to dive the Fenna as the main dive, but a breakdown of the stern lift (since repaired) and wind blowing at force 5 gusting 6, we had to abort. We couldn’t find any sheltered water of Alum Bay, Totland Bay or Colwell Bay, so called it a day and went for a pint in the Mayflower.

Dive/trip reports: Wednesday 24th/Thursday 25th/Friday 26th June, diving with marine archaeologists, surveying WW1 wrecks.  The only way to describe vis over these three days is – absolutely phenomenal! We dived the wreck of HM steam drifter John Mitchell in 42 metres.  Vis was 15 metres minimum. The entire wreck was photographed and using computer software, a 3D image was produced, clearly showing the boiler, triple expansion engine, gun, ammunition and associated debris. The next two days we dived the wreck of the SS Gallia in 38 metres. More than 2400 photographs were taken, and vis was easily in excess of 20 metres despite foggy conditions topside. An ascending diver said he could see the surface from 28 metres depth. The next day, in sunshine, vis was estimated as at least 30 metres. This is exceptional. One of the divers, standing on a boiler amidships, said the visibility was virtually tropical and he was able to see towards  each end of the wreck, but not quite being able to make out the bow or stern. As the wreck is 90 metres long this serves to illustrate just how good conditions were.  On ascent, one of the divers photographed the dive boat from 24 metres depth. Another 3D computer image is being produced of the wreck, showing incredible detail.

Dive/trip reports: Saturday 27th, we dived the wreck of the Saxmundham, wrecked in 1888, lying in 60 metres.  Strangely, mid Channel vis is not as good as inshore, but still a healthy 15-20 metres, though a little milky.  Wreckage is much more exposed than previously, with substantial pieces standing up.  Next day, Sunday 28th, we dived the late slack on the stern section of the Serrana, in 18 metres. Despite overcast skies, vis was about 5 metres. This was followed by a swift drift dive from Hatherwood Point to Totland Bay on the flood tide.  On Monday 29th, we dived the wreck of the Spyros, 3 miles south of the Needles, on a flat calm, bright and sunny day, with an incredible 25 metres vis. This is virtually unprecedented.  Conversely, vis on the War Knight was poor at 2-3 metres.  On Tuesday 30th, we dived the Warwick Deeping in at least 15 metres vis, followed by a second dive on the wreck of the Joannis Millas, where vis was 4-5 metres.

Dive trips/reports: Wednesday July 1, we went to the wreck of the Clan Macvey, an inshore wreck in 18-20 metres. Vis was an acceptable 6-8 metres, and was followed by similar vis on a drift across Christchurch Ledge, where rays and other flatfish featured. Next day, Thursday 2nd, we dived the wreck of the Borgny in overcast, thundery conditions, but still had excellent vis of 15 metres. Friday 3 July saw us head east to dive the WW1 wreck of the steamer Redesmere in 40 metres. Vis noticeably deteriorated as we approached St Catherine’s, largely due to plankton and suspended sediment, yet still managed 10 metres vis in ambient light. Saturday 4 July, in lively sea conditions, we went to the wreck of the Spyros 3 miles south of the Needles, where vis was very good, at least 15 metres in bright, sunny weather. Sunday 5 July, by contrast, was disappointing. Weather and sea conditions were worse than predicted, with a heavy swell and poor vis on the wreck of the Joannis Millas. The dive was aborted when vis of about half a metre was reported, with the swell making diving on the wreck difficult. Despite this, we dived again under Totland Pier, where conditions were much more settled and agreeable.

Dive spaces:  There are 3 spaces available to dive the Spyros on Saturday 1 August. Contact me and I’ll forward your enquiry to the organiser.

Dive trips/reports: On Monday 6 July, we were testing some new side scan equipment, which is placed so as to give 360 degrees views of what’s on the seabed. Quite impressive. For the next 5 days the boat was out of action with a blocked intercooler. This has now been rectified and the engine’s as good as new. On Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 July we were diving with marine archaeologists out of Langstone Harbour. Wrecks surveyed and photographed included the SS Camberwell and HMS Boxer, where despite overcast skies, vis was around 5 metres. This deteriorated when we went to the remains of the German U-boat UB-21, but by then the tide was running anyway.

Spaces: There are still spaces to dive the wreck of the SS Faith in 36 metres on Monday27 and Tuesday 28 July. If interested, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the organiser. There are also 4 spaces available on Sunday 2 August, (not to be confused with the dive on the same wreck the day before) when we’re diving the Spyros in 30 metres. Meet 1015 to leave 1030. £45 per head. Second dive included.

Dive trips/reports: With the weather unsettled and hard to predict, we nevertheless managed to dive on the weekend of 18 and 19 July, visiting the wreck of the Clan Macvey on both days, where visibility was about 6 metres, with lots of life. We also drifted across Christchurch Ledge, where vis was similar, and also looked at How Reef in Colwell Bay, where some rare species of marine fauna were observed (stalked jellyfish). Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 July were blown out by strong south-westerlies.

Dive trips/reports: Unseasonably windy weather has made things difficult. We lost the next three days to strong winds, but managed to get offshore on Thursday 23 July to dive the wreck of the WW1 Norwegian steamer Start in 42 metres. Vis was not bad at about 6 metres. Next day, despite an uncomfortable eastlery breeze, we managed to get offshore again to dive the WW1 Italian steamer Gallia. Amazingly, despite 100% cloud cover and heavy rain, vis was 8-10 metres with no torch necessary – what would it have been if we’d had bright sunshine?  We were due to go mid Channel over the weekend of 25 and 26 July, but strong winds and gales prevented this.

Dive trips/reports:  Having been blown out by very strong winds from 25th to 28th July, we were blessed with warm, calm sunny weather on Friday 31 July, when we dived the WW1 U-boat, U-90. Despite big spring tides, vis has held up surprisingly well with no sign of the awful vis of 2014. The U-90 is an excellent dive, and vis was a good 7 metres with plenty of ambient light. This was followed by another good vis dive on the Joannis Millas, where vis was 6-8 metres, light and sunny.

Dive trips/reports: Weekend of 1 and 2 August saw us dive the Spyros on both days. Vis was remarkably good on the top of one of the biggest tides of the year, though Saturday, at 6-8 metres and plenty of ambient light, was much better than Sunday at 4-5 metres, and slack water was considerably later (and shorter) than normal. Even so, the dives were completed within the limits. We also had a dive on the wreck of the wooden warship HMS Pomone in Alum Bay, where once again, vis was good at 4-5 metres.

Dive trips/reports: Weekend of 8/9 August – on Saturday we returned to that old favourite, the Spyros, in fine weather; flat seas, no wind and bright sunshine. Vis was still good at 6 metres. This was followed by a fairly rapid drift across Christchurch Ledge, where lots of life was seen – shellfish, dogfish, rays, soft corals  etc.  Next day we ventured offshore to the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Kong Guttorm. Vis was better at 10 metres, though not as much as expected, almost certainly due to masses of dying plankton falling down through the water column.

Dive trips/reports: A dive on the 1874 wreck of the Vera in 46 metres was completed on Monday 10th August. Overcast, gloomy skies reduced the ambient light, but even so, vis was around 7-8 metres. On the next two days, Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th, with marine archaeologists on board, surveying WW1 wrecks, we went to the Venezuela and photographed the midships area. Next day we attempted to identify another wreck, thought to be a WW1 victim, but we went through the good vis to the not so good vis! Conditions on the wreck were dark, but about 4 metres with a torch. Certain measurements were obtained which may help to identify the wreck. Following this, we came inshore, where vis was better and with the sun emerging from the clouds, we dived the War Knight in bright conditions with 5 metres vis. More than 2000 photos were taken of the boilers, engine and most of the stern as part of a photogrammetry project. This means we’ll be able to stitch all these photos together to produce a 3D image of the wreck, viewable from any angle. Truly impressive stuff.

Dive trips/reports:   Aaarrgghh!  What’s happened to the vis!  Possibly due to a couple of days of strong north easterly winds, vis between Weymouth and Eastbourne has become poor, even though we’re not on big spring tides. On Saturday 15 August we dived the Clarinda and conditions below 20 metres were dark, and even with a torch vis was only about 2 metres.  Quite a sizeable swell, unusual for here, made things a little uncomfortable, but everyone completed the dive OK.  Next day, Sunday 16 August, we dived the wreck of the South Western. Weather was bright, clear and sunny. I expected vis to be worse off St Catherine’s, but it was in fact marginally better at 2-3 metres and despite low vis everyone enjoyed the dive.  Water temperature, which had just about reached 18 degrees, is now beginning to drop back and offshore is about 17.5 degrees.

Dive trips/reports:  We dived the Smyrna on Tuesday 18th August – another gloomy, grey day! Vis was below what we’d normally experience – about 6 metres and fairly dark – but still OK. From Saturday 22nd to Monday 24th, we operated from Southsea, diving WW1 wrecks as part of a project. Wrecks dived included the Camberwell, Luis, Kurland, UB-21, Camswan and HMS Velox. Vis improved as we approached neaps despite some appalling summer weather – torrential rain and an uncomfortable easterly breeze. In fact, wind direction was so unpredictable and variable, swinging through 90 and 180 degrees,  producing a confused sea state. Vis varied from 2 metres on the Luis (an inshore wreck) to 5 or 6 metres on the Kurland (even with the cloud and rain overhead, ambient light was enough to see the wreck clearly) as the tide weakened with the neaps. The following two days, when vis was expected to be at its best, were blown out by strong, unseasonal south westerly winds.

Spaces:  There are 4 spaces available to dive the wreck of the Venezuela in 28 metres on Saturday 5 September. Contact Martin on diveorientation@thedivingclub.co.uk to book on.

Bank Holiday Weekend 29/30/31 August. Now that the Met Office have admitted that, as 2015 is an El Nino year, they ought to have expected the world’s weather patterns would be affected, out dismal, gloomy summer is explained! Despite the clouds and rain, we dived the 3 day Bank Holiday weekend, starting with a mid Channel wreck, the Monton in 60 metres. Vis was very good at not less than 10 metres, though sinking plankton, from 6 to 30 metres, reduced the light. Even so, torches weren’t necessary. On the 6 metres stop at the end of the dive, divers were enveloped in a mass of thousands of tiny jellyfish, resulting in stings to exposed skin.  Below the jellyfish were shoals of whitebait.  Next day we ventured to the wreck of the Tweed in 40 metres off St Catherine’s Point, where, on these huge spring tides, vis was much reduced to about 1.5 metres. Next day, in an attempt to find clearer water, we dived the Clarinda in 40 metres south of the Needles, where vis was slightly better, on an even bigger tide, at about 2 metres. Doesn’t sound much, but torches were visible about 5 metres away, and everyone stayed down for an enjoyable dive. On the 2 latter dives, ambient light disappeared from about 25 metres, due to suspended matter in the water column.

Dive trips/reports: On the weekend of 5/6 September, we dived the Venezuela and Spyros respectively. Despite being on the back end of a big spring tide, vis held up reasonably well and was do-able at 2-3 metres; not great but OK. Water temperature is now beginning to decline at around 17 degrees. On Monday 5 September we went out mid Channel to the wreck of the German cruiser Nurnberg. On a flat, sunny day, vis was slightly disappointing at about 8 metres, probably about half what we’d normally expect. On Tuesday 6 September, just before the wind began to blow again, we dived the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Start in 42 metres. Despite being on a run of very good neap tides, the water didn’t clear as normal – no known or obvious reason – but vis was around 3-4 metres but dark. The following 4 days were blown out, merely a continuation of what has proved to be an unsettled, windy and gloomy summer, despite a promising start. We were able to creep out again on Sunday 13 September to dive the wreck of the Clan Macvey in 20 metres. Vis was about 2-3 metres. Sea conditions were somewhat lively and for a second dive we found sheltered, calm water in Alum Bay on the wreck of HMS Pomone.

Dive trips/reports: The weekend of 19/20 September proved to be settled, with light winds and sunshine. We dived the wreck of the Braedale in 35 metres on Saturday. Due to suspended matter in the water, it was dark below about 30 metres, but with a torch it was a good dive in vis of 2-3 metres, which is nonetheless disappointing for the time of year. Some large congers were seen in the wreck. Next we dived across Christchurch Ledge, where the water was better and brighter. Next day, due to the awkward time of slack water, we dived shallow in the morning on a pleasant drift across Christchurch Ledge and dived the WW2 wreck of the armed trawler Warwick Deeping on the afternoon slack. Again, it was dark from about 25 metres but vis of 2-3 metres with a torch. The wreck is showing obvious signs of breaking up. The planned dive to the wreck of the SS Faith on Tuesday 22 September has been blown out – Sod’s Law, as a very good neap tide is on – this is at least the third very good set of neaps blown out this year.

Dive trips/reports:  We were blown out again on Thursday 24th September. Managed to go as far as the Fairway Buoy before aborting the trip. Despite small tides and not much wind, seas were high and didn’t reduce as we ventured offshore. Nonetheless, with marine archaeologists on board, we managed to dive the Bouldnor Cliff site in the Solent, with vis of about 1.5 metres – just what we’d expect in that location at this time of year with the weather we’re having.

On Saturday 26 September, with calm seas and fine, sunny weather, we headed for St Catherine’s and dived the wreck of the Simla, lost in 1884. Lots to see here, including traction engines, masses of crockery, barrels and bottles. Dark below about 20 metres, where, oddly, vis improved but a torch was essential, but with vis of 3-4 metres with a torch, everyone had a good dive.

Dive trips/reports: Having been blown out since late September, and with wildlife divers on board, we dived close to Sconce Point near Yarmouth on Friday 9 October. Vis was poor and not helped by a bank of very thick fog which descended upon us. We tried then to dive round the back of the Island on Brook Ledges, but the water was too dirty. Nevertheless, we did find some visibility just off the entrance to Freshwater Bay. Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 October were blown out, as was Saturday 17 October. However, taking advantage of improved weather, we ventured mid Channel on Sunday 18 October to dive the Monton in 60 metres. Vis wasn’t great for this far south, but with a torch, around 3-4 metres but quite dark.  Sunday 24 October was blown out – but we’re trying for a late season dive on Saturday 7 November

 

 

 

 

Diving Reports from 2014

The season commenced for us on the weekend of 12/13 April. Despite a very good neap tide immediately preceding the weekend, vis is appalling. Though we had flat seas and bright sunshine on HW slack, visibility on the Borgny was less than a metre, and on the Clarinda the next day, about a metre. It was dark below 10 metres.  Fine silt and sediment, probably the remnants of the prolonged winter storms, is affecting the entire water column. None of this was helped by a series of 9 metre swells recorded off the Needles, which must have disturbed long buried sediment. Though we don’t normally have brilliant vis in April, what we’ve got is worse than normal. I anticipate this will settle and clear in the coming weeks and should be back to normal when the black water arrives here in early May.