Introduction

NEWLY PUBLISHED BOOK AVAILABLE NOW! Supplement to South Coast Shipwrecks off East Dorset & Wight 1870 – 1979

Wight Spirit Diving Charters, operating from the western Solent port of Lymington, offers some of the best south coast diving.  We provide dive sites to suit all tastes, from scenic drift dives to many wrecks, whether shallow, intermediate or deep, and from warships to tramp steamers, motor ships to sailing ships, and pretty much everything in between.  The shallowest wreck is in 5 metres, and the deepest is in 95 metres, with a huge selection of seldom dived wrecks in the 30 to 50 metres range.  See the ‘Wrecks’ page for full details – and don’t forget to buy your copy of South Coast Shipwrecks off East Dorset & Wight 1870-1979. If you’re living or staying on the Isle of Wight – I pick up and drop off at Yarmouth at no extra charge.

Isle of Wight diving is popular, and frequently visited sites include the steamer Spyros in 31 metres, the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres, and the armed steam trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres, all largely intact wrecks, to mention just three.  If you want something shallower, the schooner Fenna lies in 23 metres, the stern section of the Serrana is in 18-20 metres and the Betsy Anna is in 27 metres.  Particularly good wrecks in the 40 metre range include the steamers Tweed, Iduna, Clarinda, all in 40 metres maximum, or the Daylesford in 46 metres. Venturing further offshore to mid Channel, where underwater visibility has exceeded 30 metres on occasions, we’ll take you to wrecks such as the motor vessel Guernsey Coast, upright and intact, standing 13 metres in 62 metres, or the German light cruiser Nurnberg, a very substantial wreck standing 12 metres in 62 metres.  Or visit the 19th century wreck of the clipper ship Smyrna, between 53 and 57 metres, a particular favourite of mine.  Then there’s numerous other wrecks seldom visited and well worth diving.  Popular second dives on wrecks include the steamer War Knight in 13 metres and the steamer Joannis Millas in 6-8 metres, both diveable out of the tide.  If you like scenic reef and drift dives, Christchurch Ledge is a good choice, abounding in life, or Brook and Atherfield Ledges and rocks, ledges and reefs at Rocken End, the locations for numerous wrecks from the days of sail.  Indeed, this part of the Isle of Wight coast was once known as the Receiver General for wrecks of the Isle of Wight.  Drifting at the foot of Tennyson Down provides rocks, gullies, pinnacles and overhangs, and to add to the mystery there’s a chance you’ll drift across the remains of Whitehead torpedoes from the torpedo testing which took place here.

Underwater visibility is variable just as it is elsewhere, but from May to October during settled weather and good tides, inshore visibility of 5 to 8 metres is usual.  Offshore, 10 to 20 metres can be expected, though of course sometimes the visibilty is better than this, and sometimes not quite as good.  Although the plankton bloom arrives in late May, it is seldom as bad as further west.

Our season runs from April through to about mid January, though from late October onwards we need to go offshore for clearer water, taking advantage of the days when tides and weather are most favourable.  That’s also true for April except on exceptionally good neap tides – and typically this means diving wrecks in 40 metres, with limited options for second dives close inshore due to visibility. The inshore water clears in the first week of May, when so-called black water arrives from the west – called black because overnight the water colour changes from green to having a black appearance because it is so clear.

You’ll find plenty of parking very close to the pontoons where you’re picked up, and you’ll be greeted with tea and coffee on arrival.  A general and safety briefing is given after you’ve boarded and assembled your gear, before departure to the dive site.  For sheer variety of dive sites and some spectacular scenery of the west and southern Isle of Wight coasts,  Wight Spirit Diving Charters offers something for everyone in what is probably the least dived part of the English Channel.

Feel free to contact me for a chat or more information – landline/home: 02380 270 390 (ansaphone – if I’m not there, leave a message and I’ll call you back).  Mobile:  07833 610623 or e-mail wightspirit@btinternet.com

Dive/vis reports and dive spaces 2024

Dive/vis reports: The season has begun despite the grey, dreary weather. We began in the Solent, just off Beaulieu, diving with sea grass researchers on Tuesday 16 April and Wednesday 17 April. Visibility, despite the very good neap, was entirely forgetable at less than half a metee. However, the very next day the water had cleared to a much better 2-3 metres, with the water temperature around 10 degrees.

Dive/vis reports: Saturday 4 May and it’s a bright sunny day with a light breeze from the south-east. We headed off to dive the 1872 wreck of the steamer Lapwing in 40 metres. Vis inshore looked very good, but as we headed some miles south of the Needles, we entered the browny/green water, probably coming from the St Catherine’s area. However, continuing south the water cleared again and we arrived on site. Slack came slightly early but everyone entered the water and enjoyed vis of 5-6 metres in ambient light, though a torch was useful. Plankton is throughout the entire water column but not bad, with the water temperature at 11-12 degrees. The good news is that the May water, also known in these parts as black water (because it is so clear it looks black) has come early, perhaps a good indication we might have a good season. Next day, Sunday 5 May, we were diving in Totland Bay, conducting training and safety drills, in particular, practising recovering incapacited divers from the water to the boat. This proved to be a very worthwhile day as everyone learned quite a lot about what to do and what not to do.

Dive spaces. There are 3 spaces available to dive the 1885 wreck of the steamer Messina in 50 metres on Friday 17 May. Contact the organiser, Jay, on depth.hound@googlemail.com. There are 4 spaces available to dive the WW1 steam tanker Wapello in 33 metres on Saturday 25 May. Contact the organiser, Jaki, on wilson.jaki19@sky.com

Dive spaces: Jaki on wilson.jaki19@sky.com is organising dives on Friday 7 June and Friday 28 June. Wreck in 30 metres or less. Please contact her for details.

Dive/vis reports: On Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May, we were diving Bouldnor cliff with marine archaeologists. Low water vis on both days, was as expected – low, but the flood tide brought in clearer water to give vis of 2-3 metres. However, the plankton is quite thick this year and thus it was somewhat darker under water. On Friday 17 May we headed offshore to the south-west with another group to dive the wreck of the steamer Messina in 50 metres. Smooth seas and no wind meant a pleasant ride out, and with a superb neap tide we were able to get in the water slightly early. Vis in ambient light was 4-5 metres, with plankton affecting the entire water column. the good news is that the water seems clear of silt, so it’s just the plankton to contend with. This should die back in the next 10 days or so and we then ought to have clear water. Next day, on Saturday 18 May, we again headed west off St Albans Head to dive an unidentified wreck in 50 metres. Similar vis but slightly cloudy topsides meant it was somewhat dark on the wreck. Finally, on Sunday 19 May we dived closer inshore as the slack water was quite late, and dive the WW1 steamer Fluent in 40 metres. On site, the water had a distinctly green hue, and with the plankton thicker and all the way to the bottom, vis was reduced to about 2 metres – diasppointing, to say the least. Water temperature is still hovering around 12°. Three days of calm seas on light winds – now we just want the vis to come good.

Dive/vis reports 2023

The season has kicked off – slightly later than usual during this cold and unsettled spring. The first two dives for late March and mid-April were lost to strong winds. However, the weekend of 29 and 30 April were ideal. With probably the smallest neap of the year, giving long slack water, good vis was anticipated but in the event it wasn’t fantastic – around 2-3 metres with a torch, but slightly better than usual for april in this area. Firstly, on Saturday 29 April we dived the wreck of the Spyros in 30 metres. There was a slightly uncomfortable south-eastlery breeze but the weather otherwise was fair and bright. Everyone entered the water and completed the dive without incident. We followed this with a shallow dive on the 1811 wreck, or at least, part of it which is not protected, in Alum Bay, where the vis was similar but being shallow at 8 metres, much brighter. Next day, Sunday 30 April, we headed south of the Needles to dive the 1885 wreck of the Victorian steamer Clarinda in 40 metres. Vis was similar to the day before, though we had cloudy skies and rain, but as a shake-down dive, pretty good.

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces available on Sunday 28 May and BH Monday 29 May, maximum depth 35 metres. Plenty of choice for wrecks. Second dive included either shallow wreck, drift or reef dive. Excellent neap tide which ought to give good vis. Civilised meet/leave times. Ping me an email for details.

Dive/vis reports: Another good neap tide on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May, but strong winds and unreliable inshore vis meant it was prudent to scrub the Saturday. However, Sunday was another day, with no wind, flat seas and an anticipation that the clear May water had reached us. Indeed, within a couple of miles of the Needles the water went from green/brown to black, an indication of its excellent clarity. We headed south-west to the WW1 wreck of the large steamer Fluent in 40 metres. Despite a grey, overcast sky, vis was around 6 metres though divers reported that descending at 30 metres, torchlight could be seen on the wreck 10 metres below. There’s some stringy plankton in the water column but it hasn’t really bloomed just yet. Water temperature is hovering around 11/12°. If only we’d had bright sunlight. On Wednesday 17 May we had an early start in order to dive HW slack at the Bouldnor site east of Yarmouth. Vis was 2-3 metres in bright sunshine, a little lower than we’d normally expect for this time of year.

Weekend of Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May was blown out due to strong winds but we were able to conduct sea grass surveys on various sites from Yarmouth to Beaulieu on Thursday 25 May. Vis has come good inshore and though the plankton has bloomed outside the Needles, Solent water was quite clear. Saturday 27 May has been blown out by fresh easterly winds, a most uncomfortable direction.

Dive/vis reports: With a lull in the wind, we headed out to the wreck of the steam coaster Braedale on Sunday 28 May. Bright sunshine, clear skies and no wind! Vis was an excellent 7-8 metres in ambient light, with the water temperature now around 13°. We followed this with a dip on the War Knight. Inshore was more breezy but vis on the wreck was nearly as good as it gets at around 4-5 metres. On BH Monday 29 May we were ready to dive the Serrana in the Needles Channel, but this had to be aborted due to the skipper being injured. Winds now have continued from the north-east, and it looks like it will wipe out diving until mid-June.

Dive/vis reports: After 3 weeks of north-easterly winds, which pretty much blew out all dive trips in late May/early June, the weather finally came good and on Saturday 10 June we headed off to dive the wreck of the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 30 metres. This is a good dive, upright and full of life. Vis was pretty good at around 6 metres. A second dive on the inshore wreck of the War Knight also had good vis, which is not often experienced so close inshore. With flat seas and no wind, at last we’re back into the diving. Next day, Sunday 11 June, the weather was somewhat gloomy with thick clod and rain, but with SeaSearch divers on board this wasn’t a concern as we explored a reef formation south-east of Freshwater Bay, followed by a survey of the sea grass to the east of Yarmouth. Vis continues to hold up well. From Monday 12 June to Friday 16 June. we were operating out of Haslar Marina and Southsea Marina respectively, searching for and attempting to identify numerous seabed anomalies. The first 2 dives were south of Portsmouth Harbour, where a feature in 25 metres was explored. Large magnetometer hits indicated something ferrous and divers used probes to search through the mud, the upper layer of which had the considtency of sloppy blancmange. During a number of dives, several holes were excavated and a large intact pulley block was recovered, in excellent condition. The type of block was in use by the Royal Navy in the late 1600’s onwards so we’re confident we’ve located a missing wooden warship from the early 1700’s. Running out of Southsea later in the week, we began ground-truthing a number of magnetic anomalies in the Bracklesham Bay area. Most turned out to be modern rubbish or remnants from D-Day preparations, but during circular searched wooden timbers studded with copper and brass rivets and nails were seen. We need to return to do more work on the site. We also searched inside Chichester Harbour to investigate a site where a medieval cannon was pulled up by a fisherman years ago. A strong magnetometer hit was registered, but diving revealed a fallen navigation pole ad well as more modern rubbish – but no more cannons. Vis all week was around 4-5 metres.

Dive/vis reports: The weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June was another excellent weekend for diving. Despite an iffy forecast midweek, the predicted easterly winds failed to materialise and we had calm seas and bright skies. Steaming offshore to the south-east, we explored an unknown, unidentified steamer in about 64 metres. From its location and description it is highly likely to be the WW2 victim Dungrange, torpedoed by e-boat in the days following D-Day in 1944. A single boiler plus donkey boiler and a triple expansion engine, plus damage at the stern, suggests this is the Dungrange, a small steamer of about 600 tons, but more diving is need to confirm. A good dive, the wreck is upright and with vis of 6 metres in ambient light, a memorable one. Next day we again headed to the south-east, this time to one of our favourites, the Daylesford in 46 metres. If anything, the vis was even better at 6-8 metres in ambient light, (well, it is nearly 20 metres shallower) with the water temperature up around 14-15°. Finally, and for something completely different, we headed to Langstone Harbour on an oyster project in the upper reaches of the harbour on Monday 19 June. Around 8 sites were surveyed and though the harbour is muddy, vis was around 2 metres at a depth of 6-7 metres,

Dive/vis reports: Friday 23 June and we’re heading offshore to investigate a potential new site. Fine weather, calm seas, and vis of 8 metres. The anomaly, wreck shaped and of similar size, gave a huge magnetometer hit, but turned out to be an isolated, well defined reef of magnetic rock. Such anomalies have to be dived, or ‘ground-truthed’ in order to be sure of what’s there. Next, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June, with SeaSearch divers on board, we remained within the western Solent. To begin with, we dived the Long Rock in Alum Bay and followed this with a dive on Bouldnor Cliff on slack water, beginning in 10 metres and ascending the slope to the sea grass in 3 metres. Vis was around 4-5 metres and the inshore water temperature has increased quite markedly, to around 17 or 18°. On Tuesday 27 June and Wednesday 28 June, taking advantage of a very good neap tide, this time with marine archaeologists on board, we continued work on Bouldnor Cliff and Pitts Deep. The weather wasn’t too kind, with a brisk westerly breeze and sloppy sea, but vis was good at 4-5 metres. Finally on Friday 29 June, with a light boat, a few of us headed to Cowes to investigate a possible aircraft wreck. Being Cowes, vis was never going to be good, and it wasn’t, which made identification difficult, but the uncharted wreck was photographed and surveyed. Covered in thick, fluffy brown weed, more diving is needed to identify what it is. The weekend of Saturday 1 July and Sunday 2 July has been blown out by strong winds.

Dive/vis reports. Not much to report due to poor weather. The entire week of Monday 10 to Sunday 16 July was lost to strong winds, but we were able to get out on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 July in the Solent, with members of Ocean Conservation, harvesting sea grass seeds for laboratory cultivation and, ultimately, replanting in areas where habitat has been lost or destroyed. We dived in Thorness Bay and Bouldnor, where vis ranged from poor to an acceptable 3 metres. Inshore water temperature is now up around 19°.

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces available as follows: Saturday 5 August. Diving the wreck of the Spyros in 30 metres (31 or 32 metres in the scour). Upright and still fairly intact after more than 100 years. Second dive on the wreck of the War Knight in 12 metres. Friday 11 August. Diving the wreck of the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres, upright and still ship-shape, followed by shallow inshore wreck or drift. Friday 8 September. Diving the armed WWII trawler in 36 metres (seabed depth). Wreck stands 4 metres. Second dive an inshore wreck or drift. Friday 22 September. diving the WWII wreck of HMS Swordfish, a British submarine blown in two. Bridge still attached, propellers in place, gun on foredeck. Depth 40 metres. Second dive probably a drift across Atherfield Ledge where there are numerous bits of assorted wreckage. For all these dives, please contact the organiser, Jaki, on wilson.jaki19@sky.com

Dive/vis reports: The dreary July continues – we’ve managed 5 trips out in July, all in the Solent, with 17 days lost to strong winds. It’s a re-run of 2012! That was a wet and windy summer too. We did manage to get out on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 July, diving Bouldnor cliff with marine archaeologists. The first day began in glorious sunshine, dead flat seas and no wind, but by the afternoon the cloud had increased, the breeze picked up and we had rain. Next day, strong winds were in, but we were diving in the lee of the Island and got the day in OK. Vis on the low water was as expected – poor – but much improved on the high water. Water temperature has probably peaked at 19°.

Forthcoming dive spaces: Ever optimistic that the jet stream will return to its normal summer position and we can get diving again, there are dive spaces available to dive the wreck of the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres, on BH Monday 28 August. Due to tide times, it’ll be a reverse profile day, diving a shallow wreck in the morning followed by the main dive in mid-afternoon. Anyone wanting to dive please contact the organiser, Mike, on mikeharper541@gmail.com

The dismal weather continues – the weekend of Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July was blown out by strong winds, as was Monday 31st. Similarly, the weekend of Saturday 5 August and Sunday 6 August also fell victim to the weather. Never known a year like it!

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 September. Nothing too ambitious – depth about 30 metres on one of the following wrecks: Spyros, Borgny, Venezuela, New Dawn. Second dive included. Names to Jaki on wilson.jaki19@sky.com

Dive/vis reports: Unsurprisingly, there aren’t any, given the relentless run of strong winds, preventing us from leaving port. I haven’t been outside the Needles for 7 weeks so far. Dives planned for Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 August were all blown out.

Dive/vis reports: Monday 14 August – and we’re out! We’re running out of Southsea with marine archaeologists to investigate a cannon site thought to be associated with the wreck of HMS Invincible, lost in 1759. The site lies some distance from the main body of the wreck, and potentially is evidence that these 9′ long experimental guns were jettisoned to lighten the ship and to bring it upright. They must have had some success as the ship bounced away before finally coming to rest on the Horse Tail Sands. The weather wasn’t great, with a relentless southerly slop, but cleaning the site prior to photogrammetry was done. Next day Tuesday 15 August we returned to the site to continue preparations for a full survey. Vis was not bad at 2-3 metres. Later in the day we returned to the WW1 wreck of HMS Boxer in order to complete photogrammetry which had commenced some years previously, but visibility on the low water slack was poor, and the dive was aborted after a short dive. Finally on Wednesday 16 August, the survey and photogrammetry on the cannon site was successfully completed. There are six large guns, lying pretty much side by side, muzzles all pointing in the same direction. Further exploratory work is needed here. Water temperature is around 19°. On Thursday 17 August, despite an increasing easterly breeze, different divers were aboard and we headed to the northern part of Langstone Harbour to continue with an oyster survey. Thousands of immature oysters had been places here and the object was to see how they had fared. Few live ones were found, which begs the question – what’s killing them? Vis here was better than outside the harbour, at about 4 metres. Friday 18 August and Saturday 19 August were both blown out. We managed to get out on Sunday 20 August to dive the clipper ship Smyrna. Flat seas and blue skies – at last. Vis on the way out looked indifferent and only improved when we were a mile or two from the wreck – so 17 or 18 miles of not-so-good vis. On the wreck vis was – for here – fairly low at 5 metres in ambient light but nevertheless this is a great dive.

Dive/vis reports: Hooray! Four days of continuous diving! Friday 25 August and we’re back surveying Bouldnor Cliff just to the east of Yarmouth with marine archaeologists. The low slack vis was, as expected, somewhat poor but not so bad as to prevent work. On the flood tide vis improved dramatically at around 3-5 metres. Next day, Saturday 26 August, with the promise of reasonable weather and a brilliant neap tide, we’d intended to dive the stern section of the Serrana in the Needles Channel. however, with a brisk south-westerly wind opposing an ebb tide, sea conditions were pretty awful, to the extent that it was too much to carry out diving here. Accordingly we pressed on through the waves to dive the Fenna instead, where conditions were slightly better. Vis was in the region of 3-4 metres. This was followed by a second wreck dive on HMS Pomone in Alum Bay, and then a drift dive in the western Solent from Hatherwood Point. Next day, Sunday 27 August, the weather and sea conditions had improved, but still less than ideal, and this time we did manage to dive the Serrana. Vis of around 4 metres was not bad considering the constant run of unsettled weather this summer, and as the afternoon breeze picked up we headed for sheltered water and for the second dive, drifted along Bouldnor Cliff. Finally on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August both weather and sea conditions were ideal. Mainly fair, with blue skies and sunny intervals and no wind, we did reverse profile dives due to the awkward times of slack water. Diving the wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas in the morning, the water was slightly milky – no doubt due to the westerly winds of the past 2 or 3 days – but vis varied from 2-5 metres. For the afternoon slack we headed to the wreck of the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres. Vis was a pretty good 5-6 metres in ambient light and with the water temperature still hovering around 18° to 19°, this was another enjoyable dive.

Dive/vis reports: Huge spring tides for the weekend of Saturday 2 September and Sunday 3 September but we dived both days in glorious sunshine, flat seas and – for a change – no wind. First we dived the WW1 wreck of the Admiralty steam drifter New Dawn in 33 metres. Vis was, as expected, quite low at around 1.5 to 2 metres, and this was followed by a very quick but exhilarating drift dive across Christchurch Ledge. Next day, in attempting to find better conditions but still with a huge tide, we dived the Fenna in 24 metres. Despite slack being later and shorter than usual due to the tide, vis was a little better at 2 metres, but the outstanding highlight was the amount of life on the wreck. Following the advice for low vis – go slow and look at what’s right in front of you – lots of fish, crabs, lobsters and other creatures were spotted. We ended the day in the still waters of Alum Bay, diving the 1811 wreck of HMS Pomone in 8-9 metres.

Dive/vis reports: On Friday 8 September, just as the effects of that huge spring tide eased off and the neap tide came on, we ventured out in fine, clear weather to dive the armed trawler Warwick Deeping. Vis had improved considerably from the previous weekend to about 4 metres. This was followed by a dip on the Greek steamer Joannis Millas off Chilton, where a long, lazy swell from the Channel made diving a bit more interesting. On Saturday 9 September, with the sea dead flat, bright skies and absolutely no wind, we headed mid-Channel to dive the 1928 wreck of the Greek steamer Ioannis Fafalios. Considering the brilliant neap tide, vis wasn’t as good as usual at around 7 metres in ambient light, where normally 15 metres would be expected. Next day, Sunday 10 September, we again headed south to mid-Channel to dive the British steamer Luxor. Thick grey cloud and occasional rain affected ambient light on the wreck, where unbelievably vis was reduced to about 4 metres. Despite that, this is a good dive on a big wreck. Mature crawfish were spotted – a good sign their numbers are recovering. On Monday 11 September, diving the late slack at the end of the current run of neaps, we dived inshore on the wreck of the Belgian steamer Espagne. With wind against tide, sea conditions were somewhat disagreeable! Vis wasn’t great here either at around 2 metres, but everyone had a good dive. Finally on Tuesday 12 September we switched over the the early, high water, slack, to explore an unknown mark. I’d run over it with the magnetometer and had a good reading so expected it to be some sort of wreck. As it turned out, this is almost certainly the remains of the WW1 British schooner Florence Louisa, stopped by a U-boat in 1917. The Germans placed a bomb on the outside of the schooner below the water line and after it exploded she quickly sank. A substantial pile of steel plating, a main feature of the site, is probably the cargo of scrap steel she was carrying. Deadeyes, pulley blocks, lots of 2′ long copper rivets, Admiralty pattern anchors etc, were all seen on the wreck. Particularly nosey, inquisitive congers emerged from their hiding places, surely a sign they’d never seen divers before. Vis was much better than yesterday and the dive was done in ambient light – a good end to a 5 day run.

Dive/vis reports: Good weather allowed us to head towards St Catherine’s on Saturday 16 September, specifically just off Rocken End, with divers from SeaSearch. Data on the flora and fauna of this area is extremely sparse but some rare species were found and recorded. Vis was around 4 metres in ambient light at depths up to 18 metres. In amongst the gullies was found a huge iron anchor, 3 or 4 metres long, of a type in use by the Admiralty in the late 17th/early 18th centuries. Since there have been numerous wrecks along this part of the coast it’s not a surprise to find something like this. Whether the ship it was attached to survived or not, we’ll never know. A second dive in rough ground off Compton Bay found the seabed slightly silty and accordingly, vis was reduced to about 2 metres during the ebb tide. Sunday 17 September, when we were due to go offshore, was blown out by strong easterlies.

Dive/vis reports: Friday 22 September was cancelled due to strong winds and poor inshore vis – due to the gales earlier in the week. However, we took advantage of a weather window on Saturday 23 September to venture offshore to dive the wreck of the steamer El Kahira in 60 metres. On the way out there was a steady swell from the west and wind against tide, but the breeze was light and with sunny skies we reached the site and dived. Vis was a good 8-10 metres in ambient light. Water temperature at depth is beginning to decline but at 17° no-one was complaining. We returned to port as the wind began to pick up from the south-west, and became too much to dive on Sunday 24 September, which was, accordingly, scrubbed.

Dive spaces: There may be spaces on Friday 13 October to dive the WW1 wreck of the Borgny in 30 metres. Contact me and i’ll put you in touch with the organiser.

Dive/vis reports: Despite dire warnings concerning the approach of Storm Agnes, on Wednesday 27 September we managed to dive the Solent with divers from SeaSearch in good conditions. Outside the Island winds were south-east 4-6 which would have blown us out if we were attempting to dive there, but heading for the north coast of the Isle of Wight, seas were flat and vis was quite good. Firstly we dived just off Bouldnor, close inshore, to assess how the sea grass had fared over the summer, now that it is beginning to die back. Vis was 3-4 metres. Following this we decided to try a new site, and chose the southern side of Warden Ledge, fairly close inshore, as we had no data on what lives there. Vis held up very well and in pretty much slack water numerous species were identified. The bonus was divers came across an uncharted wreck which is probably a steel barge or something similar.

Forthcoming dive spaces. There are spaces available to dive the WW1 wreck of the Norwegian steamer Borgny in 30 metres on Friday 13 October. Meet 0815 to leave around 0845. Second dive included. Contact the organiser, Jaki, on wilson.jaki19@sky.com

Oops – website’s been down for a while but now back up and running. Dive/vis reports: In between continuous low pressure systems, we managed to get out on to the Shingles, near Hurst Castle, Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 October, surveying a historic wreck site. The first day was sunny and warm with flat seas with unexpectedly good vis of 3-5 metres. The next day was somewhat bumpy but the dives were completed with similar vis. Water temperature is now declining, as expected. The following weekend’s dives were all blown out but what may be the last dive of the 2023 season was done on Wednesday 25 October, with a series of dives on the wreck of HMS Invincible off Portsmouth. Even though we’d had rough weather, the dives were concluded in vis of 2-3 metres.

Dive/vis reports: Well, is this the last of 2023? We were out on Wednesday 22 November off Beaulieu, in the western Solent, with divers doing more sea grass work. It was the first day in weeks with light winds and bright skies. Working in very shallow water, on occasions less than 2 metres deep, vis was up to a metre. Not great but it was low water, following weeks of stormy weather and heavy rain, but more than enough for the work in hand. Water temperature inshore has plummeted to a cool 11°.

Dive/vis reports 2022

The season has kicked off! Sunday 10 April – plenty early enough – we ventured out for the first dip of the year on the WW1 wreck of the steamer Gallia in 38 metres. Vis was estimated at 2-4 metres, so if we say an average of 3 metres we won’t be far wrong. Torches were essential as it was dark below 2 metres. Water temperature on the wreck was a chilly 7° though at the surface it’s 9°. Sea state was a bit uncomfortable – south-easterly breeze and a swell from the west – but everyone completed the dive safely.

On Friday 29 April we dived seagrass beds off Beaulieu in the Solent as part of a long term project to assess how well the beds are responding after the area was seeded in March. Despite a spring tide and the expected poor vis for April, the vis was an acceptable 2 metres. Next day, Saturday 30 April, in glorious sunshine and light winds, we headed south of the Needles to dive the wreck of the Spyros. Water clarity looked excellent – unusual this early in the season – and divers reported vis of 6-8 metres in ambient light at 30 metres depth. Some huge congers were in the wreck. We followed this with a visit to that old favourite, the War Knight, close inshore in 13 metres. Vis wasn’t expected to be great but in fact was a good 4 metres. No doubt the lack of rainfall and offshore winds has ensured the vis has got off to a great start.

A great weekend’s diving on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May. Venturing offshore first, in calm seas and no wind – but a grey sky – we dived the 1888 wreck of the steamer Saxmundham in 60 metres. A brilliant dive, with vis around 10-12 metres. Next day we had an early start and headed south-west. With the tide more neapy than the day before, water clarity improved and we had spectacular vis on the wreck of the Derna, estimated at 12-15 metres in ambient light. While ascending, divers passed through a fairly dense patch of jellyfish, from about 20 metres to about 10 metres. The upper 6 metres has some plankton but it’s not very thick and hasn’t had any impact on the vis.

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces on Saturday 14 May to dive the wreck of the WW1 steamer Venezuela in 27 metres. Good for wildlife. Second dive included. On Sunday 15 May we are diving the wreck of the Spyros in 30 metres. A pretty, upright wreck, second dive included. To book on these dives contact Jaki on wilson.jaki19@sky.com

Dive/vis reports: On Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 May, operating from Southsea, a team of marine archaeologists were engaged in surveying the protected wreck of HM submarine A1 in Bracklesham Bay, and clearing it of snagged fishing gear – ropes, pots and associated debris. Vis was very good for this 12 metre dive in calm conditions. The second day was entirely different – a fresh south-westerly breeze made an appearance, gusting to force 5, making life on the surface and underwater somewhat uncomfortable. Vis was reduced with the appearance of plankton, but still plenty good enough. Despite the conditions the dives were completed safely.

Dive/vis reports: On Thursday 12 and Friday 13 May, marine archaeologists were aboard, surveying the wreck site where the Mary Rose was raised 40 years ago. The deep impression in the mud, where the wreck was lying, is filling with silt. Site monitoring equipment was located and raised, and it is hoped much information can be retrieved from it. Vis was very good for this site, just outside Portsmouth harbour, as much as 4 metres or so. Surface conditions were uncomfortable due to the south-westerly 4/5 blowing, but the dives were completed safely. On Saturday 14 May, in glorious sunshine and flat seas, a group of recreational divers dived the wreck of the Spyros 3 miles south of the Needles. This is a very nice dive. Vis in ambient light was a brilliant 10-12 metres. Plenty of fish on the wreck, including some huge congers. We followed this with a dive in Alum Bay on the remains of the bow section of HMS Pomone, wrecked at the Needles in 1811. Vis was again excellent, at an easy 6-7 metres. Water temperature is climbing slowly to around 10/11°.

Dive/vis reports: Following a fairly big spring tide, on Thursday 19 May we headed to Calshot to survey oyster beds. Despite the green/brown Solent water, Calshot showed a marked improvement, where vis was 2-3 metres in bright sunshine. On Saturday 21 May, in sunny, fine conditions but with a pronounced ground swell, we headed south-east to St Catherine’s, to dive the WW1 steamer Tweed. In contrast to the 12 metres, sparkly clear vis of a week ago, a severe plankton bloom has hit us, as bad as any of use can remember. Very unusual for this area to be so badly affected. Vis all the way to 40 metres was abysmal, estimated at no more than a metre with a torch, and pitch black below 20 metres depth. On the basis that the water colour was so bad, we decided that it wasn’t worth the time and expense to dive the next day. What’s the point if you can’t see anything? On the plus side, water temperature has risen to 12°, and vis should improve with the next neap tide.

Dive/vis reports: On Tuesday 24 May, operating from Haslar with a team of marine archaeologists, we continued a survey on the historic wreck of HMS Invincible, lost in 1758. Just off site, an anomaly was investigated, which showed on the sounder, and which proved to be the vessel’s rudder, measured at an impressive 11.5 metres in length, though more was buried under sand. This is a massive piece of timber complete with sheathing and ironwork, and now that it is exposed it’s vulnerable to the gribble and will have to be covered in sandbags to prevent deterioration, prior to possible future recovery and restoration. Rough weather predicted for the next day prevented further diving.

Dive/vis reports: Following three days of windy, unsettled weather, we were able to get out on Friday 27 May to dive the wreck of the Fenna in 23 metres. Vis has improved to around 4-5 metres in ambient light. There was still a swell left over from the days before, but with no-one seasick, that’s a result! We dived the War Knight for a second dive but, as expected with a close-inshore wrecks after windy weather, vis wasn’t very good, but enough. Next day, Saturday 28 May, we headed south-east to dive the wreck of the armed trawler Warwick Deeping. The plankton bloom is now dissipating, and vis at 36 metres was a good 4 metres in ambient light. A second dive on the wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas, sheltered from the cool northerly breeze, and further offshore than the War Knight, gave decent vis of around 3 metres. Water temperature has risen now to about 15°. Finally, on Sunday 29 May, with SeaSearch divers on board, sea grass close to Bouldnor was surveyed in good vis of about 3 metres. Later, we headed round the Needles and dived a spot close inshore just to the west of Freshwater Bay, to examine habitats and sea life. Vis has improved here since Friday, at 2-3 metres.

Dive/vis reports: The Jubilee 4 day holiday was fully booked for diving off St Catherine’s Point. On Thursday 2 June we duly headed in that direction but as we neared the site of the WW1 steamer South Western, water clarity noticeably diminished, but it was definitely better than the week before. In fine weather and sunny skies but a most uncomfortable easterly breeze, which produced a confused, steep swell with a short wave interval, the dive was completed with vis estimated at around 3 metres with ambient light but really a torch was needed. There is still some plankton though this continues to disperse. In order to find better vis for Friday 3 June and to reduce the time spent in a nasty easterly slop, we decided to dive just to the west of St Catherine’s and closet to home, and not as far as we’d originally intended. Water clarity had shown a dramatic improvement on the day before. Although the weather forecast was for continued easterly winds, in the event there was none. So much for forecasts! We dived the wreck thought to be the WW1 steamer Hazelwood. This wreck is unwilling to give up her secrets, as we have yet to find anything to prove her identity once and for all. Vis had improved considerably to 6-8 metres in ambient light, with divers visible on the wreck from less than 30 metres depth. Saturday 4 June was blown out by strong north-easterly winds.

Dive/vis reports: Sunday 5 June and we’re out again, once more heading for St Catherine’s and expecting the great vis to continue. Whether the strong winds from the day before had an effect or not, we don’t know, but vis was much reduced on the wreck of the Cleddy, made worse by a grey, gloomy overcast day. At least the sea was calm! Following the dive and refuelling, we headed to Haslar marina to pick up marine archaeologists ready for an early start on Monday 6 June. The intention is to investigate various magnetometer hits in areas where very old ships were lost. A breezy but sunny day, one site off Portsmouth was investigated but the mud was too deep to discern any wreckage. However, a magnificent 17th century intact bottle was pulled out of the mud. Later we headed to the Bembridge area to investigate more magnetometer hits, each time these turned out to be modern or relatively modern iron and steel remains. On Tuesday 7 June, we again dived off Portsmouth on two different areas. The weather was poor – grey, gloomy and drizzling. This time, however, the divers were rewarded with success, as just below the mud they found timbers and iron concretions. We now have an exciting site to fully investigate in the future. Wednesday 8th, Thursday 9th and Friday 10th were blown out due to strong winds.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 11 June, diving with SeaSearch, we were confined to the western Solent due to continuing strong winds. Alum Bay proved to be quite a challenge. Although sheltered from the south-westerly blow, an unusually large swell affected the bay, and divers were somewhat tumbled around, and to make matters worse, vis was poor. That’s only to be expected after nearly a week of strong winds and a heavy swell. Following this, we headed to Thorness Bay to see how the sea grass was faring. Here it was much more sheltered, but vis was still low. Next day, Sunday 12 June, the wind had died away and in bright, clear sunny conditions, we steamed south-east of the Needles to dive the WWII wreck of the steamer Terlings. In stark contrast to the day before, vis at 40 metres in ambient light was a wonderful 10 metres plus. A persistent ground swell, not as bad as Saturday, made its presence felt on the wreck, but a great dive was had. On Tuesday 14 June a small group went out to investigate a potential new site east of St Catherine’s Point. Vis to the west of the Point has held up well, but east of it the water had more of a green tinge, no doubt as a result of the building spring tide. Nevertheless, in 40 metres in ambient light, vis was a good 4 metres. We didn’t find what we’d hoped but these sites have to be dived to confirm what’s there.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 18 June, with the slack water times being slightly awkward, we dived the shallow dive in the morning on the wreck of the War Knight. It’s not often the vis is really good on this site, due to its position close inshore, exposed to the prevailing west and south-west winds, but vis was a very acceptable 5 metres in ambient light. The afternoon slack saw us on the wreck of the Borgny, with grey skies but fairly flat sea conditions. The winds were forecast to increase late in the day, but came through several hours early. A fresh to strong north to north-east wind sprang up, as if from nowhere, a good force 5, and by the time the divers surfaced the sea state had risen considerably and was now quite rough. Nevertheless, all divers were safely recovered and then we headed for the Needles, directly into a short, steep sea and strong wind, which caused a wet passage home. Next day, Sunday 19 June, with the wind forecast to moderate, we decided to venture out and seek shelter round the back of the Island. Again, we dived the War Knight, where the overnight north-easterly gale had somewhat disturbed the water clarity of the flood tide, but still gave 3-4 metres vis in ambient light. After a bite to eat and a hot drink, we steamed to the south-east to dive the 1896 wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas. Vis was better here, being further offshore, and still in the lee of the Island. Some huge lobsters were seen and plenty of fish, as well as lots of wreckage. So, despite adverse winds, we made the best of the day and everyone had a good day.

Dive/vis reports: On Tuesday 21 June, the summer solstice, we headed off to investigate various anomalies to see what they were. We had fine, sunny weather, but with a southerly swell – quite unusual for here. The first two sites were located but were so small they were deemed not worth further investigation at this stage. The third, however, looked good, and stood up enough for me to think, ‘That looks like a boiler’. Sure enough, when divers went down on the site at less than 30 metres, there was a boiler, positioned in such a way that the furnace was high up, indicating that the vessel had capsized when sinking or had subsequently rolled over. A few other pieces of wreckage were spotted including some timbers, but much seems to be buried under the sand. The site is close to where the steam drifter Plantin was blown up by a mine in 1917, and it is highly likely that the wreck is her. More diving is needed to confirm. Some great underwater images were taken showing the boiler and other unidentified pieces of wreckage, largely scattered, which is entirely consistent with a vessel being blown up. Vis was 5-6 metres in ambient light. On the way back we tried to investigate another anomaly, but despite placing a shot on the site, the tide was too strong and we had to leave it for another day. For the next two days, Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 June, marine archaeologists were on board, diving the submerged landscape site off Bouldnor, near Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. The low water slack wasn’t great for vis, as expected, but improved considerably on the final day on high water slack. More flint artefacts were recovered showing that, at the very least, flint knapping was taking place here as well as boat building (log boats) as many wood chippings were also seen, and the remains of a log boat recovered from here in the past. The following 3 days have been blown out due to strong winds, when we were due to be diving mid-Channel.

Dive/vis reports: After 3 days of unusually strong June winds, we headed out on Monday 27 June for the Calshot oyster site – in yet more strong winds. Needless to say, this has affected the water clarity, and given that we are diving in 4-5 metres of water, we weren’t expecting great vis – we certainly didn’t get it! Nevertheless, the dives were completed and samples obtained for analysis.

Dive spaces: There are spaces for Monday 4 July and Tuesday 5 July, diving from a selection of wrecks – the Spyros, Borgny, Venezuela, War Knight etc. The actual main dive to be determined on the day, but nothing deeper than 30-32 metres. If we can’t get to the really close inshore wrecks we may dive across Christchurch Ledge on a pretty drift dive. Anyone interested – please email me.

Dive/vis reports: Saturday 2 July was blown out by strong south-westerlies, but the wind later moderated and we were able to get out on Sunday 3 July, diving the WW1 steamer Redesmere of St Catherine’s Point. Typically, we headed through the good vis to St Cats in a sloppy swell, where vis was somewhat reduced to 2-3 metres in ambient light. Next day, Monday 4 July, we headed off firstly to dive the War Knight in Watcombe Bay. Following the continuing unsettled weather, vis wasn’t expected to be great but was an acceptable 2-3 metres. For the main dive in the afternoon, on the WW1 wreck of the Borgny, we had to cope with an unexpected increase in the wind to south-westerly 4-5, which was quite uncomfortable. Despite this, everyone dived the wreck in good vis of around 5 metres. Then – disaster! Just as the divers began to surface, the stern lift failed – no power at all. Divers had to remove gear in the water and clamber aboard using the stern boarding ladder. This was a difficult operation but with assistance from those who were first aboard everyone was safely recovered to the boat. Next day, Tuesday 5 July, the first job was to examine the stern lift. It was anticipated the fault lay in the operating switch, and when it was dismantled the fault was found – the main power cable had broken from the terminal. This was easily fixed and the lift restored to full working order. We headed off to dive the 1896 wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas. Vis was slightly better than the morning before. For the afternoon dive we headed to the wreck of the Spyros in bright sunny conditions. This is always a popular dive and all came up saying so, with congers and lobsters to be seen, and a wreck still broadly ship-shape, with vis around 5 metres. This should now improve quite rapidly as the next neap tide comes on.

Dive/vis reports: Thursday 7 July was a dull, dreary day, and on site on the wreck of the early steamer Faith we were exposed to the northerly breeze which was slightly uncomfortable. Despite this, divers went in with various tasks in order to add to our knowledge of early steamship technology, and to examine various fittings and fixtures. Vis was a good 5 metres despite the absence of sunshine, and all tasks were completed, providing us with new information on the wreck and its construction. Sod’s Law – we came into clear skies and bright sunshine on the way home. The next three days were fantastic. With high pressure finally dominating our weather, we had flat seas, clear skies and bright summer sunshine. We first went to the WWII German U-boat, U-480, on Friday 8 July, in about 58 metres. Vis on the surface didn’t look great – we’d passed clear water on the way to the site – but it was certainly good enough for divers to see the whole wreck. On Saturday 9 July we visited another WWII victim, this time the big steamer Dumfries. Sunk in 1944 this wreck still stands 10-12 metres, and was judged the best wreck of the weekend. On site, a few miles further south than the U-480, vis had improved dramatically to 12-15 metres. Finally, on Sunday 10 July, we headed out to The Rips to dive the 1888 wreck of the steamer Saxmundham. Vis was brilliant again at an easy 12 metres in ambient light. And the seas remained flat for the voyage home…

Dive/vis reports: Just completed 3 good days diving. On Friday 15 July, as part of an oyster survey, we dived the wreck of the Clan Macvey in Poole Bay. It’s a big spring tide so vis wasn’t expected to be great, but at 3-4 metres it was fine. This wreck tends to be silty and the dive was no exception. Plenty of young and mature oysters were seen and recorded. We followed this with a dive on the War Knight where, as expected for a close inshore wreck on a big tide, vis was lower. However, the weather was great and the sea was flat – just needed a bit more vis. Next day, Saturday 16 July, was a long haul, out to mid channel to the south-east of the Needles, diving the WW1 steamer Wyndhurst, which went down in 10 seconds after being torpedoed in 1917. Slack water comes quite a bit later here then closer inshore, and the length of slack is shorter, especially on these bigger tides. However, vis was a good 6 metres in ambient light at 58 metres, the sea was flat and the sun was shining. Finally, on Sunday 17 July, we modified out plans from another long haul to a closer wreck, due to the light to moderate easterly breeze, which was on our beam and made life slightly uncomfortable. We dived that favourite, classic wreck, the clipper ship Smyrna. Vis was disappointingly low, at about 4 metres – very unusual for this wreck, where we can normally expect 10 metres plus. A very nice find was a glass surround for an oil lamp, etched with angels. Most unusual and completely intact. Water temperature is up around 16/17 degrees.

Dive/vis reports: On Tuesday 19 July and Wednesday 20 July, we were operating around Bouldnor, Thorness Bay and Osborne Bay, on the north coast of the Isle of Wight, collecting seeds from ripe sea grass, to be grown on under laboratory conditions at Plymouth aquarium. When sufficiently mature, the new plants will be planted in areas which have suffered sea grass loss, usually due to indiscriminate anchoring. The weather was hot and sunny, and sea temperatures close inshore in shallow water, is now around 21°. On Friday 22 July we headed for Calshot outfall to continue work on surveying oyster growth. A nasty easterly wind was blowing which made conditions challenging and uncomfortable, and which reduced vis to poor, but the dives were safely concluded. We then headed for Thorness Bay where we were in shelter, and dived slightly further offshore than earlier in the week in order to assess how far offshore the sea grass beds were growing. A dull, gray, miserable morning, the sun finally emerged as we headed back to port.

Dive/vis reports: A mid channel trip on Saturday 23 July saw us head 38 miles south to 20 miles off the French coast, diving the large windjammer Eugene Schneider. Fine weather and calm seas and a slightly overcast sky, still gave vis of 10 metres plus in ambient light at 65 metres. This is a great dive, with lots to see, with the cargo of African railway sleepers still in the wreck. Next day, Sunday 24 July, was blown out by strong southwesterly winds.

Dive/vis reports: On Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 July, marine archaeologists were on board diving the submerged site of human habitation at Bouldnor Cliff, east of Yarmout, Isle of Wight. A substantial number of flint artefacts were recovered, as sharp as the day they were knapped, 8500 years ago. Photogrammetry was also conducted in order to assess the rate of erosion, as the site is constantly being affected by strong tidal streams. Comparison with previous years will show how fast the site id being eroded. We also took the opportunity to search for a missing historic aircraft near Cowes. A site was located, but permission to dive has to be sought due to the volume of traffic coming out of Southampton. Water temperature in the shallows is now hovering around 20/21°. On Wednesday 27 July we headed south of the Needles to dive a potential new wreck site, which turned out to be yet another isolated patch of large rocks, which looked exactly like a wreck on the echo sounder. Fortunately we were close to another known wreck, the steamer Eleanor torpedoed in 1918, which we dived instead. Vis was a bit disappointing at 3-4 metres, with divers describing silt in the water – and this, despite no rainfall or stormy seas. It’s a mystery! We then dived in Alum Bay attempting to recover a yachtsman’s lost anchor chain, but it was wedged so hard in rock that it proved impossible to remove. Next day, Thursday 28 July, was blown out by our old friend, moderate to strong easterly winds.

Dive/vis reports: The weather improved for our next dive, on Friday 29 July, on the WWII armed trawler Warwick Deeping. Fine weather and calm seas – what more do you want? Good vis, that’s what! All along the south coast, from Swanage to Eastbourne, vis has been disappointing. It’s not plankton, but fine silt. We’ve had no rain or storms, and no dredging operations, so it must be natural variation – most years the vis is great, this year, not so much. Despite this we had a good dive on this wreck, with an intact f’o’c’sle clock found among the debris, Next day, Saturday 30 July, we headed off in fine weather – but with an ominous forecast for strong winds – to dive the Train Set wreck, otherwise known as the schooner Brackenholme. Vis hadn’t improved. We’re on small spring tides following a good neap, so it ought to be good, but it’s still silty. Everyone got on the wreck OK, with lots more artefacts visible, though nothing was recovered apart from a lobster. Water temperature on the bottom is now 16°. After the dive we had a lively trip back to the Needles, as we had wind against tide and a moderate to strong breeze to contend with, which heaped up the sea and gave plenty of waves and spray. The forecast for Sunday 31 July wasn’t good, with 5’s and 6’s in the forecast, so it was a day off. On the whole, July has been a good month.

Dive/vis reports: Operating from Southsea Marina on Thursday 4 August, we dived round the Nab Tower on a BSAC Oyster project, to see what’s growing there. Vis wasn’t bad, but not great either, but we’re still on springs so not surprised. We followed this with a dive on the protected site of HM Submarine A1, and finally, we surveyed an artifial reef laid down to assess young oyster growth in the upper reaches of Langstone Harbour. Vis here was quite good, though it was no more than 6 or 7 metres deep, but good weather has helped. Next day, Friday 5 August, wind conditions were less than ideal with a moderate northerly breeze. However, we had shelter from Culver Cliff as we dived the WW1 torpedo boat destroyer HMS Boxer in 20 metres. On low water slack, coming off springs, vis wasn’t too bad at 2-3 metres in ambient light. We then headed inshore to dive a recent wreck, that of the barge Hauler in 14 metres. Divers were tasked with sighting oysters, and then to follow a compass bearing to find a rock outcrop rising up to 6 metres. The final dip of the day was on the remains of the dredger Roway, just outside Langstone Harbour. Vis here was poor and not much was achieved.

Dive/vis reports: Diving with members of SeaSearch on Saturday 6 August, we explored a new site off Warden Ledge, as there is no information on the nature of the seabed or what lives there. A few surprises were found, including a significant colony of cowrie shells living in 20 metres. Low water slack in the western Solent is rarely good, but at 2-3 metres it was OK – and water temperature has reached a balmy 20°. Our final dives were close to Old Pepper Rock to the east of the Needles, on the south side of the Island, close to the cliffs, and another rock which was awash a short distance to the west. Vis here was much improved on the flooding tide. The differences in flora and fauna were noticeable when comparing what grows on horizontal surfaces, to what grows on vertical surfaces.

Dive/vis reports: Sunday 7 August and the weather is still amazing – clear skies, bright sunshine, no wind. We headed to the Needles to dive the stern section of the WW1 steamer Serrana in 20 metres. Lots of life on this one, including some massive congers. Vis was still somewhat milky and about 2-3 metres in ambient light – far below what I’d normally expect on the first neap tide in August, when the water normally clears quite dramatically. I’m told the milky/low vis extends from at least Kimmeridge in the west to as far as Eastbourne in the east, and no-one can explain why. We’ve had no rain or storms – it’s a mystery. On Monday 8 August and Tuesday 9 August, operating from Haslar Marina at Gosport, and with marine archaeologists on board, we were diving anomalies off Portsmouth Harbour. Probes were used to locate buried wreckage, often more than a metre below the mud, so trenches were dug to try to uncover what’s there. Broken glass from an onion bottle, some concreted objects probably containing rope, and fragments from a wooden block were found, indicating we’re on some sort of wreckage. We’ve yet to prove what the wreck is, though we have a very good idea of its identity. Vis is rarely good here but it was around a metre in ambient light at 28 metres, but reduced to nil when the mud was being removed.

Dive/vis reports: Big spring tides for the weekend of Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 August, but the weather was hot and sunny with a light south-easterly on Saturday, and calm on Sunday. We first took a look at the wreck of the schooner Fenna in 23 metres. Plenty of life on this one, but vis was a milky/silty measly 2 metres or so but in ambient light. We followed this with a dip on the War Knight in 12 metres, where vis on the ebb tide was just over a metre. Not great, but do-able. On Sunday we steamed to the south-west to dive the WW1 wreck of the Borgny in 30 metres. The water at the surface looked better but on the wreck fine silt has begun to settle – but vis was marginally better as long as you had a decent torch, as it was quite dark on the wreck. That silt has filtered out most of the light. Following this we decided to dive in a spot out of the tide, and settled on the 1811 wreck of HMS Pomone, on part of the bow section in Alum Bay. With a couple of dozen boats anchored in the bay a good lookout had to be kept, but everyone concluded their dives safely. All in all, an excellent weekend – shame about the vis.

Forthcoming dive spaces:

Sunday 21 August. German cruiser Nurnberg sunk in 1922, ex Scapa Flow, in 60 metres. 1 space.

Sunday 28 August. British steamer Daylesford sunk in 1912 in 46 metres. 1 space.

Thursday 1 September.  4 spaces. Relatively shallow dives, no more than 35 metres. See next entry.

Friday 2 September. 4 spaces. Relatively shallow dives, no more than 35 metres, possible diving both tides. For further details, contact Phil on p.wells817@btinternet.com

Saturday 17 September. Sailing ship Waitara sunk in 1883 in 60 metres. 1 space.

Sunday 18 September. Greek steamer Ioannis Fafalios sunk in 1929 in 60 metres. 2 spaces.

Monday 19 September. British steamer Sphene sunk in 1916 in 65 metres. 3 spaces.

Tuesday 4 October. Dutch steamer Deucalion sunk in 1940 in 60 metres. 2 spaces.

Wednesday 5 October. Danish steamer Norma sunk in 1917 in 55 metres. 3 spaces.   For all dives except 1 and 2 September, contact Jay on depth.hound@googlemail.com For dives on 1 and 2 September, contact me.

Dive/vis reports: Saturday 20 August, and the forecast isn’t great, but the wind was expected to increase in the afternoon. In the event, it came through early, just as we headed south-west down the Needles Channel, heading for the wreck of the Dutch schooner Fenna in 23 metres. Sea conditions were, to say the least, most disagreeable, but once we passed the Bridge reef and the south-west Singles, conditions were slightly better and just about manageable. With SeaSearch divers on board, the Fenna was dived, and the first ever sighting on the south coast of the UK was recorded when a Norwegian bullhead fish was seen and photographed. Vis has improved at long last, with 2-3 metres reported on the low water slack. On surfacing we escaped the rough sea and dived just to the east of Yarmouth, out of the tide, and sea grass beds, as part of a long term monitoring programme. Next day, Sunday 21 August. the wind had dropped, though the skies were cloudy, gray and drizzly. We steamed 32 miles south of the Needles to dive a Scapa Flow survivor – the German light cruiser Nurnberg in 60 metres. We actually passed through a large area of crystal clear water in mid-Channel to slightly less clear water on the wreck. Nevertheless, it was still about 6-7 metres, though fairly dark. On Monday 22 August we headed offshore again, in dull, dreary weather but with no wind, to dive an unidentified mark expected to be a wreck. It turned out to be a spectacular patch of massive boulders, possible drop-stones left over from the end of the last Ice Age. These boulders were up to 10 metres high, and provided shelter for shellfish including mature crawfish. Lastly, on Tuesday 23 August, with marine archaeologists on board, we returned to Bouldnor Cliff east of Yarmouth. Vis had improved considerably, reported at about 5 metres, and divers were in the water about 0730 to take advantage of the high water slack. Further photogrammetry was carried out, and a large sample of sediment was recoverd for analysis to check for DNA of ancient mega-fauna. For a second dive we steamed to the west to survey what is believed to be the WW1 wreck of the steam drifter Plantin. The wreck lies in rock, largely covered with mobile sand. The position of the boiler suggests the vessel capsized when she was mined. Part of the engine was seen and other wreckage spotted poking up through the sand. Largely, the wreck is buried, but probably covers and uncovers from time to time. Vis was around 6 metres on the low water slack. Water temperature remains quite high, ranging from 18° at depth to 21° on the surface.

Dive/vis reports: Heavy rain was the order of the day for Thursday 25 August – as we headed up the Solent to Calshot for further oyster surveys. Vis was very good and ideal for photography. As midday approached the rain eased off and we dived the sea grass beds in Thorness Bay. Here, the grass is over a metre in length, and very dense, showing it’s thriving in this sheltered spot. Divers in 3 metres depth were visible from the boat.

Dive/vis reports: All set for the August Bank Holiday weekend – and on Saturday 27 August, in fair weather, no wind and sunny skies, we headed to St Catherine’s Point to dive the WW1 Norwegian steamer Braatt II in 40 metres. At long last, the vis is pretty much normal, with a very welcome 6-7 metres in ambient light. The upper 4 or 5 metres near the surface still have a milky/silty appearance, but below, it’s what we’d usually expect just after a good neap tide. Water temperature on the wreck is around 19° and a little higher at the surface. Another crawfish was spotted in the wreck, as well as a huge brill – both left for another day. Unfortunately, unpleasant easterly winds have come in, and as we were due a long trip on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August, we’ve pulled the plug – no-one wants to get beaten up by the nasty sea conditions which easterlies produce, so it’s two days off.

Dive/vis reports: Thursday 1 September. Hold everything – the weather is changing for the worse, weeks earlier than usual. After a series of east to north-east winds, from Sunday, a large low pressure system is going to park itself just to the west of the UK, bringing strong winds and rain. Hot on its heels is another, more intense depression, which, if it hits us, will bring gales towards the end of next week. Diving is unlikely to be happening for about the next two weeks, though I might be able to get out on Saturday. In any case, Thursday 1 September and Friday 2 September has been lost to unfavourable east to north-east winds. From Sunday 4 September to Friday 9 September, a long planned diving holiday for some Belgian divers has been cancelled due to the forecast of strong winds.

Dive/vis reports: After being tied up in port for a fortnight, the weather has come good again, just in time for the weekend. On Saturday 10 September, in warm, bright sunny weather, we headed south-east of the Island to dive the wreck of the armed trawler Warwick Deeping. Despite a substantial swell, left over from the retreating low pressure system, a good dive was had with differing estimates of vis – some saying 2-3 metres, others saying 4-5 metres, but all in ambient light. The depth of the wreck – pretty much 36 metres to the seabed – was reported at nearly 38 metres, which must be as a result of the swell. Finding a suitable site for the second dive might have been a problem given the water close inshore was dirty after a week of strong winds and a big spring tide, but we managed a very good drift dive across Christchurch Ledge in vis of around 5 metres. Everyone really enjoyed this one. Next day, Sunday 11 September, again in warm, bright sunny weather, once again we headed south-east of the Needles to dive the wreck of the ocean-going tug Witte Zee in 33 metres. With the spring tide even bigger than the day before (6.5 metre range on Dover) vis was slightly reduced, but still a very acceptable 2-4 metres. This wreck is full of life and is still a substantial structure, standing 6 metres. The starboard side has shingle piled up almost to the gunwales, while the port side is scoured out. The second dive was again on Christchurch Ledge, but the stronger ebb tide has knocked the vis, reducing it to around a metre. Despite this, a swift drift over the ledge in depths ranging from 15 metres at the start, up to 7-10 metres and then dropping off to 19 metres was described as quite exciting. A potentially very interesting find was a circular stone with a hole in the middle, apparently made of local ironstone, and which may be a Roman net anchor. Advice from professional archaeologists suggests it is a net weight and may be much older – Neolithic or Bronze Age, which puts it somewhere between 2500 and 6000 years old. Quite a find!

Oh, and water temperature – that’s still quite high at 19°.

Forthcoming dive spaces: Anyone interested in a wreck dive, maximum depth to the seabed of 40 metres, on Saturday 24 September, please contact me. The wreck is likely to be one of these: Azemmour, sunk in 1918, in 38 metres; Eleanor, also sunk in 1918 and also in 38 metres, or the Clarinda, sunk in 1885, in 40 metres. Can’t say at this stage whether there’ll be a second dive – we’ll do one if the inshore vis is good enough. Meet 0815 to leave 0845.

Dive/vis reports: Friday 16 September – and we headed back to Calshot for more oyster surveys and recovery of gear. Following a large spring tide, which peaked on Monday, Solent vis wasn’t expected to be great – and it wasn’t! However, it was enough to get the job done. We moved closer inshore to recover gear which has been present for 7 or 8 years, and vis was better there at around 2 metres. We decided to cancel Saturday 17 September as some of our divers wanted to go to London to pay their respects for our late Queen, a spectacle unlikely ever to be repeated, and the loss of a day’s diving is a small price to pay.

Dive/vis reports: Sunday 18 September – and it’s an early start and a cold morning so the heating is on in the wheelhouse. A light chilly northerly breeze is blowing as we head to the south-west, and as we go further offshore the wind dies and we’re bathed in bright sunshine with flat seas. Arriving on site on the 1883 wreck of the sailing barque Waitara, slack water is bang on time and everyone is in the water by 0945. Consequently, light levels are comparatively low but vis is around 6 metres but more with a torch. A nice find was a dinner plate bearing the company crest of the New Zealand Shipping Company, owners of the Waitara. Many large congers inhabit this wreck with some holes housing 6 or 7 big eels. Another crawfish was spotted so they’re still here, which is a good sign. A suggestion for the silty/murky vis of July and August could be that following the mild winter of 2021/2022, water temperature, which on the bottom at 60 metres is remarkably high at 18-19°, may have played a part by allowing algae to flourish for much longer, and so reducing water clarity. Not scientific, I know, but it’s a possible answer.

Dive/vis reports: Following the funeral of HM the Queen on Monday 19 September, which was a day off, from Tuesday 20 September we ran out of Gosport. On that day we headed south to dive the wreck of the steamer Penmarch, lost in 1929. Vis was excellent, being easily 6-8 metres with torches visible from at least 15 metres away. This is a great wreck in about 35 metres, mainly upright, though the stern lies on one side and still stands 5 or 6 metres. Next day, Wednesday 21 September, with smooth seas, bright sunshine and no wind, we headed for the WW1 wreck of the steamer South Western in 36 metres. With such a small neap tide, there was a long slack of about 80 minutes, and vis pretty much the same as the day before, probably the best we’ve had all season. No need for torches! Finally on Thursday 22 September, we flipped over to the early tide and headed south again to dive the 1882 wreck of the steamer Gerarda in 30 metres, being in the water just after 0900. We’d never dived this wreck before and wanted to see what it was like. Sod’s Law produced a fairly dark sky with a huge dark cloud over us, while all around was bright sunshine, but nevertheless it was another very good dive. The engine lies on its side and one of the two main boilers has rotted out, leaving only the lower half. The wreck is full of shellfish and congers, though it was noticeable that there were a considerable number of dead congers, all with their throats ripped out – whether before or after death, who knows? Already masses of starfish were engaged in devouring the remains. To summarise, an excellent 3 days diving as the autumn equinox is upon us, and the weather was great for all 3 days. Not much of the season left now…

Dive/vis reports: Running out of Gosport for 3 days, Wednesday 28, Thursday 29 and Friday 30 September, with marine archaeologists, we had 3 excellent days. The task was to clean, record and finally bury the 11.6 metre rudder from HMS Invincible, built in 1744 and wrecked on the Horse Tail Sand in 1758. About 10 tons of sandbags were dumped close to the site, and in vis of 2-3 metres, the bags were placed on top of heavy duty protective plastic sheeting, completely enclosing and protecting the rudder. The purpose is to prevent deterioration from exposure to marine organisms and natural erosion. The rudder, in remarkably good condition, is about 2 metres wide at its base and 30 cms thick, bound with iron straps, and sheathed in pine which would be sacrificial in the event of being attacked by teredo worms. The weather was flat calm and sunny, except on Friday, with a gale warning in force. We opted for an early start to complete the work before conditions became too bad. Divers were in the water about 0730 and everything was finished before midday. By the time I was steaming back down the Solent in early afternoon, the wind from the south-west had increased to force 6 with rain.

Dive reports: Blown out on Saturday 1 October, Sunday 2 October was a free day and blown out again on Tuesday 4 October.

Dive/vis reports: Following a breezy week and a full gale, there was concern the vis would be wiped out for our inshore dive on Saturday 8 October. However, there was a superb neap tide during that week, so hardly any water movement, and the blow was fairly short-lived. Accordingly, when we set off in calm conditions and a bright blue sky, we anticipated a good dive. Arriving on site on the WW1 wreck of the steam drifter New Dawn, vis looked good. There was still a swell left over from the previous few days, but not too bad, and everyone was in the water by 1015. Vis on the wreck was a good 4 metres with a torch, though other divers’ torches were visible from further away. This wreck is full of life with huge shoals of fish, crabs and lobsters. We followed this with a very rapid drift dive across Christchurch Ledge, always a favourite dive. Despite being closer inshore, vis held up quite well considering the blow we’d had, and about 2 metres was recorded. No neolithic artefacts were found this time. So, all in all, a very good day considering we are in the second week of October.

Dive/vis reports: The unsettled October weather continues, and with a big spring tide peaking on the 10th/11th of the month, vis won’t be up to much. Forecasts aren’t good enough to venture out and at this stage it looks like the season is fizzling out. Planned dives from Saturday 15 October to Wednesday 19 October – through another very good neap tide – have been scrubbed due to strong winds. If we get settled spells of weather across neap tides we’ll go out so watch out for short-notice dive spaces.

Dive/vis reports: Sunday 23 October – and it’s torrential rain, thunder and lightning, and a spring tide following a very good neap. We headed up to the Calshot oyster site, arriving on a flat sea despite the forecast of 5’s and 6’s, which didn’t arrive. Surface vis looked OK at about a metre, but on the bottom it was half that, and silt was soon stirred up, all this not helped by recent gales. Mission accomplished – a monitoring device was recovered, placed there some weeks ago to record salinity, algae, temperature etc. This will be analysed to determine what’s happening on site. We then headed for Thorness Bay to conclude a survey of the area before heading home in clear skies and bright sunshine. With the clocks soon changing to winter time we’ll try to get out when the weather settles as long as it coincides with good tides, and a slack water time at a sensible hour.

Dive spaces: I’ll be going out on Saturday 19 November to dive the wreck of the WW1 steamer Baron Garioch in 38 metres. Anyone interested in spaces, please email me. Very good neap tide so there’ll be a long slack. Light levels will be fairly low but vis with a decent torch should be good. Meet 0930 to leave at 10.

Dive/vis reports: The season isn’t yet over! Following weeks of unsettled weather with plenty of wind and rain, there was a brief weather window which coincided with a brilliant set of small neaps, enabling the dive on Saturday 19 November to go ahead. Leaving port in bright sunshine and clear skies, we headed south-west to the WW1 wreck of the steamer Baron Garioch. The north-westerly breeze, wind against tide, did produce a small swell giving a slightly uncomfortable ride, but nothing too much. Everyone was in the water by about 1230 – and all were delighted that vis was an excellent 4-5 metres in ambient light. Water temperature has now dropped to about 14°. After some refreshments we headed north to Christchurch Ledge, the only realistic site given the amount of rain which we’ve had – we needed to be as offshore as possible, but fairly shallow, in order to have any chance of vis. Amazingly, considering recent weather and the time of year, vis was around a metre as divers drifted across the reef on the flood tide. And we were back on the pontoon as darkness fell.

Dive reports 2021

The season was due to kick off on Saturday 10 April, but strong north-easterlies arrived just at the wrong moment and we were blown out. The following weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 April was when we began, diving in Bracklesham Bay checking on anomalies located last year.  Nothing of any significance was found.  The good news is that vis is very good inshore at about 5 metres, the water temperature is about 9° but due to the recent bright and sunny weather we’re having an early plankton bloom, though it’s quite fine at the moment and doesn’t seem to affect the vis.

Over the following two days, Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 April, we were engaged in multi-beam surveys which highlighted a number of seabed features which are currently being analysed to see if they require investigation by divers. The following weekend of 24 and 25 April was blown out.  On Saturday 1 May in glorious sunshine, no wind and a flat sea, we steamed south for the first proper wreck dive of the season on the Clarinda in 40 metres.  As there had been a run of huge springs a few days before, vis wasn’t expected to be great, but it was about 3 metres with a torch – certainly better than expected this early in the season. Water temperature is still 9°. A perfect day to kick-start the season.  Sunday was a free day and on Monday 3rd May – south-westerly gales have set in. No-one is going anywhere.

On the Bank Holiday, Monday 3 May, wind speeds of up to 93 mph were recorded at the Needles. This was bound to affect underwater visibility in the Solent, and so it did.  There was a lull in the weather for Thursday 6 May, when we were diving Bouldnor Cliff in the Solent with marine archaeologists.  We had ice on the foredeck first thing in the morning but otherwise it was a calm and sunny day. Visibility on the ebb tide was never going to be good after the severe winds earlier in the week, but it was about a metre, with water temperature nudging up to 10°. We took the opportunity to film the skipper conducting a single-handed recovery of a simulated unconscious person from the water. This was successful, culminating in the casualty being raised on the lift and moved inboard, where he was placed in the recovery position. Part of the new operating requirements from the surveying authorities is to provide such evidence, to prove that it can be done.  On Friday 7 May, with sunny spells and a westerly breeze, we returned to Bouldnor Cliff to continue the work there. With the weather having settled somewhat, vis improved but hasn’t had time to reach usual levels.  The weekend of Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 May was blown out by more strong winds.  We are anticipating the imminent arrival of the ‘May water’ also known as ‘black water’, so named because it arrives in May!  It also looks black because it is so clear.  Normally it arrives quite suddenly around the first/second week of May, and heralds much better diving conditions for the remainder of the season. 

The dreary, unsettled month of May continues with more low pressure systems crossing the country. Unsurprisingly, we were blown out again on the weekend of Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May.

Dive/vis reports:  On Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 May, taking advantage of the good neap tides, marine archaeologists were again surveying and photographing the submerged landscape of Bouldnor Cliff, east of Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Vis has improved considerably and though Solent vis is rarely fantastic, they were working in vis of 3-4 metres. Severe winds from the south on Thursday hardly affected us, as we were in the lee of the coast, but there was a rough journey back across to Lymington.  Planned dives in the Channel from Friday 21st to Monday 24 May inclusive have all been blown out. A brief lull was forecast for Saturday, but there wasn’t enough time for the sea state to settle down, and so we wait for better weather.

Dive spaces:  There are spaces on Monday 7 June to dive the armed WWII trawler Warwick Deeping.  36 metres to the seabed, wreck stands upright and fairly intact about 4 metres high. Second dive included.  Contact me for further details.

Dive spaces: Spaces available for Saturday 26 June, diving a wreck in the mid 30’s.  Second dive included. Contact Rich on richard@carter-savigear.net.

Dive/vis reports:  Saturday 29 May and the weather is fine and sunny, with no wind. We dived the WW1 steamer Venezuela. Vis wasn’t bad at 3-4 metres, though it was a bit dark, the leftovers from the previous run of big springs. A second dive on the War Knight gave slightly reduced vis, normal for here, but as it was shallower there was much more light. On Sunday 30 May we dived a mark off Brook, back of the Wight, on high water slack, and vis wasn’t good – 1-2 metres. However, later we ventured close under the cliffs east of Freshwater on some rough ground, where conditions were much clearer, though by now a nasty easterly swell had appeared and the wind picked up.  The orecast for Monday 31 May wasn’t good although the weather was warm, fine and sunny – an easterly 5 was blowing and that is far too uncomfortable especially when were over 20 miles offshore.

Dive/vis reports.  On Thursday 3 June we were diving the site of human habitation on Bouldnor Cliff, east of Yarmouth, and the neap tide has meant vis has improved considerably. An easy 5 metres vis enabled much photography and surveying to take place.  On Friday 4 June we decided to investigate an anomaly in 42 metres of water, described as an uncharted wreck. The spot was located and dived, and found to be a rocky reef. Because the tide was so neapy, we were able to divert to a known wreck 2 miles away in a similar depth, and dived that one through a long period of slack water. Vis of around 4 metres in ambient light was quite satisfactory.

Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 5 June we steamed south west to the wreck of the WW1 Norwegian steamer Vikholmen in mid Channel. Brilliant weather, no wind, bright sunshine. Vis was an easy 10-12 metres in ambient light.  The crawfish are still around as a sizeable one was spotted in the wreck. Next day, Sunday 6 June, we set off again to the south west to dive the Messina. Thick fog appeared just off the Needles which reduced vis to 150 yards, improving from time to time to half a mile, then back to 150 yards. As we got further offshore the fog lifted and the dive went ahead. Vis had improved to an excellent 12-15 metres with divers reporting being able to see the surface from 21 metres.  On the return voyage, we encountered thick fog which worsened the closer we got to land. At the Needles it was down to 30 yards – most disconcerting when you can hear the foghorn but can’t see the lighthouse.  On Monday 7 June we had an earlier start and dived the WWII armed trawler Warwick Deeping. The sky was cloudy so sunlight was limited, but vis was an easy 6 metres. We followed this with a dive on the War Knight, in bright sunshine, with excellent vis reported at 6-7 metres, possibly more. That’s around the best it ever gets on this inshore wreck. All in all, a very good few days diving.

On Friday 11 June we headed off to dive the Train Set wreck and to continue to survey and photograph the site. We passed through the good vis and dived in the plankton-rich water instead!  Vis was OK at 3-4 metres, but there was quite a lot of plankton which made for somewhat dark conditions.  We followed this with a dive on the WW1 steamer War Knight, where the vis was a very good 6-7 metres in bright conditions. On Saturday 12 June we headed mid-Channel to dive the 1883 wreck of the sailing ship British Commerce. Vis was great at 12-15 metres, with divers reporting they could see the surface on the ascent at 33 metres.  Next day, Sunday 13 June, we headed again to mid Channel to dive the French steamer Albert in 68 metres. Vis was great again, around 10-12 metres, and surface temperature at 14 degrees.  From Monday 14 June to Friday 18 June, Natural England divers are on board for the week, diving various sites of seagrass, to survey the condition and extent of the seagrass beds. They’ve examined sites close to Yarmouth Harbour, Bouldnor Cliff, Beaulieu/Lepe, the Shrape Mud outside Cowes Harbour, and Osborne Bay. A seahorse was spotted!  Vis generally was quite good, though most dives were only in 2-3 metres of water. On occasions there was less than 1 metres under my keel.  Inshore water temperature is around 17°. The first part of the week was very warm, calm and sunny, while Friday was dull with very heavy rain and a strong northerly wind.

Dive spaces:  There are dive spaces available as follows:  Monday 19 July. Diving the Spyros in 30 metres.  Second dive included. Meet 1015 to leave 1045.  Wednesday 21 July. Diving the Spyros and War Knight.  This is a reverse profile day – shallow dive in the morning with the main dive on the afternoon slack.  Meet 0900 to leave 0945-ish. Contact me if you’d like spaces.

Dive/vis reports:  On Saturday 19 June we steamed out to dive the wreck of the Lapwing in 40 metres. Despite there being thick cloud cover, vis on the wreck in ambient light was an excellent 15 metres. Water temperature is hovering around 14/15°. Next day, Sunday 20 June, we were inshore diving the armed trawler Warwick Deeping in 36 metres. Heavy cloud cover on the way out gradually eased and with no wind we had a pleasant day. The wreck is still substantial and relatively intact, though the wheelhouse has largely collapsed. Vis was in the region of 5-6 metres in ambient light – and better than using a torch, which reflected the plankton in the water and meant vis wasn’t so good.  Following this we headed inshore on the 1896 wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas, where vis has held up very well.

Dive spaces:  There are the following dive spaces available:

Monday 5 July. 2 spaces to dive an unknown wreck in 55-58 metres.

Tuesday 6 July. 4 spaces to dive an unidentified feature in 38 metres.

Wednesday 7 July. 4 spaces to dive the WW1 steamer Redesmere in 38 metres.

Saturday 10 July. 5 spaces to dive the WW1 steamer fluent in 40 metres.

Monday 19 July. 5 spaces available to dive the Spyros in 30 metres. Second dive included.

Wednesday 21 July. 4 spaces available to dive the Spyros again. Second dive included.

Saturday 14 August. 4 spaces to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 53/57 metres.

Anyone wanting more information please contact me.

Dive/vis reports: On Saturday 26 June we dived the wreck of the steamer Spyros in 30 metres. Vis was a good 5-6 metres in ambient light. Lots of life on the wreck. A fisherman’s anchor, lost the previous week, was successfully recovered. At 20 kilos, plus 20 metres of 8 mm chain and 30 metres of rope, this took some time to recover, but it came up OK. We followed this with another dive on the War Knight, always a popular second dive, in 12 metres, where vis was holding up well at 3 metres or so. Next day, Sunday 27 June, SeaSearch were on board again. Sea grass to the easy of Yarmouth was surveyed in surprisingly good vis of 3-4 metres. This was followed by a dive on the Long rock in Alum Bay. Conditions here were somewhat silty, but not bad enough to affect the dive. On Monday 28 June, regulars from Wight Spirit went to Lulworth Cove to celebrate the life of Mike Wilson, one of the regulars, who lost his life in Scapa Flow last October. It was a warm, calm sunny day, and Mike would have been delighted by the good turn-out. June has been a very good month, with not one dive cancelled.

On Thursday 1 July and Friday 2 July, divers were again surveying sea grass beds. First of all, we went to St Helen’s Fort and Priory Bay, both near Bembridge, and then to Calshot and Lepe. Most of the dives were very shallow – often less than 2 metres, but vis was quite good and some good results were obtained. On Saturday 3 July, we steamed south of the Needles to mid-Channel to dive the wreck of the French barque Eugene Schneider in 65 metres. Vis was an easy 15 metres in ambient light, even though the skies were gray, the sun finally emerging when everyone was on their deco stops. Next day, Sunday 4 July, we met on the pontoon, intending to venture mid-Channel again, but he forecast had changed and with winds of south-west 4-6 predicted, we decided to abort.

Forthcoming dive spaces: There are spaces available as follows:

Saturday 10 July. Diving the WW1 British steamer Fluent in 40 metres. Five spaces available. Monday 19 July. Diving the steamer Spyros in 30 metres. Five spaces available. Wednesday 21 July. Again diving the Spyros. Six spaces available. Saturday 24 July. Diving the WWII submarine Swordfish in 40 metres. One space available.

Second dive included for all these dives. Contact me for further details.

Dive/vis reports: On Monday 5 July, taking advantage of a brief weather window, we headed south to mid Channel to investigate a seabed anomaly. A dull, dreary overcast day, with a bit of a chop on the way out, the sea flattened off as we reached the site. One diver went in to a depth of 60 metres to ensure the new site was worthy of investigation, but it turned out to be one huge boulder surrounded by smaller ones, an isolated patch on a flat seabed. These anomalies have to be looked at, as a magnetometer is not always an indicator of a wreck, particularly old, wooden wrecks. As we had plenty of time on the neap tide, we steamed off and decided to dive the WW1 steamer Luxor in 56 metres. Vis was superb, being an easy 10 metres in ambient light – if the sun had been out it would have exceeded 15 metres. Some huge crabs were seen as well as a mature crawfish – very nice to see as they are making a big comeback. By the time divers surfaced, a substantial swell had arrived from the west, indicating the approaching low pressure system, which wiped out diving on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 July.

Dive/vis reports: On Thursday 8 July we steamed out against the left-over swell of the past two days, to dive an unknown and unidentified anomaly in 38 metres. It turned out to be nothing exciting – a small steel barge or large hatch cover, with a double bottom, with lots poking up through the sand, very broken and low to the ground. Vis has held up well despite the recent stormy weather, being around 5-6 metres in ambient light. On Friday 9 July, we headed off to the south-east to dive another unidentified, unknown anomaly in 40 metres. There was fine weather and a light wind on the way to the site, with the water looking clear. Once the target was located – more extensive than yesterday’s wreckage, divers entered the water and guess what – yet another old iron barge, well broken but considerably bigger than the one we dived yesterday. Plenty of fish on site including some monster size congers. But, it’s another to cross off the list. Vis, however, was still very good, at least 6-7 metres in ambient light, and the temperature is creeping up to around 15° – quite a lot cooler than normal for the time of year. On Friday 9 July we headed south-east to investigate another unknown, unidentified anomaly, hoping it might be one of the missing steamers from the early 1900’s. In fact it turned out to be yet another iron barge, quite a big one this time, and obviously quite old and very broken. Vis was great, though, and there were some huge congers on the wreck, and with the absence of any lost fishing gear, had never been fished. On Saturday 10 July, in grey, overcast and rainy conditions, – but with no wind – we steamed to the south-west to dive the WW1 steamer Fluent in 40 metres. Vis was still very good at around 6-7 metres in ambient light, even though the sky was grey, and the sun put in an appearance while divers were decompressing. For a second dive we dived a spike of rock in Alum Bay close to the Long Rock, where vis has remained good. Next day, Sunday 11 July, with SeaSearch divers on board, we headed to Osborne Bay for more sea grass surveys. In flat sea conditions, vis in the shallows was quite good at around 3 metres, with water temperature about 19°. This was followed by a dive in Alum Bay on Five Fingers Rock, a small area of spiky pinnacles and boulders. There was much life to be found here and vis remained good.

Available dive spaces: Dive spaces are available as follows:

Sunday 1 August. Diving the WW1 steamer Luxor in 56 metres. 2 spaces.

Monday 2 August. Diving the WWII steamer SS Deucalion in about 55 metres. 4 spaces.

Saturday 7 August. Diving the WW1 steamer SS South Western in 38 metres. 1 space.

Sunday 8 August. Diving the WW1 steamer SS Londonier in 40 metres. 1 space.

Sunday 29 August. Diving the 1872 wreck of the steamer SS Lapwing in 40 metres. 2 spaces.

Monday 30 August. Diving the 1888 wreck of the steamer SS Saxmundham in 60 metres. 3 spaces.

Friday 3 September. Diving the German light cruiser SMS Nurnberg in 60 metres. 1 space.

Saturday 18 September. Diving the WW1 steamer SS Olivine in 70 metres. 4 spaces.

Sunday 19 September. Diving the WW1 steamer Wyndhurst in about 55 metres. 4 spaces.

Saturday 2 October. Diving the WW1 steamer Oiekast in 62 metres. 1 space.

To book on any of these dives, contact the organiser, Jay, on depth.hound@googlemail.com.

Dive/vis reports:  On Friday 16 July we headed to the south-west, off anvil Point, to dive the steamer Derna in 42 metres, run over by the 23000 ton battleship centurion in 1912. Good vis at an easy 6 metres in ambient light, torches not necessary. Stern stands up well, especially the steering quadrant. Weather is great – smooth, flat seas and no wind. Next day, Saturday 17 July, we again headed south-west but further offshore, to dive the 1874 steamer Vera in 46 metres. vis had improved to 6-8 metres in ambient light. Lots of interest to see on this wreck as well as loads of life – and the weather remains brilliant.  On Sunday 18 July with the weather and sea conditions ideal, we steamed south to mid-channel to dive the WW! Norwegian steamer Kong Guttorm in 55 metres. Great dive, and with vis 10 metres plus, it was possible to see the bow section from the stern – well, as the ship had broken in two and the bow section sank close to the stern, that’s to be expected. On Monday 19 July we were inshore, diving the steamer Spyros in 30 metres. Excellent vis again at around 6 metres in ambient light. we followed this with a dive on the WW1 steamer War Knight in 12 metres. Inshore vis has held up really well – at least as good as I’ve ever seen it on this wreck – and a good dive was had in clear, bright conditions.

Dive spaces: There are spaces available to dive the clipper ship Smyrna in 53 metres on Saturday 14 August.

Dive/vis reports:  With the heatwave continuing, on Wednesday 21 July we dived inshore, first on the WW1 wreck of the steamer War Knight in exceptionally good vis of 6-8 metres. I’ve never known it to be so good. All 3 boilers were visible at the same time!  Commonly, we’d expect vis of 2-3 metres on this close-inshore wreck but conditions are so good that the water has remained clear.  We followed this with a dive on the afternoon slack on the steamer Spyros. Always a popular dive as the wreck is reasonably intact and ship-shape. Vis was still in the region of 6 metres in ambient light, though there was more plankton in the water column than in previous days. Another great day’s diving!

On Thursday 22 and Friday 23 July, marine biologists were on board, this time obtaining seeds and young plants from the sea grass beds. these will be used to grow on and when mature, planted elsewhere to repopulate areas which have suffered sea grass loss.  We dived Osborne Bay, Yarmouth and Bouldnor, where the sea grass grows prolifically.

On Saturday 24 July the weather looked like it was going to be a problem, with strong easterlies blowing through the night. Indeed, on the pontoon in the morning the breeze was still there, but very quickly it disappeared and we ended up with no wind. We dived HMS Swordfish in 40 metres off St Catherine’s Point. Vis was around 6 metres in ambient light, but there was quite a lot of plankton in the water which made the water appear slightly misty. A second dive was across Atherfield Ledge on the ebbing tide, in 4 metres vis, drifting across several wreck sites.  On Sunday 25 July we met intending to dive offshore on the wreck of the clipper ship Smyrna in 55 metres. A dull, cloudy day became much worse with dense black clouds and torrential rain, but with no wind, we had a flat sea. The topside weather conditions meant that the wreck was dark, but vis was good with a torch.

Dive/vis reports: Saturday 31 July was scrubbed – the day before, Friday, Storm Evert came through, bringing 75mph winds at the Needles. Inshore vis suffered as a result and though we were due to dive on the late afternoon slack, the wind was forecast to come up to a 5/6. As it turned out – a good decision, as we went out on Sunday 1 August, with light winds forecast. Heading 26 miles south of the Needles, the sea state was unpleasant – still a swell left over from Friday’s storm, accompanied by a nasty chop. When dives are being sick it’s not good news!  Despite the conditions, we dived the WW1 wreck of the Luxor in 56 metres. Sunny skies and good vis – around 10 metres – a welcome break from the dull skies we’ve had recently.  Next day, Monday 2 August, the breeze died away and the swell reduced, and we steamed 35 miles to the south-west to dive the WWII wreck of the steamer Deucalion. What a great dive. Vis was an easy 12-15 metres at 60 metres depth, with torches not necessary.  All divers said they’d wanted to stay down on the wreck for another 30 minutes at least, it was such a good dive.  On Tuesday 3 August, we’re in the western Solent with marine archaeologists diving the Bouldnor Cliff site.  Warm sunshine, no wind and good vis. What more do you want?  We continued the dives on Bouldnor Cliff on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 August, diving the low water slack – rarely good for vis in the Solent. However, it was such a good neap that vis was 3-4 metres, working through much of the tide, and recovering more remnants of flint tools, as well as auger samples to determine the make-up of sediments, in which there ought to be indicators of past plants and DNA. All work was completed even though there was strong southerly wind blowing – but we were in the lee of it and largely in shelter.

Unsurprisingly, the weekend of Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 August was blown out by strong west to south-westerly winds – no chance of diving in force 6-7.

Dive/vis reports:  The wind finally died away and we headed south on Saturday 14 August to dive one of the favourites, the clipper ship Smyrna. Although it was somewhat breezy on the pontoon, and force 4 winds were forecast, we headed out and as we did so, the wind died until we were on smooth, glassy seas, in bright sunshine. A great dive was had on this wreck, with vis of around 8 metres in ambient light. And for one of our number, it was his 40th, yes 40th, dive on this wreck. Sunday 15 August was blown out by south-westerly force 6 winds.

Dive/vis reports. The unsettled, dull and cool August continues, but we did manage to get out on Wednesday 18 August, to dive the wreck of a steam trawler thought to be the Neree lost in 1926. The forecast was for westerly 3-4, which changed on the morning to westerly 3-5 – not what you want!  In the event, it was pretty horrible, though we had wall to wall sunshine. Channel chops and breezy conditions – but the dive was fine. Vis was a bit lower than expected at around 5 metres in ambient light. A number of free swimming congers were on the prowl, one even snatching a leg off a crab as a diver extracted it from its hole. Never seen that before. Conditions on the way back weren’t much better, with even the western Solent lumpy and uncomfortable until we passed Hurst Castle.

Dive/vis reports. We headed south-east to the 1911 wreck of the Daylesford, off St Catherine’s Point, on Saturday 21 August. Dull, dreary skies continue, but the Solent was calm. Passing the Needles, the effect of a south-easterly breeze against a flooding spring tide became apparent – and it was a bumpy, uncomfortable journey to the site. Water on the surface looked clear, but conditions became dark below 35 metres, with a silty/plankton layer, though vis on the wreck was an acceptable 5 metres. Unusually this year, a torch was essential. Lots of big, free swimming congers in and around the wreck. The journey home was smoother, and an unfavourable forecast for our planned mid-Channel dive on Sunday 22nd meant we decided not to go – none of us wants to head out 25 miles in a westerly 4-5 on a big spring tide, so it was a day off. On Monday 23 August, the wind died away but skies were still cloudy.  We headed south-east of the Needles and dived the WWII armed trawler Warwick Deeping.  Conditions on the wreck were quite dark, but vis was good with a torch, around 5 metres. We then headed north to dive the 1896 wreck of the steamer Joannis Millas, where conditions were much better – brighter and lighter. Divers had a long dive on this wreck, amongst the rocks and gullies, before heading back to port, where the sun promptly emerged! Tuesday 24 August was again blown out.

Dive/vis reports:  The weather improved sufficiently to go out on Friday 27 August. We were diving sites on Christchurch Ledge, setting up sediment traps which will be removed in the future and analysed to determine what they contain.  We were diving in the tide and vis wasn’t great, and is not expected to improve greatly until the current run of big springs has passed.  Saturday 28 August was blown out by north-easterly winds – no good for going to the planned mid-Channel wreck, but we took advantage of a weather window on Sunday 29 August. The wind decreased to a NE force 3, but still it left an uncomfortable sea.  Diving on an unknown wreck south of the Needles, vis was still not great, at a disappointing 2-3 metres, but perfectly OK with a torch.  And with water temperatures around 17/18°, an enjoyable dive.  Monday 30 August – guess what – strong north-easterlies are back and have meant we can’t get out to another planned mid-Channel wreck. I’ll be glad to see the back of August 2021!

Dive/vis reports:  Friday 3 September – we were due to go mid-Channel – closer to France than the UK – but moderate north-easterlies ruled it out. It’s too far to run and get beaten up into the bargain, so we scrubbed. On Saturday 4 September we chose to remain inshore out of the breeze, and had a great dive on the War Knight, with vis a very acceptable 4-5 metres in ambient light. This was followed by a dive on the stern section of the Serrana in the Needles Channel, on the low water slack, where vis was still excellent at 5-6 metres in ambient light. This is a great dive in only 18-20 metres, but seldom visited as you need good neaps, and fine, settled weather. Next day, Sunday 5 September, SeaSearch divers were on board, diving sites where there is no information, in order to build knowledge of what’s there. First dive, on the high water slack, was on the northern part of Warden Ledge, a very interesting spot geologically and for the amount and variety of sea life. Vis was an easy 5 metres. We followed this with a lengthy drift over Thorness Bay, where sea grass is abundant.

Dive/vis reports:  On Monday 6 September, steaming to Itchenor to pick up divers to dive the protected wreck site of HMS Hazardous, from 1707, with calm seas and a light breeze. Vis was excellent, with divers visible on the wreck in 7-8 metres depth. The exercise was repeated next day, Tuesday 7 September, where vis wasn’t quite as good and with a stronger easterly breeze, but all tasks were successfully completed.  Saturday 11 September was scrubbed – just a little too much westerly breeze, coupled with a big tide, meant it was unsuitable for where we wanted to go. However, Sunday 12 September was glorious – no wind, clear sunshine and warm water. Due to tide times, we first had a drift dive across Christchurch Ledge – quite a quick drift, too, where vis wasn’t great, but enough for everyone to stay down for the duration. On the afternoon slack we dived the wreck of the Clan Macvey. Vis was slightly better, somewhere in the 2-3 metres range, which was OK considering we’d just had a run of big springs.

Dive spaces:  The is on space available on each of the days Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September, diving with SeaSeach divers (looking at flora and fauna). Depth unlikely to exceed 18 metres. contact Mike on mikerushworth1@gmail.com

Dive/vis reports:  Taking advantage of some lovely weather, on Saturday 18 September we headed south-east of the Needles to dive the WW1 wreck of the steamer Redesmere. Considering we’re just off the back of a very good neap, vis was a bit disappointing at 2-3 metres on high water slack, but from experience we know that St Catherine’s vis usually goes from mid-September until early May.  Although we long suspected the wreck was the Redesmere, we were able to prove it by reading the ship’s name on the stern steering hub.  Next day, Sunday 19 September, we again headed south-east, this time much further to the mid-Channel wreck of the Inger, a Danish steamer sunk in 1916.  This wreck is also off St Catherine’s Point, and with dull, gloomy weather topsides, the wreck was dark and vis similar to the day before.  Water temperature at depth is 17° – not as high as we are used to for this time of year. And sod’s Law – the sun came out just as we headed back to base.

Dive/vis reports:  With the season now drawing to a close, we took advantage of settled weather on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September, diving with SeaSearch on a number of inshore sites close to Freshwater Bay and Brook, Isle of Wight, and below Tennyson Down and Warden Ledge.  These were new sites to record the flora and fauna, thus filling in the gaps in out knowledge of what lives there. Vis was an acceptable 2-3 metres, though the water was slightly silty, no doubt left over from the last run of big springs. Water temperature is around 19°. With October just around the corner, and with wind and rain in the forecast, there’s not much left in the way of planned dives – just a few left, weather permitting.

Dive/vis reports:  The weekend of Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October was blown out. However, we had a final flourish to the season, beginning on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 October, diving in Poole and Christchurch Bays, recovering sediment traps which were positioned on the seabed earlier in the summer. When analysed these should indicate what the sediment is, where erosion is taking place and how much.  The weather was great – smooth seas and sunshine, with vis ranging from 2-3 metres to as much as 4-5 metres, not bad considering we’re diving inshore in the third week of October.  On Saturday 16 October, we had a full boat and headed to Christchurch Ledge for a first dive, drifting on the ebb tide. Vis was in the region of 2-4 metres. This was followed on the afternoon slack with a dive on the wreck of the Clan Macvey. Known as a slightly silty wreck, with vis about 2 metres, all completed the dive safely. The weather remained benign with calm seas and sunshine, and as a bonus we had a pod of dolphins in Christchurch Bay, leaping clear of the water and following as as we headed back towards Lymington. Probably the final dive of the season was with SeaSearch on Sunday 17 October, diving the western Solent on sites previously unexplored. Firstly, we dived How Ledge in Colwell Bay, an area of rocky gullies and fairly shallow, with vis of around 2 metres, on the ebb tide.  We then headed towards Scratchell’s Bay, intending to dive there, but the wind had picked up and conditions weren’t suitable for diving. As an alternative we dived the rocky outcrop in the corner of Alum Bay. There’s no current this close inshore, and hence the dive was somewhat silty, but nevertheless fresh data was obtained about what lives there. 

All in all – a pretty good season. If we have settled spells of weather on good neaps, we’ll try to get out again before winter closes in.