Our adopted wreck the UB109

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A-Test Challenge

Many thanks to all that participated in the inaugural inter-club 'A'-test competition between Canterbury 326 and Folkestone 501.

Everyone seemed to hugely enjoy the experience - well I certainly did, waving my clipboard around, timing swimmers and telling everyone what to do.

6 Canterbury and 5 Folkestone divers took part with Kamila from 326 taking the winners medal home.

An honorable mention to Brain Robinson for taking first place in the 501 team and Mike, also from 501, who first took the test back in 1974.

The competition will be run again after Christmas.



Plymouth 2019


As the rain lashed down on a chilly September morning in Plymouth and the wind whipping around the Mountbatten Centre causing the ropes to knock against the masts of the dinghies in a rhythmic banging, a slightly mutinous crew assembled for the first of our 5-day diving trip to Plymouth this year. The words ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘keen’ could not be used to describe the 6 divers from Canterbury Divers making the annual pilgrimage to Plymouth.
The group, eventually, arrived for breakfast; first gloomily looking out at the weather and then gloomily looking at the breakfast – it wasn’t an auspicious start to the week.
The first target was to be the Scylla, however, as skipper Ben tried to punch through the waves Adam was earning the name Captain Chunderpants and the rest of the team weren’t exactly too happy either and were contemplating making me, as the organiser of the trip, walk the plank the plan was very rapidly changed to diving Pier Cellars Reef – a shallow, rocky reef of between 6-15m in a sheltered cove.
I dived with Adam and although initially disappointed with lowish vis we pottered around the kelp forest spotting starfish, snakeslock anemones, tube worms and the odd diver or two. Things, however, started to look up when we came across the first, of what was to be many during the week, cuttlefish. I have never seen these before on a dive and was absolutely captivated by them. Some did dart away as soon as we came close but others seemed to be as interested in us as we were in them – and for some reason Adam seemed particularly attractive to the species with several of them during the week closely inspecting him. After 60mins I took pity on Adam and we surfaced to hear of others similarly having a good dive.
The afternoon started to improve and we dived the Poulmic, a French personnel carrier, which was used as a minesweeper during the Second World War. She sank in 1940 after unfortunately striking a mine. The wreck is widely dispersed with a max depth of 20m. Adam & I had a very enjoyable 55mins pottering around the wreck.
Back to port, taking the cylinders for refilling at the shop, shower, sleep/prop up the bar and then off to the Borringdon Arms for dinner – a pattern we repeated throughout the week



We woke on Tuesday morning to a gorgeously sunny, flat calm day and the team - despite the slightly oddly cooked breakfast – were raring to go diving. So with a superbly flat sea we were off to dive the Persier – a large steamer torpedoed off Eddystone in 1945 and lies in a max depth of 30m.
I dived with Rob and we spent an incredibly happy 47mins in some of the best vis we have ever seen off the UK waters, easily 20m. Sea life was plentiful around the wreck with pink sea fans, bass, conger eels and wrasse and shoals of bib. The afternoon we dived the Maine, a wreck less often dived as it’s affected by strong tides and exposed to any heavy sea, however it is a spectacular dive. The vis was slightly lower but a still impressive 10-15m, again lots of life and as Rob and I pottered in and around the wreck we came across Chris with Adam, again, being seduced by another cuttlefish. While on the shotline on our safety stop Rob suddenly sprang to action, he had spotted a camera plummeting through the water dropped by a diver from the other InDeep boat. He dropped down to 10m and retrieved it. A fantastic end to a superb 47mins dive.
Others too had brilliant dives, Adam particularly enjoyed Chris’s demonstration of how to rocket down the shot line to the wreck and time the buoyancy just right so you slam into the floor, the silt eventually cleared.
The trip back and, later in the bar, spirits were high, we’d been promised a drink for rescuing the camera and we only had the slight worry that the weather was reported to be deteriorating overnight – “how bad could it be” we discussed as it was so nice that evening.


Ah – well so much for optimism, Wednesday was worse than Monday. Derek had come down with a cold and decided that diving was not for him and I suspect a couple of others were contemplating bailing on the diving too. Even our skipper Ben usually ‘Mr Optomistic’ was a bit subdued, however, he did assure us that Firestone Bay in the harbour would make a good dive. It’s a wall dive descending to 30m and is full of life. This time I was diving with Chris and soon as we hit the shotline we realised the vis was going to be poor. Not only was it poor it was also dark, I’ve been on night dives that were lighter. Throughout the dive there was also an annoying current which combined with the poor vis and dark conditions made photography a bit tricky. Despite everything Chris & I spent 44mins at a max depth of 26.4m; it was a wall with lots of life - jewel anemones shinning purple, orange, green and gold in the torch light, camouflaged spider crabs and, another first for me, a long-spined sea scorpion. Even more remarkable we managed to navigate back to the shot line. We emerged to find that Rob, with Simon, had found scallops on the seabed and later managed to get everyone but me to try one raw. Yuck.
The afternoon proved challenging to get the team into the water even with Chris trying to buoy up spirits entering the water by tripping up over his fins and head-planting into the sea and me by leaving my weight belt on the boat and spending 5mins trying to work out why I wasn’t sinking. Adam had managed to loose his torch on the wall dive and there was a general feeling of wondering if we’d manage to see anything. Ben came up trumps – Sandway Point in Cawsand Bay, very close to shore, very shallow at 6.3m but the vis was much better at about 5m. After the morning we thought it wouldn’t make for a great dive, but, as Chris & I swam through the kelp we started to notice a rather large number of spider crab shells in the sandy areas, these had been ripped apart – so my optimism was high that we’d find cuttlefish. We were not disappointed and throughout the dive we kept coming across them. Some shy but others staying close displaying rapid colour changes, tentacles stretching up and rapid changes in skin texture. Fantastic. I also spotted a tiny spider crab in a snakeslock anemone (apparently it’s a Leach’s spider crab) the body about 2cm in length. After 70mins Chris started to get cold and was pretty clear in his gestures that we had come to the end of the dive.
Back to shore and then on to the Himalayan Spice restaurant and snooker at the Clovely Arms.



Thursday, according to the weather forecast, was going to be a bit grim but the day was much better than anticipated. Derek felt he was up for diving when he found out the first dive was to be on the Liberty ship the James Egan Layne. So down the shot line Chris, Derek & I went and once on the wreck we moved inside heading towards the stern, passing conger eels, tompot blennies, pink sea fans and cuckoo wrasse. Slightly ahead of the others I came across a John Dory, yet another first. A nice 56mins dive. Others too had a nice dive, however, Adam did manage to loose his weight pouch.
The afternoon we dived the Rosehill, a First World War armed trawler torpedoed in 1917. The boilers are the most spectacular part of the wreck, inside the tubes we found tube worms, anemones, conger eels, crawfish and again the wreck was covered in shoals of bib, the vis was down compared with the morning with the wreck being a bit silty, never the less an excellent dive for 44mins and a great end to the day.


The last day started well, sunny, flat calm and warm, the first wreck of the day was the Scylla, I was diving with Chris again with the detailed dive plan of ‘lets dive in, swim around a bit & come back’, well what do you expect from two Advanced Divers. We pottered all over & under the site and then found ourselves at the bow where Chris became tired and had to have a little sit down. The wreck is now home to an amazing amount of life – wrasse, bib, anemones and Chris found a pipefish. Vis was a good 10+m and we spent a happy 47mins on her.
Regrettably all good things have to come to an end and our last dive was on the armed trawler The Elk. Vis was lower than in the morning thanks to a couple of additional divers – but the site was fantastic, populated by several conger eelsincluding perhaps the biggest one I’ve ever seen, pink sea fans covered the wreck, apparently they are quite rare but they’re everywhere we dived this week, and the usual shoals of bib.
This was a superb week, fantastic company, great diving and the 2 days of iffy weather completely forgotten by the 3 days of fantastic conditions.


In summary:

7 wreck dives
3 reef dives
1 seasick diver - Adam ‘Captain Chunderpants’ Lofts
1 demonstration of why a weight belt should not be left on the boat – Debs
Rob managing to wedge himself in a tube
Adam lofts loosing half his kit
Rob heroically rescuing a camera
Face-plant dive entries - Debs & Chris
Simon fixing his fins while fully kitted up – well it wouldn’t be the same having a 326 trip without Woollett having to bodge something with a knife.
None of us want to see another pasty for the rest of the year.
Oh and we now know what a blended whiskey is.

Thanks to the team of Adam, Chris, Derek, Rob & Simon for making this a memorable trip and the InDeep team of Ben and Hugo ensuring we had some great diving, supplying us with food and drink and ensuring Simon had enough tea.







Canterbury Divers in the news after discovery off Herne Bay


Canterbury Divers members were undertaking a drift dive off Herne Bay in July when they discovered a sea squirt growing prolifically across the sea bed. The visability, of at least 5m, helped to identify the highly invasive species Didemnum vexillum - this is the first time it has been recorded in the UK in offshore waters on the natural seabed.


Heinkel HE-111 Project


Canterbury Divers now hold the licence to dive on, and excavate, the protected wreck of a Heinkel HE-111 bomber that was shot down in the Thames Estuary on 30th August 1940 during the height of the Battle of Britain.  Obtaining this licence has taken an enormous amount of work by club members in terms of diving on the wreck, identifying it, then countless hours spent researching records at Kew, RAF Hendon, and any number of other sources. 
The wreck may be the only H2 variant of the bomber still intact.   At present the location of the wreck has to remain closely guarded in order to prevent unscrupulous looting of the type that blighted the Dornier project on the Goodwin Sands in 2012.  However, work is on-going to establish the condition of the wreck, and a decision will be made as to whether the entire aircraft or any parts of it that are threatened with damage, destruction, or theft can be raised for conservation and display ashore.
At present the sea is doing a good job of covering the wreck and protecting it but the situation is being monitored and, in the event that it uncovers again and becomes vulnerable, work will continue on the site.



Anyone interested in hearing more about the project or in diving on the wreck should contact Simon Woollett via the club website.


Latest news on our involvement Amy Johnson project

Sunday Express 20th September


Simon Woollett's BBC Kent radio interview


Archaeology in the Club

This year Canterbury Divers have been lucky enough to work on three projects for English Heritage alongside commercial archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology.  This has given club members a valuable insight into the way that “proper” archaeology is carried out and has helped us to move forward in our own efforts.
In the summer several members dived on the wreck of an unidentified U-boat off the North Foreland in an attempt to confirm its type and settle its identity once and for all.
Towards the end of the season we supplied divers for trips to the sites of UB109 and UB78.  These dives were in connection with a project to thoroughly record and survey these wrecks at the centenary of the war in which they were sunk.
Later still we were lucky enough to be represented on a project to carry out a surface survey of the wreck of the SS Anglia – again as part of the centenary commemoration.
It has been a privilege to be involved in these projects – even in a peripheral way – and our thanks must go to English Heritage but also to the fantastic team of inspirational characters at Wessex Archaeology – most notably Graham Scott, Toby Gane, Peta Knott, and Steph Arnott.
Most gratifying has been the fact that we were able to contribute something worthwhile in terms of supplying video footage and stills that have genuinely assisted the projects.  Hopefully, there may be similar opportunities in the future.

Amy Johnson

The search for the wreckage of Amy Johnson’s aircraft has kept divers, researchers, and historians busy for many decades – and always without success.  Now Canterbury Divers have taken up the challenge.

The Amy Johnson Project

HBAA Application Form - download the form here


Download your Diver Self-Certification medical forms here and give them to the DO



Always wanted to try scuba diving? With Canterbury Divers it couldn't be easier!

Contact our TryDive Officer for more details

Tom Reid on 07854 088176 or email

Canterbury Divers' Video Night

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'Three Men and a Tent'


'Canterbury Divers' Trip to Scapa Flow'

Canterbury BSAC Ocean Diver Theory Course

Open to all members from any BSAC Club

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Contact: Phil training@canterburydivers.org.uk

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Dive Magazine - read about Tom Reid's first dive off Dover in 'it happened to me' and Carl Freeborn's 'dive off Dover in low vis'






pdated 0Updated 20.04.09Updated 20.04.0Updated 02.12.19



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