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
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
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.



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