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





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