News, reports and forthcoming diving 2017

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 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.

 

 

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