Diving Reports from 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Diving Reports from 2014

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

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.