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.

Diving Reports from 2013

The season began in mid April on the wreck of the steam coaster Braedale, with the coldest sea temperature I’ve known at 5 degrees. Vis wasn’t great at 2-3 metres but it’s April after all. Next day we reviewed the distance we were due to go offshore and dived the Lapwing, where the vis was better. We returned to the same wreck in early May and had excellent vis of 7-8 metres. The following day we dived the steam trawler Neree in similar vis.

 

On 7/8 May we worked from Southsea to dive the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible (wrecked 1758). Survey work on newly exposed areas was carried out, and posts inserted into the seabed in order to measure the rise and fall of sand covering the site. The following few days and weekend were blown out by strong winds.

 

The weekend of 18/19 May was memorable for the staggeringly good vis we had.  On the WW1 steamer Eleanor on Saturday it was not less than 20 metres, with divers describing being able to see both sides of the wreck and the surrounding seabed from some distance above the wreck. The next day, on the mid Channel wreck of the sailing ship Waitara, similar superb vis was had, with divers describing the wreck below, in 60 metres, from a depth of 40 metres, and watching divers swim across the wreck.  The following day we ventured south west to explore a small mark which turned out to be an old, iron barge, full of crabs and lobsters.

 

From 21 May we again worked from Southsea, continuing the survey work on HMS Invincible, in perfectly acceptable Solent vis of 3-5 metres. A northerly gale blew us out on Friday, but the weather settled down again for the Bank Holiday weekend.  On the 25th we dived the WW1 Norwegian steamer Borgny in 30 metres, with vis around 6 metres, and sea temperatures now reaching around 10 degrees. The next day we dived the WW2 wreck of the steamer Listrac in 38 metres, where vis was better at 7-8 metres, being further offshore.  Despite big spring tides, which pretty much destroyed vis close inshore, we were able to dive the WW1 steamer Venezuela on BH Monday and had vis of 4-5 metres, though vis for the second dive on the WW1 steamer War Knight was no more than one metre, with lots of particles in the water.  That’s exactly to be expected on big springs.

The weekend of 1/2 June should have produced good vis – it was neaps and the weather was fine, and although we ventured mid Channel to dive the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres, vis was a disappointing 10 metres in ambient light. Next day, expecting the vis to improve, we went to the Smyrna.  All the way from the Needles to the wreck, the water looked a greenish brown colour, though this had improved by the time we were on site.  Visibility of about 5 metres was all there was and it was dark, entirely due to a thick plankton bloom, easily the worst for perhaps 10 years. Despite this, the dive was good, though one diver developed decompression sickness which couldn’t be resolved by administering oxygen.  A quick ride to the chamber for a 5 hour treatment, and all was well afterwards.

Weekend of 8/9 June was unsettled, and sea conditions were not good enough to go to our intended site, the Spyros, so we ventured north to where seas were better, but the vis was poor. Neverthelss, a dive on the WW1 trawler Albion was complete, followed by a second dive on the War Knight. Vis all round was poor for June. The next day conditions had improved and vis was much better on the Fenna at 4-5 metres, followed by a drift dive across the south easern end of Christchurch Ledge.  On Monday 10th, we visited the Swordfish and visibility was again disappointing at 4-5 metres, and dark. The following weekend was lost to strong winds, but from 17th-20th June I had on board marine archaoloogists, surveying the mesolithic site at Bouldner Cliff near Yarmouth. The following day divers from Hampshire Wildlife Trust dived off Brook and in Totland Bay, surveying the marine life. Once again, the weekend was blown out by strong winds, but on 29th conditions had improved greatly and heralded what was to become a prolonged spell of warm, sunny and settled weather. The Wildlife Trust were on board again and we dived the Fenna followed by a vertical reef dive in Alum Bay.  Visibility on the Fenna was around 6 metres and light. Next day we dived the Borgny and War Knight, with vis underwater being improved.

 

July began with a 5 day trip diving out of Southsea Marina with Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. This truned out to be an excellent week where a number of shallow wrecks were surveyed.  As part of a WW1 project, dives were also carried out on the Empress Queen, HMS Velox and HMS Boxer. The week ended by diving on two recently located anomolies, one being a small steel craft with no distinguishing features, the other being a WW2 landoing craft, possibly a fuel barge.

We returned to the Swordfish on 6 July, followed by a shallow drift dive across Atherfield Ledge. Conditions were excellent, with fine weather, calm seas and good visibility. The next day we went to the WW1 wreck of the steamer Inger where probably the best visibility we’d ever had on the wreck was experienced – probably 10-12 metres, and light.  During the week commencing 8 July, a number of wrecks were visited in what was expected to be good conditions.  On Monday we dived the Oriflamme in 6-8 metres vis. For the next few days, visibility was good until we reached the vicinity of the wrecks, just south east of St Catherine’s Point, where large patches of brown water were present.  Despite this, we dived the Wapello in 2-3 metres vis, followed by the South Western where conditions were much improved. We’d intended to dive the Leon the next day, but arriving on site the same dirty water was present, so we diverted to the South Western. Conditions again defeated us the next day on the Fallodon with dirty water, but by steaming only 200 yards south we were in clear water again.

 

On the weekend of 13/14 July, conditions remained excellent with clear water a few miles south of the Needles, where we dived the WW1 steam drifter New Dawn. Visibility was artound 8 metres and light. Next day, we steamed west to dive a patch of rocks called the Durleys near Bournemouth Pier, diving a reverse profile because of awkward slack water times. The main dive was on the Betsey Anna in clear vis of 6-8 metres and light.  During the early part of the week, marine archaeologists were on board, surveying, photographing and drawing the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible. With a good neap tide, visibility was excellent and much work was completed.  On the 18th, with a different group of divers, we steamed south west of the Needles to dive an unidentified wreck in 60 metres. Visibility was stunningly good, at least 30 metres and light, with no need for torches.  The wreck was positively identified as the Hopedale, lost in 1908. Identification was confirmed through the description of the wreck compared to that of the Hopedale, and video and stills footage which actually showed the same features when compared to a photograph of the ship.  Next day, again in terrific visibility, we dived the paddle steamer Normandy.

 

The weekend weather of 20/21 July looked likely to restrict our movements.  We’d intended to dive the Simla in 40 metres on Saturday, but a nasty easterly wind and swell made life too difficult, and we diverted to the Molina instead. Visibility was reported to have been the best the divers had had on this wreck, easily 8-100 metres.  The next day, the wind and swell had moderated though sea conditions were still somewhat uncomfortable, and we went to the Daylesford in 46 metres. Visibility was exceptional, estimated at 15 metres, and due to this it was possible to swim off the main wreck yet still see the wreck.  As a result, the f’o’c’sle bell was located marked ‘SS Daylesford, 1882, Sunderland.’ It’s a lovely bell.    On Monday, with a BBC film crew and professional underwater photograher Mike Pitts, we went to the South Western in fine weather, with flat seas and good underwater visibility.  The wreck was filmed for a forthcoming programme on BBC South called Inside Out. The programme is expected to be broadcast later in 2013 or 2014.

On Saturday 27 July, despite a big spring tide just having passed, we had 2-3 metres vis on the Clan Macvey – with plenty of shellfish to be seen.  Seas were flat but vis close inshore has taken a knock – less than a metre on the War Knight for a second dive.  That should improve greatly with the oncoming set of neaps.

Dive spaces: I have spaces as follows:  Saturday 3 August, diving the Witte Zee in 33 metres.  Meet 0700 to leave 0730. £44 per head. Second dive included. Monday 5 August. 2 spaces available to dive the South Western in 38 metres.  Meet 0745 to leave 0815.  Thursday 8 August, 2 spaces available to dive in the low 30’s, wreck to be decided but likely to be the Witte Zee, Warwick Deeping, Spyros or Asborg. Meet 0945 to leave 1015.  £44 or £46 per head depending on how far we go. Nmes to me asap please.

Dive/vis reports: During the week commencing Monday 29 July, marine archaeologists were on board diving Pitts Deep and Bouldnor cliff.  An interesting discovery was the recovery of a piece of vertebra in context with the site of human habitation of 8500 years ago.  Examination of the bone will determine whether it’s animal or human and may provide evidence of butchery. Later in the week the steamer Serrana was dived and extensively photographed, to the extent that a 3D image of the ship’s 7.5″ howitzer has been produced. Vis at the end of the week was a very acceptable 6 metres, an improvement from the start of the week. We also investigated two fishermen’s hangers, one of which seems to have been debris since carried away by the tide. The other, probably a length of wooden keel, requires further investigation. An attempt to dive the protected wreck sites of HMS Pomone and HMS Assurance on Goose Rock had to be aborted due to poor sea conditions.  The first weekend of August was cancelled due to strong winds, but on Tuesday 6 August we ventured out to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres. In fine conditions, underwater vis was 15 metres and some excellent photos were taken of the wreck.  The following 3 days were taken up by Nekton dive club, with some individuals making up the spaces.  Vis of 6-8 metres was had on the Spyros while the highlight was a dive on the Asborg, also in very good vis.  The engines, boiler and stern/propeller were particularly impressive. The last day saw us visit the Braedale in lumpy sea conditions, where although the site was a little dark, vis was again good at 6-8 metres.  The weekend of 10/11 August saw us venture to mid Channel where an excellent dive was had on the 1895 wreck of the steamer Monton in 60 metres.  Vis was 10-12 metres. Next day we went to the American tanker Y48, scuttled in 1944, where vis was slightly reduced due to cloud cover.  A Harley Davidson motor cycle or an Indian motor cycle (need an expert to tell which is which) was photographed in a hole towards the bow.

Dive/vis reports: In mid August we ventured to the south west to investigate unidentified sites. The first dive turned out to be another barge in 60 metres loaded with cast iron fittings.  Not much of a dive but these sites have to be looked at. Stunning visibility of 20 metres and some huge crabs covered the wreck. Next day, due to a poor forecast, we visited the Clarinda in 40 metres, again with excellent vis though conditions topside were gloomy, with thick cloud and rain. The weekend of 17/18 August was blown out but on Monday 19 August we visited the Mendi in 40 metres. Good vis of 6-8 metres was had, in ambient light, and some very good underwater footage was taken. The August Bank Holiday weekend duly arrived, though Saturday was blown out.  On the Sunday we went to the Borgny in 30 metres, followed by the War Knight. Vis was quite acceptable, given the spring tides, around 4 metres.  Next day we went further south west to the Braedale, where visibility was better at about 6 metres. A drift across Christchurch Ledge completed the diving.  On Tuesday 27th we managed to get in an afternoon dive on the Fenna in 23 metres. Plenty of lobsters and congers to be seen, and vis was quite good at about 5 metres.  After that, I steamed to Southsea in order to carry out 2 days diving operations on the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible, where trainee marine archaeologists carried out practical tasks. Vis on the ebb tide at about 3 metres was considerably better than the flood, which brought in huge amounts of weed.  At the end of August we went to the wreck of the Milo in about 53 metres. Excellent vis of 15 metres was affected by a vast profusion of fish including many, many congers – the wreck was absolutely covered in them. Despite this everyone had a good dive. On 31 August conditions were ideal to venture a long way south – 38 miles in fact, to the wreck of the Eugene Schneider. This is a huge steel sailing ship, her cargo of railway sleepers still packed in her holds. Visibility was 15-20 metres and light at the bottom. Next day we returned to the wreck of what was thought to be the Luxor.  This was identified when a piece of crockery bearing the company crest was recovered a few years ago. To complicate matters, a circular brass nameplate was recovered which bore the date 1883.  Luxor wasn’t built until 1918. Fortunately, the brass plate has a serial number, and the maker’s name, and I now await the result of an enquiry with the archives to determine the true identity of the ship. Vis on this dive was gain 15-20 metres, the huge engine standing almost 8 metres clear of the seabed.

The first week of September was spent with a South African media/film crew diving the wreck of the Mendi in preparation for a forthcoming documentary. The loss of the ship and so many black South African men in 1917 is a significant event in South Africa and the story is taught in schools there. Weather and sea conditions were perfect but the St Catherine’s vis had other ideas – it was 2-3 metres. This was very disappointing considering that a few miles west the water clarity was still very good. The underwater film crew did manage to secure some footage of the wreck. On the second day we were accompanied by another boat, on which were a film crew from BBC Coast. The Mendi will feature in the Coast series in the spring of 2014.

 

 

 

 

Diving Reports from 2012

First dive of the season was on Saturday 31 March.  Glorious clear, sunny day, flat sea and no wind.  Dived the Normandy in 47 metres.  Vis was 4-5 metres, though ambient light was lost below 30 metres.  Next day, similar conditions were experienced though with a very chilly easterly breeze.  We dived the Norma in 55 metres, a few miles south of the Normandy.  After another 24 hours of really small neaps, the visibility had improved to 10 metres without a torch, in ambient light. The tide was so weak we were able to dive before slack, and after in-water dive of and hour and a half, we were still within a couple of hundred yards of the wreck. Oh, and water temperature was 7 degrees on the bottom and 9 near the surface.

Forthcoming dive spaces: I have 1 space left to dive the Daylesford in 46 metres on Saturday 21 April.  Meet 0800 to leave 0830.  I have 4 spaces available on Saturday 19 May to dive a wreck in 40 metres – likely to be selected from the Iduna, Simla, Westville, Londonier, Tweed, etc.  Meet 0745 to leave 0815. £46 per head including second dive for those who want it.  Lastly, 4 spaces are available on Wednesday 20 June to dive the ever popular clipper ship Smyrna in 52-57 metres on Wednesday 20 June.  Meet 0830 to leave 0900.

Spaces update: Only 2 spaces remaining for Saturday 19 May and just 1 space left for the Smyrna dive on Wednesday 20 June.

Spaces update: The Smyrna dive on Wednesday 20 June is now full.

Dive/vis reports:  Dived the Messina on Saturday 14 April.  Despite being a gray day, vis was 10 metres without a torch. Water temperature is up to about 10 degrees.  Sloppy ride back and for one of the divers, a quick ride to the chamber after showing signs of decompression sickness. Sunday was cancelled due to strong north east winds.

Spaces update: One space remaining for Saturday 19 May.

Dive/vis reports. Following gales, heavy rain and huge spring tides, inshore vis has been awful.  Needless to say, there hasn’t been much diving. At this time of year the clear May water should be in.  However, on Saturday 12 May we dived the Venezuela.  There was a definite change in water colour once we were a few miles off the Needles.  On the wreck visibility was a passable 2 metres, but dark, but no problem with a torch.  In contrast to that, next day we dived the El Kahira near mid Channel. Vis improved suddenly once we passed about 50 25 north, as we headed south-west.  On the wreck a good 8 metres vis was had in ambient light – and that’s at 60 metres. Water temperature is now around 11-12 degrees. On the way back with the flood tide, the clearer water had moved much further north.

Spaces update: The boat is full for Saturday 19 May.

Spaces available. Diving the WW1 armed trawler Michael Clements on Thursday 21 June. Meet 0900 to leave 0930. £48 per head.

Dive/vis reports: The diving over the weekend of 19 and 20 May was excellent.  Dived the Iduna off St Catherine’s on Saturday in 8 metres vis, followed by the War Knight in quite acceptable vis of around 3 metres.  Despite a forecast for Sunday of NE 5-6, we met on the pontoon to find no wind, and dived the Fenna in 23 metres.  Vis was around 3-4 metres, followed by a second dive on the Joannis Millas in 6-9 metres, where the vis was described as better.  On Monday 21st, we ventured mid Channel to an unidentified mark, with vis at 60 metres about 8 metres without a torch.  The wreck lies across the tide with one boiler and a compound engine, and a cargo of coal.  Nothing was found to identify the wreck.

Spaces update: Still looking for divers for the Michael Clements in 48 metres on Thursday 21 June. Still need a few more to make the trip viable.

Spaces update: One space remaining for the Michael Clements dive on Thursday 21 June.

Dive/vis reports: During the last week of May we dived in the Solent with Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology.  Due to continuing poor weather, vis was low but the week was completed.  Saturday 2 June, diving the Spyros, was a good day but poor inshore vis prevented a second dive.  We managed to get out to dive the Westville on Monday 4th despite a poor forecast, and could have made it safely to our intended destination had we known what the wind would do.  Next day on a similar forecast we aborted when south east of the Needles.  Midweek I was due to take out some juniors, but the poor vis and swell made life difficult, and we just about managed to get one day in.  After that, more cancellations, but the archaeologists came to the rescue again when we dived the western Solent in mid June.  Visibility did improve as the week went on, but it was still unsettled and not at all what we should be having at this time of year.  The weekend of 17/18 June was cancelled, but Monday 18th saw us get out to dive the Swordfish  in excellent visibility of 8 metres, with the water temperature up to around 13 degrees. The following two days were spent mid Channel, with 10 metres vis on the Luxor in 60 metres, and even better vis of 15 metres on the Smyrna in 55 metres the next day. Unsurprisingly, the following days were blown out with more rain and gales. The optimist in me says it will improve sooner or later, though quite when is anyone’s guess.  Looking ahead to the weekend at the end of June, it looks like another low pressure system is lining up to blow us out.

Spaces: I have 4 spaces available to dive the Smyrna on Friday 6 July.  Meet 1000 to leave 1030. On Tuesday 24 July, I have 3 spaces available to dive something in 30 metres.  If conditions are right we’ll dive the Asborg.

Spaces: I have 5 spaces available on Saturday 30 June to dive the Clan Macvey in 18 metres.  Meet 1100 to leave 1130. Wednesday 1 August – 5 spaces available to dive the WW1 armed trawler Michael Clements in 48 metres.

Spaces update: Now only 2 spaces remaining for the Clan Macvey dive on Saturday 30 June. Three spaces remaining for the Smyrna dive on Friday 6 July. Two spaces remaining for Tuesday 24 July.

Spaces update: Clan Macvey dive on Saturday 30 June is full.  Dive on Tuesday 24 July is full.   On Wednesday 1 August, I have 4 spaces remaining to dive the Michael Clements. Three spaces remaining to dive the Smyrna on Friday 6 July.

Spaces update: Boat is now full for Tuesday 24 July.  2 spaces remaining for the Michael Clements on Wednesday 1 August.  Three spaces remaining to dive the Smyrna on Friday 6 July.

Spaces update/dive reports: Another weekend blown out (end of June) but spaces are going for future dives: 2 spaces remaining for the Smyrna dive on Friday 6 July. 2 spaces left for the dive on the Michael Clements on Wednesday 1 August.

Dive/vis reports: Mid Channel dives in the first week of July were pretty good, with vis around 8-10 metres.  Dived an unidentified wreck in 67 metres completely upside down.  Two visits to the Smyrna saw vis slightly lower as the spring tide reached its peak, but still acceptable at 6-7 metres in ambient light.

Spaces update:  Spaces are available as follows:  Sunday 22 July, one space available to dive the Tweed in 40 metres.  Friday 27 July, one space available to dive the Nurnberg in 60 metres.  2 spaces available to dive the Michael Clements in 48 metres on Wednesday 1 August. On Friday 10 August, 1 space available to dive the Kong Guttorm in 55 metres. 2 spaces available to dive the Nurnberg in 60 metres on Sunday 12 August. One space available to dive the Oiekast in 62 metres on Sunday 26 August. Two spaces available to dive the Sphene in 65 metres on BH Monday 27 August. 3 spaces available to dive an unidentified wreck, depth mid 60’s, on Friday 31 August.

Spaces update: The dive on Friday 10 August is full.

Dive/vis reports: Vis off St Catherine’s Point has been good.  Over the weekend of 21/22 July, which coincided with the reintroduction of summer, vis of 8-10 metres and 6-8 metres repectively was had on the Empire Crusader and the Tweed.   Inshore over the following 2 days, vis of around 6 metres was had on the Spyros and the Venezuela, while closer inshore on the War Knight and Joannis Millias, vis was, as anticipated, lower at 3-5 metres. Later in the week a terrific day was had diving the mid Channel wreck of the Nurnberg in 60-63metres, where vis was at least 15 metres.  On the last Saturday in the month, we looked at the stern section of an unidentified mid Channel wreck. although only a few miles north of the Nurnberg, vis was disappointingly low at 4-6 metres. The wreck remains unidentified. Strong winds forecast for Sunday meant was cancelled.

Spaces: One space remaining to dive the Witte Zee on Sunday 5 August. Meet 1045 to leave 1115.  Second dive included, on the wreck of the War Knight.  £44 per head.

Spaces: The Witte Zee dive on Sunday 5 August is full.  I have 6 spaces available on Sunday 19 August to dive the Venezuela in 28 metres. Meet 0945 to leave 1015. Second dive included. £44 per head.

Dive/vis reports: Managed to get out to dive the Witte Zee on Sunday 5 August, aftyer the Saturday was again blown out.  Nice warm sunny day, with vis about 3 metres. Not bad considering we were on the top of a big spring tide.  The second dive on the War Knight was quite diveable with 2 metres vis.

Spaces update: There are only 3 spaces remaining for the dive on the Venezuela on Sunday 19 August.

Spaces update: The dive on the Venezuela on 19 August is now full.

Dive/vis reports: During the week of the 7/8/9 August I had marine archaeologists on board surveying the protected wreck site of HMS Invincible on Horse Tail Sands.  Surprisingly the vis was quite good on the ebb, and they were able to work through the tide, but the flood brought huge amounts of weed which made surveying, photography and drawing very difficult indeed. Some new areas of the wreck, previously unsurveyed, were located and recorded. At the end of the week, I took a team of divers to the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Kong Guttorm in 55 metres.  As the tide was easing back rapidly towards neaps, the inshore vis looked brilliant, and then worsened the further offshore we went.  Nevertheless, 6 metres vis was had, though it was quite dark on the wreck.  Saturday was cancelled due to strong easterlies, but on Sunday we went to the mid Channel wreck of the Nurnberg.  Best vis of the season was recorded at 20-25 metres in ambient light, a real stunner of a dive. Diving midweek is cancelled as the next nasty looking depression is lined up to wipe us out again, though the weekend is looking good.

Spaces: I have spaces available as follows:  Wednesday 10 October. Diving the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60-62 metres.  Meet 0900 to leave 0930. Four spaces available. £60 per head. Thursday 11 October, returning to the Nurnberg. Meet 1015 to leave 1045. Four spaces available. £60 per head. Friday 12 October. Diving either the Normandy in 48 metres or the Messina in 50 metres. Four spaces available. £55 per head. Saturday 13 October. Diving the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres. Leave 0700. One space available. £55 per head. Sunday 14 October. Returning to the Smyrna. Meet 0715 to leave 0730. Three spaces available. £55 per head. There is a question mark over this date as it has been provisionally booked by another group but who have not confirmed. I am seeking clarification.

Spaces update:  One space remaining for the Nurnberg on Wednesday 10 October, and four spaces available for the same wreck on Thursday 11 October.  Four spaces left for Friday 12 October. Saturday 13 October is full.  One space remaining for the Smyrna on Sunday 14 October.

Spaces update: Nurnberg dive on Wednesday 10 October is full.  Smyrna dives on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October are full.  Still 4 spaces on Thurdsay 11 and Friday 12 October.

Dive/vis reports: We managed to get in the weekend’s diving, 18/19 August, following the 3 days previous strong winds.  Vis was a little disappointing on the Faith at 2-3 metres, but everyone was happy with the dive, having dropped through the stirred up water nearer the surface.  It was dark on the wreck as a result of the suspended matter blocking out the light, but good with a torch.  Next day we went to the Venezuela where the vis was better, but not great.  Big spring tides don’t help.

Spaces update:  The Nurnberg dive on Thursday 11 October is now full. Three spaces remaining for the dive on Friday 12 October. Other spaces available – one space available to dive the WW1 wreck of the Oiekast in 62 metres on Sunday 26 August, and 2 spaces available the next day, Monday 27 August, on the WW1 wreck of the Sphene. Looking at the weather forecast for the Augsut BH weekend, we may well be blown out again due to an approaching low pressure system, which is expected to bring strong wind and rain. We’ll see how it develops…

Dive/vis reports: I took Hampshire and Wight Wildlife Trust round to Blackgang, on the south coast of the IOW on 23 August, where they dived a reef which lies across the tide and which has an impressive drop off from 9 to 18 metres. They were recording the flora and fauna of the area. The following Bank Holiday weekend was wiped out due to more bad weather, but conditions settled down again the following week and with the Wildlife Trust back on board, we dived various sites in the Solent.  Vis wasn’t great but sufficient to carry out the dives.  The last day of August was fine and sunny and we returned to the wreck of the Monton in 60 metres. Offshore, the vis was somewhat disappointing at about 5 metres, but the dive was successfully completed.  September kicked off with some decent weather and we dived the Spyros in about 5 metres vis.  Next day saw us return to the Daylesford south of St Catherine’s Point, where we had similar vis. From mid September onwards, the weather continued to be better. The Wildlife Trust returned for another dive off Blackgang where more species were recorded, and which has filled in some gaps in our knowledge of what’s there.  The next day a small group took advantage of the neap tide and we dived the unknown schooner wreck in the Solent, followed by a productive drift dive on the flood tide, where crockery, bottles, a large shellcase and other items were found. The schooner wreck remains unidentified.  This was followed by a dive with Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology on Bouldner Cliff, where filming took place for a forthcoming programme on the Discovery channel.  In mid September, a small team dived the wreck of the Saxmundham in 40 metres. The wreck looked to be exposed, a good sign as on occasions the wreck is completely covered in a large sand bank. Certainly the midships area was largely free of sand, but the bow and stern parts were covered. Over the weekend of 15/16 September, the fine weather continued. We returned to the Spyros and the War Knight, where good vis of 6 and 4 metres respectively was had. Next day we went to the Venezuela in similar conditions. We’d wanted to dive the Borgny but an angling boat was anchored in the wreck and so we diverted to the nearby Venezuela.

Spaces update: I have 2 spaces available on Sunday 23 September to dive the Spyros in 31 metres. Meet 0815 to leave 0845. Second dive included. £44 per head. There is one space remaining  to dive the clipper ship Smyrna on Saturday 13 October. It’s an early start – we need to be away by about 0700. £55 per head.

 

 

Diving Reports from 2011

17 March 2011.  The new boat is almost ready for the new season.  I’m waiting on the certifying authority giving approval before I can operate legally.  A new stern lift has been fitted and as soon as the stainless steel benches have been fabricated and fitted, we can get going.  It will probably take me most of the season to identify improvements which need to be made but as things stand at the moment the boat is pretty much ready.  Here are some spaces for the coming season:

Friday 17 June.  2 spaces to dive the American tanker Y48 in 58 metres.  Excellent dive.  Friday 24 June. 6 spaces to dive the Nurnberg in 62 metres.  Another excellent dive. Monday 18 July.  8 spaces to dive the Olivine in 70 metres.  Very good dive. Tuesday 19 July.  6 spaces to dive the Isleworth in 70 metres.  Very good dive. Saturday 23 July.  1 space to dive the German U-boat U-480 in 58 metres.  Intact sub for those who like tubes. Sunday 24 July. 4 spaces available to dive the Oiekast in 62 metres. Monday 22 August.  5 spaces to dive the El Kahira in 60 metres.  Tuesday 23 August.  6 spaces available to dive the Luxor in 60 metres.

Boat update.  The boat has finally passed its survey – the delay was in arranging the surveyor to view the hull out of the water at a time when the boatyard could lift it out.  That’s now been done and all I need now to begin work is the coding certificate from the certifying authority, expected mid April 2011. New stainless steel benches with teak decking are currently being fabricated  and should be ready very soon.

In anticipation that we can begin diving, I am circulating details of proposed dives on Sunday 24 April and Monday 25 April.  I’ve deliberately left out the 22nd (Good Friday) and the 24th due to big springs which precede and will just have gone through, and which will have reduced the visibility somewhat.  The 24th and 25th are neapy so vis should be better.  I am planning to do wrecks in a maximum of 40 metres and the choice is from the Azemmour, Myrtlegrove, Clarinda, Lapwing, Gallia or Coquetdale.  Cost is either £42 or £44 per head. Names to me please asap.

Excellent weekend’s diving on 24th and 25th April.  Vis was an exceptionally good 8-10 metres on the Lapwing and the next day a little less around 6 metres on the Coquetdale.  Water still chilly at 10°.  Inshore, Christchurch Ledge had vis of 3 metres.   Lovely, sunny two days diving, and a good start to the season.

Excellent vis on 29 April, diving the Clarinda, very clear water – the surface was visible from 18 metres down.  The following 3 days were blown out due to strong east/north east winds.

Forthcoming spaces:  During the week commencing Monday 9 May we’re doing some fairly gentle, easy diving inshore, nothing deeper than about 30 metres or so. We’ll be diving wrecks such as the Serrana in 18-20, Tank Landing Craft in 20, Spyros in 30 as well as shallow second dives, wreck or reef. Cost: £42 per head.  Availability: Monday 9th, 2 spaces, Tuesday 10th, 2 spaces, Wednesday 11th, 3 spaces,  Friday 13th, 4 spaces (though all these spaces have been booked provisionally but not yet confirmed). Update: Friday 13th is now full.

More spaces:  Sunday 8 May, diving the Borgny in 31 metres.  Meet 1200 to leave 1230.  Second dive included.  £42 per head. Update: Three spaces remaining for the 8th May.

Dive spaces available:  Sunday 29 May, 2 spaces to dive the Fenna in 24 metres. Second dive included.  Meet 0730 to leave 0800.  £42 per head. Monday 30 May, 1 space available to dive the armed trawler Michael Clements (offshore) in 48 metres. Meet 0700 to leave 0730.  £44 per head. Friday 3 June, 6 spaces to dive the Simla in 40 metres, plus second dive.  Meet 0915 to leave 0945.  £44 per head.  Friday 17 June, 2 spaces to dive the American tanker Y48 (offshore) in 58 metres.  Meet 0830 to leave 0900.  £46 per head.  Friday 24 June, 6 spaces to dive the German cruiser Nurnberg (offshore) in 60 metres. Meet 0715 to leave 0745.  £48 per head.  Wednesday 6 July. 5 spaces to dive the Dutch schooner Fenna in 24 metres, plus second dive.  not yet sure if we’re diving the early or late slack. £42 per head. Friday 8 July. 5 spaces to dive a 40 metre wreck, which one not yet determined but likely to be something like the Clarinda, Azemmour, Myrtlegrove, plus second dive.  Meet 0745 to leave 0815.  £42 or £44 per head depending on which wreck we dive.  Please note – for the offshore, mid Channel dives, there will be an additional charge of £5 per head if the dive remains undersubscribed.

Update re above on spaces:  Friday 3 June – 4 spaces remaining. Friday 8 July – 4 spaces remaining.  Monday 9, Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 May – 2 spaces remaining each day.

Dive reports:  The brilliant vis of last week (end of April) has been replaced by some dirty water – spring tide, strong winds and heavy rain to blame.  Low vis in the Solent on Saturday 8 May – about a metre.  Similar vis on Monday on Christchurch Ledge and the Clan Macvey, but with the tide easing towards neaps this should improve quite quickly. Dive spaces:  2 spaces available to dive the armed trawler Michael Clements in 48 metres on Monday 30 May.  £44 per head.  Meet 0700 to leave 0730. Still 2 spaces available to dive the American tanker Y48 in 58 metres on Friday 17 June.  £46 per head. Meet 0830 to leave 0900.

Dive/vis reports. Vis. improved during the week commencing Monday 9 May, with up to 10 metres recorded on the Braedale, though close inshore it’s still poor.  On the Betsy Anna on Friday a good 6 metres was had, in bright, sunny conditions.  On the Westville on Saturday, vis was again around 6 metres without a torch.  It’s just close inshore vis which is still poor.  Vis on the Serrana on Sunday was no more than 2 metres, and worse still on the War Knight.

Update on spaces:  Monday 30 May is now full. Friday 3 June – 4 spaces remaining to dive the Simla. Spaces may be available on 4/5 June, details to follow.  7 spaces available to dive the Smyrna on Thursday 9 June, though 2 of those may have gone – waiting for confirmation. 2 spaces still available on Friday 17 June to dive the Y48.  4 spaces still free to dive the Nurnberg on Friday 24 June.  4 spaces still free for the Fenna on 6 July, and 4 spaces remaining for a 40 metre wreck dive on Friday 8 July. The trip on Saturday 16 July to dive the Spyros in 30 metres now has 5 spaces available.  Meet 0945 to leave 1015.  £42 per head including a second dive.

Update on spaces: Only 3 spaces left for the Smyrna on 9 June, and 3 for the Fenna on 6 July. The Spyros trip on 16 July is now full. Fenna trip on 29 May is now full.

Spaces: I have 5 spaces to dive the Molina on Saturday 4 June, (meet 1000 to leave 1030) and 5 spaces to dive an unidentified Tank Landing Craft in 30 metres on Sunday 5 June (meet 1045 to leave 1115).  Second dive included, £42 and £44 per head respectively.  Only 2 spaces remaining for 6 July to dive the Fenna. Update on spaces: Spaces have been taken for 4/5 June.  Only 1 space remaining for the 4th, and 1 remaining for the 5th. One space left for Sunday 29 May to dive the Fenna in 24 metres.

Vis/dive reports: Dived the Tweed on 21 May.  Water colour on the way was a combination of blues, greens and browns, in patches and streaks, but although vis was poor near the surface, on the wreck it was a do-able 2-3 metres. Not great for May, and it should clear in the coming days. Water temperature has increased to about 12° and rising. Update on spaces: The weekend of 4/5 June is now full.

Vis/dive reports: During the week 23-27 May, unsettled windy weather made diving somewhat challenging for the marine archaeolgists on board.  Largely confined to the Solent, visibility was nevertheless reasonable, and improved as the week went on.  We were only able to venture past the Needles once, to dive the Venezuela, in 6-8 metres vis.  An uncharted obstruction was dived in the Solent which turned out to be a small, isolated patch of rock with one very large boulder. The weekend was blown out, but the weather had improved on BH Monday and the wreck of the Michael Clements was dived, in 10-12 metres vis.  Next day we visited the Isleworth in St Catherine’s Deep, where vis had reduced to 3 metres and dark.   June commenced with a dive on HMS Swordfish.  This is not a wreck I usually visit, but as the intention was to assess the site and report back the general state and condition of the wreck, I agreed to go there.  Very good vis of 8-10 metres was experienced.  On Friday 3rd I took a group to the Simla off St Catherine’s Point, again in good vis of 6-8 metres.  The weekend promised to be overshadowed by strong north easterlies, but in the event, these did not come to much and we dived the Molina in 6-8 metres vis on Saturday, and an unidentified Landing Craft (Tank) next day.  In topside conditions of rain and cloud, vis was reduced on the wreck but not enough to spoil the dive.   We ended the weekend on the wreck of the War Knight where again the vis was a reasonable 3-4 metres.

Dive spaces available:  Thursday 16 June. Diving an unidentified wreck in 60 metres in mid channel.  Meet 0745 to leave 0815.  5 spaces. Friday 17 June. Diving the American tanker Y48 in mid Channel.  Meet 0830 to leave 0900.  2 spaces. Sunday 19 June.  Diving the Spyros in 31 metres.  Meet 1115 to leave 1145. 2 spaces. Thursday 23 June.  Plenty of spaces to dive the Smyrna in 55 metres.  Meet 0700 to leave 0730.  Friday 24 June.  Diving the Nurnberg in 60 metres.  Meet 0715 to leave 0745.  4 spaces.  Wednesday 6 July.  Diving the Fenna in 23 metres.  Not yet sure if we’re diving the early or late tide.  2 spaces. Friday 8 July. Diving the Clarinda or Azemmour or Myrtlegrove in 40 metres.  Meet 0745 to leave 0815.  4 spaces.

Spaces update: 4 spaces remaining for 16 June, and one space left for 19 June.

Vis/dive reports, spaces update: Thursday 16 June, diving mid Channel, 4 spaces remaining. Sunday 19 June is now full.  The Smyrna dive on Thursday 23 June has 5 spaces remaining.  The Nurnberg dive on Friday 24 June has 3 spaces left.  Vis on the wreck of the Spiral/Norma (still not sure of the identity of this wreck, but probably the Norma) was a respectable 8 metres.  Some plankton in the water but plenty of ambient light at 55 metres so torches weren’t needed.

Spaces update: The Smyrna trip on 23 June has 3 spaces remaining. 5 spaces remaining for Friday 8 July.

Vis/dive reports: Much of June was blown out by unseasonally strong south-westerlies. As a result there was no diving during 12 to 24 June.  On the Round the Island Yacht Race, force 6 and 7 was blowing, but we managed to dive in the Solent on the unidentified schooner in 20 metres.  Vis was 2-3 metres –  not great, but at least everyone had a dive. Next day was much improved, with the wind dropping to nothing, and clear weather with sunshine.  Vis on the Spyros was 6-8 metres and on the War Knight around 4 metres.  For the week commencing 27 June, the boat operated from Southsea with Hampshire & Wight Trust marine archaeologists.  Apart from continuing surveying the wooden wreck of the barque Flowers of Ugie, uncharted in 10 metres, we also checked on the remains of the barque Cadeuceus in 6 metres.  Interest in more modern wrecks, but which are becoming historic as time passes, has intensified, and we dived HMS Boxer, wrecked in collision in 1918, in excellent vis of 8-10 metres.  Next the vast expanse of wreck which is the remains of the liner SS Cuba was dived in 30 metres, again in good vis.  The final two days were spent diving the U-1195, which sank the Cuba, and which herself was destroyed by our own forces following the loss of the Cuba.  During all these dives, measurements and drawings were recorded and photographs taken. On the weekend of 2 and 3 July, the wrecks of the Londonier (sunk 1918) and the Empire Crusader (wrecked 1940) were dived.  Vis close to the surface was good but quickly reduced before improving again in the last 10 metres of water, and was a respectable 6 metres.  Seas were flat and the weather sunny.  However, right on cue another depression has swept in from the Atlantic, and dives on 6, 7 and July were lost.

Forthcoming dives: I have 2 spare days on which we’ll try for the following: Thursday 28 July, to dive an unidentified Tank Landing Craft in 30 metres.  £44 per head, including a second dive. Meet 0700 to leave 0730.  Friday 29 July, diving the Smyrna in 55 metres.  Meet 0700 to leave 0730. £46 per head. Update on spaces: 4 spaces left for the Tank Landing Craft on 28 July, and 6 spaces remaining for the Smyrna dive the next day (correct as of 9 July).

Vis/dive reports: Poor weather continues, with dives blown out, but when we can get out there the vis has been good. Very good conditions were had in mid July, during which we think we have located the wreck of the steam tug Security which disappeared in a gale in 1946.  Excellent visibility of around 8 metres was had on the Oriflamme, just south of St Catherine’s Lighthouse, and similar conditions were found on the Britannia and the South Western.  After more days blown out, the marine archaeologists from Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology continued their survey of the Venezuela, photographing, drawing and measuring various features.  On the wreck of the German U-boat U480, conditions were a little dark but visibility was excellent, while the archeaologists were back for more diving on the wreck of the Londonier.  Three days were spent drawing, measuring and photographing, as part of an ongoing project.  Towards the end of July, excellent visibility of 12 metres was had on the wreck of an unidentified tank landing craft, and we finally managed to reach the wreck of the Smyrna for the first time in 2011 – we’d had the previous 3 attempts blown out.  Bristol’s Dive Monkey Club came down for the weekend at the very end of July, when we dived the Fenna and Venezuela in good conditions. Unsettled weather continued into August but we were able to take advantage of a weather window to dive the wreck of the Eleanor in 40 metres. On the following neap tide, which produces the best vis of the year, the weather intervened yet again and we were confined to the Solent with archaeologists, investigating anomolies and diving Bouldner cliff in preparation for a project in September.

Vis/dive reports: August diving has followed this summer’s trend of unsettled weather, with more days lost to strong winds.  In between low pressure systems, we’ve been back out to the Clarinda in 40 metres, dived the Warwick Deeping in 36 metres, but the best diving of the month was on the wreck of the American tanker Y48, where vis was 15 metres and light.  This is a mid Channel wreck but the long steam is worth it.  Next day we dived the Admiralty armed trawler Michael Clements in 48 metres, followed by the El Kahira, another offshore wreck in 60 metres, where vis was again in the region of 15 metres and light.  Nekton Sub Aqua Club visited for three days, diving the Spyros (where a 15lbs turbot was brought up), Warwick Deeping and Simla.  Inshore dives included the War Knight, Joannis Millas, and a drift across Atherfield Ledge, where the remains of 3 wrecks were found.  Scallops, crabs and flatfish were found on a Solent drift, to complete 3 days successful diving. August Bank Holiday was something of a let-down, with strong winds again, but an excellent dive was had on the WW1 Norwegian steamer Cuba in 42 metres.  Divers had to enter the water before slack, as the tide had turned strongly before their bottom times were completed.  Vis was a little disappointing at 3-4 metres, but that’s St Catherine’s on a spring tide.  The beginning of September looks quite good, but yet another depresssion is due, ruining an excellent set of neaps which are due. That’ll be the third set of neaps in a row destroyed by the weather.

Dive spaces: I have spaces to dive the Fenna on Sunday 4 September, meet 0730 to leave 0800.  £42 per head.  Also 4 spaces to dive the Iduna on Saturday 10 September.  Meet 0715 to leave 0745.  £44 per head.

Vis/dive reports: The Fenna dive on 4 September went ahead, despite poor vis, followed by a training exercise in Alum Bay.  From Monday 5 September, a large depression crossed the country, bringing very strong winds, but we managed to dive 4 days out of 5 in the Solent at Bouldnor, recovering samples from the 8000 year old site of human habitation, in 11 metres.  Vis was, as expected following such unsettled weather, quite poor, ranging from less than half a metre to about a metre and a half.  Despite this, all objectives were achieved.  The weekend of 10/11 September was blown out, as was the weekend of 17/18 September.

Forthcoming dive spaces: I have spaces to dive the WW1 wreck of the steamer Cuba in 42 metres on Wednesday 21 September.  £44 per head, one dive, meeting at 0745 and departing at 0815. I may also have spaces for Sunday 2 October – diving a wreck as yet undetermined in 35-40 metres.  I may also have spaces to dive the Warwick Deeping and War Knight on Friday 7 October.  Meet 1130 to leave 1215.  £42 per head.

Spaces update: The Cuba dive was cancelled – strong winds again.  The dive on the Ajax on Saturday 8 October is now full.  Only 2 spaces remaining for the dive on the Empire Crusader on Sunday 9 October.

Spaces update: Weekend of 8/9 October is full.  Spaces available to dive a wreck in the mid 30’s on Sunday 2 October – probably the Braedale in 36 metres. Meet 1115.  £42 per head.  Spaces also available to dive the Smyrna in 55 metres on Saturday 22 October.  Meet 0930 to leave 1000.  £46 per head.  Spaces to dive the Lapwing in 40 metres on Sunday 23 October.  Meet 1100 to leave 1130.  On both these days it’s one dive only.

Vis/dive reports: Dived the Londonier with Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology on 22 and 23 September.  Despite a good forecast, the first day was rough but the vis was around 8 metres and some good footage was taken of the stern section and gun.  Next day the midships area was filmed.  We also had a look for a cannon site, known to be in a particular area, and though the vis was good at 6 metres nothing was found.  Perhaps this is not surprising as trying to conduct a circular search among rock ledges and gullies was somewhat challenging.  A search with the magnetometer should locate the site precisely.  12 metres vis was experienced on the mid Channel wreck of the Nurnberg on Saturday 24th, and though we intended to venture offshore the next day, the plan was changed due to the wind forecast to dive the Sargasso in 43 metres.  That meant a fairly early start, but the vis was good at around 6 or 7 metres.  It turned out  to be a good decision to dive the early tide as the wind strengthened, and fortunately we didn’t have far to run to reach shelter.

Spaces update: Only 2 spaces remaining for each of the days of 22 and 23 October, diving the Smyrna and Lapwing respectively.

Spaces update:  The weekend of 22 and 23 October is now full.

Vis/dive reports: Dived the Warwick Deeping on 15 October on a warm, sunny day with a flat sea.  Nice vis without a torch at 5-6 metres, followed by a dive off Brook in some rough ground, also with good vis of around 3-4 metres.  Next day, expecting better vis further offshore on the Empire Crusader, we passed through the clear water which extended 7 or 8 miles offshore, into less clear water, where the vis was 3-4 metres.  Despite this, the bridge bell was recovered, bearing the former name of the ship, Leander. The weekend of 22/23 October has been cancelled due to strong winds forecast.

Spaces: We’ll try one more time to go offshore on 5 and 6 November.  Very good tide, so we’ll aim for the Smyrna (meet 0900 to leave 0930) and the Lapwing (meet 1015 to leave 1045). Names to me please.