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.

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