A Days Diving from Wight Spirit

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Diving Reports from 2010

Saturday 10 April 2010.  First dip of the season.  Glorious sunny day, flat sea. Dived the Venezuela.  Vis about 2 metres, but everyone just wanted to get wet and enjoyed the dive.

Thursday 22 and Friday 23 April 2010.  Working with marine archaeologists from the New Forest National Park Authority.  Diving the Margaret Smith and Serrana in the western Solent.   Wrecks buoyed in preparation for surveying and monitoring.  Poor vis on low water slack but better at 2 metres on the flood tide. Clear sunny days with a light chilly breeze.

Saturday 24 April 2010.  Dived the Dumfries.  Depth between 43 and 53 metres – this is a big wreck.  On the way to the site, inshore vis looked quite good, but within a few miles of the Needles and up to 20 miles offshore, vis was very poor, but the water cleared when about half a mile from the wreck and vis was about 6 metres.  Wall to wall sunshine and a flat sea.

Sunday 25 April 2010.  Dived the Smyrna in 55 metres.  Superb dive, 10 metres vis without a torch.  Sea temperature hovering around 8/9 degrees.  Bright sunny afternoon with a south westerly slop on the way home.

Dive spaces as follows:

Sunday 30 May 2010. Diving the WW1 Danish steamer Inger in 55 metres.  Upright but broken. 2 spaces.

Sunday 20 June 2010. Diving the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres.  Large wreck, more or less upright.  Impressive dive. 2 spaces.

Monday 28 June 2010. Diving the WW1 British steamer Isleworth in 70 metres.  Upright and unusually intact wreck.  7 spaces.

Tuesday 29 June 2010. Diving the Isleworth in 70 metres,  2 spaces.

Sunday 25 July 2010. Diving the WWII American tanker Y48 in 58 metres.  More or less upright and largely intact. 3 spaces.

Monday 9 August 2010.  Diving the Isleworth in 70 metres.  6 spaces.

Tuesday 10 August. Diving the Isleworth again.  4 spaces.

Other news – I have installed new software to the sidescan which enables us to see what is beneath the boat as well as to the sides.  Should help to pinpoint those small, uncharted targets…

Early May Bank Holiday weekend – poor forecasts, big tides and planned offshore sites didn’t mix, so it’s a weekend off.

Dive spaces for those who want deeper dives – Friday 28 May 2010 to dive a wreck thought to be the Hilda Lea lost in WW1.  She’s lying in 82 metres.  Substantial wreck lying on her side.  Plenty of spaces available.  Also, Monday 12 July 2010, we’ll be diving an unknown, uncharted wreck in 79 metres.  No idea what it is – 3 spaces available.

Dive spaces weekend 8/9 May 2010. I have 1 space to dive the WW2 wreck of the Terlings on Saturday 8 May 2010.  Essentially, this is a 40 metre dive but the determined might find 45 metres in the scour amidships.  Second dive included – at £40 per head for the day.  Meet 1000 to leave 1030.  Next day, Sunday 9 May, I have 3 spaces to dive the 1885 wreck of the steamer Clarinda in 40 metres.  Nice open dive.  Second dive included for £42 per head for the day.  Meet 1045 to leave 1115.

News – during the first week of May, 4 wrecks were buoyed by the marine archaeology department of the New Forest National Park Authority.  The aim is to raise awareness of our underwater heritage and to make it easier for divers to access these wrecks.  They are the Margaret Smith, the Serrana (stern section), the Fenna and a wreck which may be the Ceres.   On the weekend of 8/9 May 2010, we dived the WW2 wreck of the SS Terlings and the 1917 wreck of the Westville.  Good vis but dark – the inshore water was clearer.  This is almost certainly due to plankton blooms.  During the week of 10-14 May, Southdown Divers had an excellent week, diving 2 dives every day, ranging from the Serrana, Fenna, Molina, Spyros and Venezuela.  Vis after the neap tides was quite good, though a bitterly cold north wind made it feel more like March.

Dive spaces are available as follows:  Saturday 22 May 2010, diving the Spyros in 30 metres.  Excellent dive, upright and fairly intact.  Second dive included.  5 spaces available. £40 per head.  Meet -0945 to leave 1015.  Sunday 23 May 2010, diving the Molina in 35 metres.  Another good dive, upright but broken.  A lot stands up from midships (engines and boilers) to the bows.  Second dive included.  2 spaces available. £40 per head.  Meet 1000 to leave 1030.

Water temperature. After a long, cold winter, it’s not surprising the sea temperature is low – when we started the 2010 season in April it was 8° and now towards the end of May it’s around 10/11°.  That’s still chilly, though inshore in shallower water it’s a couple of degrees higher than that.  Vis is improving and to depths of about 40 metres torches aren’t necessary.  Plankton off the Wight is best described as light and patchy at the moment – but vis has been good below the plankton layer.  Still a few spaces this weekend, 22 and 23 May, for anyone wanting to fill last minute spaces…

News – the downward looking operation of the side scan has proved it’s worth – up to a point (no treasure yet) – by pinpointing very small targets identified through images from the side scan.  The image shown is better than a conventional echo sounder/sonar and gives a depth of field not shown on echo sounders.   We’ve been investigating various anomalies in the Solent and so far have only come up with modern debris – with lots more to survey.

Dive reports for the weekend 22 and 23 May 2010.  Diving inshore on the wrecks of the Spyros and Molina.  Vis a bit disappointing for the time of year at 3-5 metres, though a few miles further off and the vis is around 8-10 metres.  It was a neap weekend so the vis should have cleared, but clouds of inshore plankton have reduced water clarity.   Better vis over Christchurch Ledge, drifting on the flood tide.

Spaces for Friday 28 May – due to insufficient numbers for the 82 metre dive, the wreck has been changed to the steamer Kong Guttorm, lying in 55 metres.  Anyone interested please let me know.

Bank Holiday weekend of 29/30/31 May 2010 was poor.  Blown out on Saturday and Sunday, we dived the Pandion in 38 metres on Monday.  Glorious day, warm and sunny with a flat sea.  Vis disappointing at about 4 metres, probably as a result of the south westerly 8 we had on Saturday and the 6 on Sunday.  Divers reported the vis was not due to plankton but particles stirred up in the water.

Dive reports for 3 and 4 June 2010, working with marine archaeologists for the New Forest National Park Authority.  Dives have been conducted on some anomalies found by the side scan.  A new wreck was dived – an upside down GRP pleasure boat, 6 metres long.  The side scan showed the shape of the vessel and confirmation came when divers examined the wreck.  Unseasonal poor visibility in the western Solent restricted activities somewhat, but further survey work has been carried out on the wreck of the Fenna.  A fisherman’s snag was dived and further work will follow – some debris indicating an old wreck was located.

Dive spaces Saturday 12 June 2010, diving the WW1 wreck of the Westville in 40 metres (up to 43 metres can be found just off the wreck). 4 spaces available.  £40 per head including second dive.  Sunday 13 June 2010.  Diving the WW1 wreck of the Mendi in 40 metres.  Second dive included.  £42 per head. 3 spaces available.

Dive reports – dived the wreck of the Lapwing on Saturday 5 June.  Excellent neap and calm, bright conditions, with vis around 8 metres.  Second dive was a drift across The Bridge. Sunday 6 June saw us diving the Dutch schooner Fenna wrecked in 1881 followed by a nice drift dive east of Yarmouth.  Strong south westerlies force 5/6 prevented diving elsewhere.

Dive spaces: The Mendi trip is now full but 4 spaces remain to dive the Westville on Saturday 12 June (for details see above).

More dive spaces: 3 spaces now left for the Westville (see above).  I am trying to put together a trip to dive the Daylesford in 46 metres on Tuesday 15 June.  £44 per head.  Meet 0930 to leave 1000 hours.

Update re spaces: The position keeps changing re spaces for 12 and 13 June – the latest is I have one 4 spaces available to dive the Westville and onw space to dive the Mendi.  Details as above remain the same.

Dive reports: Working with marine archaeologists in the Solent during the week 7-11 June 2010.  Vis quite good on the flood tide, around 3-4 metres, allowing further survey work to be carried out prior to raising exposed 8000 year old timbers. Very extensive site of human habitation, with evidence of worked timbers and flint tools.

Dive reports: Dived the Westville on Saturday 12 June, and had excellent visibility of around 10 metres, with no torch need at 40 metres depth.  This large wreck stands up 8 or 9 metres, lying across the tide.  Next day, on Sunday, we dived the Mendi.  Vis still good but plankton had reduced it to around 5 metres, but still good enough for photographers to take some nice shots.

Dive spaces: I’m putting a trip together to dive the wreck of the clipper ship Smyrna in 53-55 metres on Tuesday 19 July 2010.  Superb dive on this iron ship, still a substantial wreck with lots of cargo.  Neap tide, so the vis should be good, and we’ll have a long slack. Meet 0830 to leave 0900.  Cost will be around £44 per head depending on how many sign up for the dive. Names to me please.

Dive spaces: Re the proposed Smyrna dive – now only 1 space left.

Dive spaces: The Smyrna dive is now full. Other proposed forthcoming dives, where spaces are available, are:  Tuesday 13 July 2010, diving the Daylesford in 46 metres.  Good dive with plenty to see.  Tuesday 17 August 2010, diving the Nurnberg.  Large, substantial wreck lying mid Channel in about 60 metres.  Friday 24 September 2010, diving the Barbara/Hilda Lea, lying in mid Channel in 82 metres. Names to me please.

Dive reports: Over the weekend 19/20 June 2010, dived the Vera in 46 metres.  Nice vis at 6 metres, with some huge congers in the wreck, including three big ones in the boiler with their heads poking out.  Next day, we went mid Channel and dived the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres. Terrific dive with at least 10 metres vis, and just not enough time to stay down and see more of the wreck.

Dive reports: Dived with marine archaeologists for the week 21-25 June in Alum Bay near the Needles,  surveying and excavating the bow section of the wooden warship HMS Pomone.  Much to everyone’s surprise, a great deal more wreckage lies beneath the seabed than was first thought.  A substantial area was cleared using water dredges, revealing well preserved timbers and fittings.  We’ll need another 4 weeks of continuous work to uncover the rest.  The excavated areas were surveyed, drawn and photographed before being backfilled with sandbags.

Dive reports: During the weekend of 26/27 June 2010, we dived the Spyros in 30 metres and had 7-8 metres vis, but vis on the War Knight for the second dive was unusually poor for June.  Next day, diving the armed WWII trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres, 10 metres vis was reported in bright conditions.  A second dive was a drift across Christchurch Ledge.

Dive reports: On 28 and 29 June a small group dived the WWI wreck of the Isleworth in 70 metres.  Lying in St Catherine’s Deep, this is a challenging dive with a brief window of slack water – after 25 minutes the tide turned, but vis was 6 metres and conditions on the wreck were somewhat dark – hardly surprising given the location of the wreck.  We drifted almost 3 miles while divers decompressed.

Dive reports: On 30 June and 1 and 2 July 2010, marine archaeologists from the New Forest National Park Authority have been on board conducting further surveys on the wrecks of the Fenna and Serrana, as well as repositioning wreck buoys which had become detached.  Vis on the Fenna was particularly good – around 8-10 metres – and some excellent footage of the wreck has been obtained.  Similarly, more footage has been obtained of the stern section of the Serrana, with vis there in the Needles Channel around 3-4 metres.  The water temperature at long last has climbed up to 15/16°.

Dive reports: Saturday 3 July 2010 saw us diving a ‘reverse profile’ due to the times of slack water.  The morning’s dip was a nice gentle drift on the flood tide across Christchurch Ledge, with lots of life to see, followed by the Venezuela in 28 metres, with vis around 6-8 metres.  Sunday’s offshore trip had to be cancelled due to strong winds.

Dive reports: During the first week of July 2010, working with marine archaeologists, we conducted survey and photographic work on the historic wreck sites of HMS Impregnable, HMS Velox, HMS Hazardous and the elusive sailing barque Caduceus.  Caduceus was located using the side scan sonar, as it is not in its charted position.  Many artefacts are lying in 6 metres of water, and a preliminary plan of the wreck siter has been commenced. The week was blessed with good visibility on all sites, which are close inshore.

Dive reports: Over the weekend of 10 and 11 July 2010, the First World War wrecks of the Londonier and Tweed were dived.  Very thick fog almost prevented diving on the Londonier, but everyone came up the shot and decompressed together.  Vis was an excellent 10 metres despite the gloomy topside conditions.  A much brighter day on the Tweed also produced excellent vis, allowing for some very good underwater shots of the wreck to be taken.

Dive spaces: Three spaces available to dive the wreck of the Braedale in 35 metres.  Due to the time of slack water, those who want a second dive will be able to do it before the main dive.  We’ll meet at 0830 to leave 0900, enabling a good interval between dives – at least 3 hours.  We’ll keep the shallow dive less than 10 metres.  £40 per head.

Dive spaces – as above for the Braedale – just one space remaining.

Dive reports: The good weather and busy season continues.  Mid Channel on 12 July with 15 metres vis, but the target turned out to be an isolated rock which had every appearance of being a wreck.  The next day we returned to the Daylesford, enjoying 10 metres vis. Poor weather with a severe south west gale force 9 prevented diving until 18 July, but conditions were worse than predicted and the day was aborted.  However,  responding to a request for help to locate a recently sunk vintage yacht off Cowes, the vessel was located and has since been raised.  On 20 July 2010,  a group dived the wreck of the Smyrna in flat, sunny conditions, with 12 metres vis resulting in an excellent dive.  On the following three days, marine archaeologists continued to survey the wreck of the Fenna and to investigate potential sites.  A particularly promising site was dived, where the side scan had shown a wreck-like feature, which proved to be local geology in the shape of the outline of a ship. A new target was located west of the Needles which seems to be a large landing draft.  Though broken, the bow ramp stands quite high and is a distinctive structure.  More need to be done on this wreck to see how much remains on the seabed.

Dive reports: Excellent vis over the weekend of 24/25 July was experienced on the wrecks of the Iduna in 40 metres off St Catherine’s Point and on the American tanker Y48 in mid Channel, where vis was 15 metres, complete with huge free swimming congers.  A large, lost trawl net is snagged on the wreck amidships, but is not a problem when the vis is so good. 

Dive and vis reports: During the week 26-30 July, we were diving in the 40 metre range, and went to the Clarinda, Londonier and Daylesford.  In addition, two new identifications were made.  First, we dived a wreck which had been usually buried in sand, but when the side scan showed it was exposed, we decided to take a look at it.  A large iron wreck was found, lying across the tide, largely uncovered.  A check through my archives indicates this is almost certainly the wreck of the steamer Saxmundham, lost in collision in 1888. Nothing was found to prove the identity of the wreck, so we’ll dive it again as long as the huge sand wave next to the wreck stays where it is.  This obviously moves backwards and forwards across the wreck site, so it’s pot luck whether the wreck will be clear or not.  Secondly, we’ve identified the wreck of the steamer South Western sunk in 1918, from cutlery recovered marked L & SWR (london & South Western Railway).  This wreck isn’t where I thought it was, but at least we now have a positive identification.  Vis all week was 7-10 metres.

Dive and vis reports: Saturday 31 July saw us going to the Smyrna.  Everyone had a great dive with 10 metres vis, and wanting to go back for more.  Next day vis was slightly less on the inshore wreck of the Braedale, at around 6-7 metres.

Dive and vis reports: For the week 2-6 August, marine archaeologists were aboard.  With one of the best neap tides of the year, vis was excellent all week, between 8-15 metres.  We dived the wreck of what we think is the Saxmundham and measured the length at just over 90 metres, which corresponds to the Saxmundham’s overall length of 91 metres.  Some superb video footage was shot, which will appear on the wreck page in due course.  We also dived the Azemmour, and took a BBC crew to the wreck of the Coquetdale, in connection with a programme to be broadcast on 20 August 2010 about the Battle of Britain.  Despite overcast conditions, more excellent quality video footage was obtained, which apart from being broadcast by the BBC, will appear on the wreck page shortly.  The highlight of the week was a visit to the Smyrna, in bright conditions.  A team descended a completely vertical shotline, placed at the bows, and some wonderfully clear video footage was taken in almost tropical visibility.  The final day was restricted to the Solent due to strong winds.

Dive spaces: Due to demand, I’m putting together a trip to the wreck of the Smyrna, a classic late 19th century clipper ship – a rare type of wreck.  She’s out in the clear water, and we’ll be diving HW slack – the date is Friday 24 September 2010.  Price based on 10 divers is £44 per head.  I’ll go with fewer divers but it’ll be a few pounds per head dearer.  Any takers? Meet 0745 to leave 0815.  Latest: As of 10 August this trip is now full.

Dive & vis reports: Dived LCT 809 in 21 metres on Sunday 8 August, in excellent vis of 10 metres, followed by a second dive on the War Knight.  Reduced vis here, as is common, but still 3 metres and light.  Next day, we went back to the Isleworth in St Catherine’s Deep.  Building towards big springs, vis was reduced but easily 5-6 metres with a torch.

Dive spaces: I have the following spaces:  Saturday 25 September.  Four spaces available, depth not exceeding 35 metres (except one wreck, which, if we dive it, is 36 metres to the seabed . Choose from: Spyros (31), Borgny (31), Braedale (35), Witte Zee (33), Warwick Deeping (36), New Dawn (33), LCT (30), Asborg (30). Meet 0930 to leave by 10. Times may be adjusted depending on which wreck we dive. Sunday26 September.  Three spaces available. Similar choice of wreck, meet 1030 to leave 1100.  Cost £40 per head but it will be £42 if we dive the Asborg.

Latest info re spaces above as of 11 August – 2 spaces remaining for each of the two days, 25 and 26 September 2010.

Dive & vis reports: Weekend of 14/15 August saw us diving the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Braatt II in 40 metres.  Following a huge spring tide, vis was a little better than expected at 2-3 metres, but with no ambient light, and a short slack.  Divers went down during the last of the flood tide, which was going the other way again after 25 minutes. The ebb tide was running at 2 knots while divers were decompressing.  Next day, in an effort to get better vis, we dived the 1889 wreck of the steamer Cleddy, west of St Catherine’s Point.  With the tide heading down towards neaps, we had better vis of 4 metres in ambient light, and a longer slack.

Dive space: One space available to dive the wreck of the Borgny in 31 metres on Saturday 18 September.  Meet 1100 to leave 1130, ready to dive at 1345.  Second dive for those who want it. £40 per head.

Spaces update: Only one space remaining for the weekend of 25/26 September 2010.

Dive & vis reports: Windy conditions on 18/19/20 August saw us confined to the western Solent, but the vis was good and we were able to dive some Solent wrecks, as well as completing drift dives during which fragments of Roman pottery were found, and artefacts not seen before from the Needles protected wreck sites were located – though all diving was outside the restricted area. On Sunday 22 August, while diving the Warwick Deeping in 12 metres vis, some superb video film was taken, which will appear on the ‘wrecks’ page in due course. During the following week, the First World War steamers Azemmour and Londonier were dived, but very overcast skies meant that underwater visibility was reduced.  The poor vis continued over the Bank Holiday weekend, with about 2 metres on the Simla  and even less on the Tweed. Visibility further west of St Catherine’s was much better.  Additional work has been completed on the buoys marking the wrecks of the Margaret Smith and the stern section of the Serrana.  The Margaret Smith buoy, which was snagged by lost ropes, has been freed, and the buoy and that on the Serrana are now illuminated.

Dive & vis reports: During September we intended to dive LCT 809 but poor vis following the huge spring tide which had just gone through, coupled with rough seas, meant we had to find an alternative site.  We investigated an unidentified, uncharted site which turned out to be a 36 metre long wooden sailing vessel, partly buried but with plenty exposed.  A preliminary archaeological survey has been conducted but with vis at 1-2 metres the site plan has yet to be completed. Much more work needs to be carried out to produce a comprehensive plan and of course to try to identify the ship.  On Saturday 18th we dived the wreck of the Borgny and anticipated good vis to co-incide with a very good neap tide, but were disappointed with only 2 metres vis on the low water slack.  Despite this, everyone had a good dive.  This was followed by a drift on the flood tide, where visibility was better, drifting from the Needles to the north east.

Dive spaces: There may be spaces to dive the wreck of the paddle steamer Normandy on Sunday 14 November.  If you’re interested let me know and I’ll pass details to the organiser.

Dive & vis reports:  On the weekend of 25/26 September 2010 we dived the wrecks of the Spyros and Braedale.  Spyros vis was about 2 metres but those with good torches had a good dive.  Being further offshore, the Braedale was a better dive with 5 metres vis.  Inshore, on a spring tide and following Friday’s gale, vis was too poor to bother with a second dive.  During the week 27 to 30 September 2010, we’ve been diving from Langstone on the wreck of the Landing Craft (Tank) 2428, and the two tanks and 2 armoured bulldozers which fell from LCT2428 when it capsized.  LCT2428 was due to take part in the D Day landings but developed a leak and after capsizing she was sunk by the tug Jaunty as she was a hazard to navigation.  The two sites have been surveyed, measured and photographed by marine archaeologists.  Low water vis was about 2 metres but as the week progressed and the tide dropped away, it gradually improved to 4 metres.  On Saturday 2 October we dived the Borgny on a very good neap tide with a calm sea.  This wreck is full of life with plenty of fish and shellfish seen.

Dive spaces: Only one space remaining to dive the Normandy on 14 November.

Dive spaces:  The boat is now full for the Normandy trip.

Dive & vis reports: The weekend of 16 and 17 October saw us go back to the Venezuela with 4-5 metres vis, followed by the Joannis Millas in, well, less than memorable vis!  On the Sunday we dived the Lapwing and the vis was better with ambient light, and warm, sunny skies and flat seas made it very pleasant.  On Monday and Tuesday, taking advantage of very good neaps and good weather, we returned to the unidentified sailing ship in the Solent. More diving has revealed that a great deal of the wreck is there, including the bilge pumps complete with double handle wheels, the keelson is visible and the windlass has fallen to starboard.  A base line has been laid and measurements and sketches commenced.  On low water slack in bright sunshine, vis was about 3 metres – it won’t be that good again until May 2011!  We still do not know the identity of this interesting wreck.

Dive & vis reports: The season continues to run, taking advantage of good tides and weather over the weekend of 30/31 October.  We’ve dived the unidentified wooden schooner in Solent vis of 2-3 metres.  It’s been dark but good with a torch.  Further measurements have been taken and a site plan is beginning to take shape – but we’re no nearer in naming the wreck.