Wednesday 14th October - HMS Brazen
The first chill winds of Autumn were blowing in from the north east as a small group of die-hard Canterbury Divers (Phil B, Jason A, Carl, Debs, Derek, Nik, myself, and honourary Canterbury Diver ScubaJay) gathered in the car park for a night dive aboard Neptune.
Friday 12th June - Loanda
The evening started well. We all assembled nice and early for a lovely relaxing dive. Captain Perrin was a little worried about the wind but we decided to give it a go and see how lumpy it was when we got out a little way. We all began to pile aboard. Unfortunately, due to a terrible miscalculation of basic maths it turned out that Rob had failed to notice that he had 13 divers for a boat that can only take 12. The look of sadness on his little face will live with me to the grave as he reluctantly put his kit back into his van and agreed to take on the role of "Roger the cabin boy". With all aboard we left the quay - Roger was a furious blur as he worked away at the ropes to the sound of Captain Perrin calling him a "Scurvy Dog".
In no time at all the mighty engines had propelled us at Warp 7 to the wreck site. Roger was given a few quick lashes of the cat and set about rigging the shotline. Soon he was ready and with a mighty 'toot' Captain Perrin "gave him the horn". He threw the shot over the side and John span around to check that it was hooked in. Having decided we had better recover it and start again Roger began to haul the line up - regailing us with a filthy sea shanty as he did so. We circled again and Captain Perrin pored over the sounder ready to give the signal. Meanwhile Roger sat chatting and pleading with everyone to get him a lobster so that the whole trip wasn't a total waste of time. Suddenly, Captain Perrin "gave him the horn" again but Roger was still chatting. With a furious shout of salty old seadog curses Captain Perrin was forced to try again - while the rest of us gave Roger another lick of the cat and prepared to keel-haul him. Third time lucky. Roger got the horn, chucked the shot, and we were nicely in position.
Debs and Del kitted up and prepared to go in first and tie off the shot. Down they went clutching John's self filling lifting bag - designed to make launching the shot weight easier as the diver doesn't need to use their own air. They found the shot, tied it onto the bag, made sure nothing would get caught as it raced to the surface, and cracked open the mighty lifting bag's air bottle. There was a gentle hiss like the sound of an elderly soda syphon, and a few millilitres of air reluctantly fizzed into the bag before it was empty. Debs and Del looked at each other. Would this be enough to lift it? Del decided on the standard "bugger it" response and was all for leaving it where it was - but Debs (ever the professional) cajoled him a little and they manually lifted the bag and weight until the air looked like it might just be enough to get it to the surface. The bag appeared on surface and the rest of the team got ready to dive in.
John and Ian were next, then Kay and Mandy, Matt and Richard, and Chris and Claire all went in. Mandy had been the unfortunate victim of pre-dive kit failure (i.e. she had left her BC on the kitchen table) but, as always, I had a spare one in my car which she valiantly struggled with despite the fact that it was permanently filling up with air. To be fair, it is a while since I have had it serviced (OK, I have never had it serviced).
Myself and Nick were the last pair in and we headed down into what appeared to be potato and leek soup. Soon Roger's shotline began to snake horizontally, then slightly upwards, until we hit the wreck. We tied off my distance line and went in search of goodies. The vis was only about 2-3 metres but with Loanda that's more than enough to have a great dive. I had a plan to take Nick to the "secret" location of the perfume bottles but it soon became apparent that wherever we were was not anywhere near where we would need to be. We had a look at a few bits of broken bottle and things were not looking too promising - but then I saw two big blue claws taunting me and in my head I could hear Roger's little Bristolian accent pleading with us to get him a lobbie. I went down into the hole and grabbed Mr Lobster. Nick very kindly helped my get my goodie bag out despite the fact that he had just noticed some of the long blue beads in the silt near Mr Lobster's house. With Nick's help I bagged the lobbie and then we set about recovering some of the beads. It looked like Nick was going to be able to get some brownie points if he could get enough beads to make up a romantic gift for the better half (thereby winning her arond to the idea that, actually, diveing is a "good thing"). With our haul of booty and seafood safely stowed we headed back against a growing current towards the shotline. We got there in time to see that we were the last pair and that Kay and Mandy were heading up ahead of us. I gave them a moment to clear any pointy bits and then we released the line. We drifted away and began a slow ascent with a three minute safety stop. At 6 metres we could almost hear Kay's excitement as she proudly showed us a goodie bag containing some interesting looking bottles. After several attempts she had finally had a result on Loanda.
Back on board it turned out that Kay and Mandy had both recovered still-corked bottles of what looked like it may be Champagne. I presented Roger with his Lobster. His little face lit up and he said somethinig in Bristolian that I didn't understand. John cranked open the throttles and we raced back to the harbour at 28 knots despite a slightly lumpy sea!!!
All in all it was a fantastic evening's diving. Thanks to John and Sea Explorer, and special thanks to Rob/Roger for not only organising the trip but also valiantly giving up his space so we could all get a dive.
Thursday 28th May
In the year of our lord 2009 we set sail from Dover bound for the mighty treasure wreck "Loanda" - except, hang on a minute, aren't we going the wrong way? Well, it appeared that I had been the victim of a failure to communicate and that we weren't going to Loanda after all. I sat back to enjoy my mystery tour and wondered whether my Loanda-specific gas mix would be OK wherever we were going.
Thursday 28th May
4 of us left Dover onboard the good ship Excel Thu evening to do some treasure hunting on a small mark Gerry had driven over a while ago. There was a gentle breeze and the sea was a bit swelley (made up word?) as it dropped down from the strong winds earlier and the sun was trying to beak through the clouds.
On site we had a very small lump showing on the fish finder in 28m, on the 2nd attempt we had it hooked but the strong tide pulled the shot out and we had another go, hooking it in again.
As he got down to the wreck it was apparent it was a very old wooden shipwreck, who’s cargo had pushed up out of the sand as she sunk, the anchor was hooked into a wooden chest and the one next to it had its lid ripped off by the earlier shotting attempt, inside was the dull gleam of quality non ferrous metal, with coins and cups in abundance.
We shot off a mile or so and dropped the shot on an unidentified freighter in 26m or so standing up to 19m. I was in first this time and as I swam towards the line I could not believe how bad the viz was, looking like thick soup. Normally you can drop below the thick plankton but this went right the way down.
John followed me up and mad Craig spent another 40 min bumbling around in the gloom finally getting some slack at the end of that time. So a bit of a turnaround from last wed on the Hermes, but I think the plankton will have dropped out quite soon.
Sunday 21st May
Today we headed out to dive another new wreck to me the Bill S, this was a new freighter when she was sunk by the Luftwaffe on 10 July 1940. Sitting upright and very intact with the stern blown off in a max of 30m. Dropping down the line the shot was at the stern and we had about 3m of dark viz that improved to 4m with some fair ambient light as slack dropped fully in.
The shot was next to a large hole that I looked into but did not penetrate as the viz was not good enough, this is apparently the engine room and very clean as it was oil engines.
Saturday 20th May
We left Dover early on Sat morning determined to get some diving in despite the plankton bloom and spring tides. Heading towards Dungeness we got to our target to find a big fishing net deployed next to it, so plan B then, a small uncharted wreck we had motored over a little while ago. On the fish finder it looked small and we guessed a trawler or drifter possibly from the WW1 Dover Patrol.
Gerry was in first and I followed soon after, there was lots of plankton and it was quite dark with some tide running, getting to the wreck the decks were around 33m and it was very intact, there was a very faint glow above us which always helps and I had a rummage around the shot area in the 2m or so of viz.
After a slow drift back to Dover dive 2 was on an unidentified sailing ship that just sticks out of the sand and has an interesting cargo. Work is ongoing to identify this but it is from around 1860-1870 from items found, viz was quite poor but a bit of current helped blow the silt away as we dug around.
The Hull is wooden and quite thick but rotted now with a copper sheath, hopefully a few more visits in better viz will have us identifying this one.
We left Dover on Wed with the intention of diving an uncharted wreck quite close to Dover, however the viz did not look great so we decided to cross the channel and dive the Pre-WW1 British Cruiser converted to Seaplane carrier HMS Hermes, where we nearly always get good viz.
On site we had plankton but dropping down the line we had a good 8m of light viz despite the plankton floating around. The wreck is inverted on a white sand seabed that gives good light. She is tilted up on one side, and this allows access.
Getting down to the wreck the shot was on the boreing side of the hull about half way along so up and over to penetrate straight under the decks and start along the length towards the stern, there are some huge lobsters under here but all were hiding today.
You hardly need a torch under her as the white sand reflects light back up. Getting to a familiar break I moved up to the top and found the hole I was looking for that leads back down to what I thought was the engine room but now know is a magazine.
Wednesday 22nd April - HMS Paragon
Having canned our morning dive because of the forecast fog we met at mid-day to load up on Excel 3 and cross the channel to dive on the WW1 Destroyer HMS Paragon.
Sunday 19th April - The Strathclyde
Well done to all that braved the rain, wind and sea conditions today. Hand on heart the information that I had gathered before this event, really suggested that sunday would be the best diving of the week. It just goes to show that even after a lot of weather watching and viz reports, weather still kicked me in the ass. I really should have realised when a cylinder tryed to kill me at the compressor sheds the day before. I also got quite afew text messages from concerned divers that the weather was closing in. Even at Dover, divers from a binned dive boat were looking for places. Sorry our trip is full and we are going..!
Canterbury Divers were Terry, Tom, Derek, Simon, Kay, john, Phil, Rich, Me, Steve, Carl, Beth..
Unfortunately ,a couple of the team didn't make it to the wreck of the Strathclyde which sank about 2 miles from the western entrance of Dover. On site the slack was an hour early so after kitting up, in we went. I was really excited to be the dive marshall even if it wasn't on our boats.
Myself and my buddy had our dive briefing watched closely by Simon Woolett who offered afew suggestions. A text book stride entry from Steve and me got us to the shot and down to our bubble check depth and then to the wreck. The huge neap tide had the shot line lying over the wreck. At the top of the wreck I came off the line and hovered. Conditions on site were dark with low viz. However, in torch light the water was very clear. As we had no shot line to return to it made diving really good. I couldn't wait to see what was in the holds. Steve followed as I outlined the wreck with my torch. I pick up a dog fish and fired it at him which was very funny. I think it was a dog fish day out of the mating season as they were every where so Steve got up close with quite afew. :-)
I had hoped we were heading towards the broken bows where the earthenware bottles are but sadly never found any. On the deck we finned into an over head and a deadend I turned and we got back out to the open. Steve ended the dive here and I blew my DSMB. After a short accent and switching to 70%, I rejoined Neptune..
Most were still on wreck so there was plenty to do helping divers back onboard. Phil clocked up 40+ minutes in a wet suit. John Skinner wondered about bringing a torch next time, Simon, Derek and Tom had some really great finds (Photo's to Debs, please Guys) Beth got a bit frozen (sorry ,a lot) and Terry and Rich went abit green. :-) Kay shared out her cookies in lieu of sauage rolls which I didn't get around to heating.
So, all in all, it was a great day with a bit more experience gained. Thanks again to all that came.
Friday 17th April - SS Hermann and Monarch dives
The well 'ard divers of DUE met in Dover at 0700 this morning to head out and dive the Cuvier, however we had sea mist and heavy rain forecast and as the target is in the shipping lanes need at least a mile of surface viz, so changing plans we decided to hit the wreck we call the Hermann instead which is just outside the shipping lanes.
We call this one the Hermann as Dave has deducted this is most likely what she is, an early model full sail rigged steamship. Heading out we had a nice flat sea and on site some very clear looking water. Large ships passed us in the fog a few cables away and the surface viz was at best a mile.
We soon had the shot in and I could see down it for a good 15m or so it was slack soon after and divers were soon in. I went in last and could not believe how clear the water was, dropping down the line at 20m I could see wreckage and once i hit the wreck at 32m we had damn good viz and broad daylight.This wreck is a great dive in good viz as it is fairly spread out but has lots too see including the huge masts laying on the seabed. I reeled off and followed the hull along till i came upon the bow, on its side and standing at least 5m proud.
Back to the shot but i wanted another look at the engine so off i went again, i really did not want this dive to end, i eventually left on 40 min to do my 17 min of accelerated stops on my 3L stage of 60%
After brunch in Dover we were joined by Debs & Janos and went out to dive the big cable layer the Monarch, sitting 6m proud in 24m, i had not dived her before but she is very big, very intact and has lots of rummage and penetration points, being in Folkstone Bay the viz was a bit less at around 6m which as she is quite silty at times was a bit less - You know who you are.
his was another cracking dive as i worked slowly along to the bow penetrating inside at several points and having a good rummage. I'd not dived this before but several local clubs use her for training dives and I can see why as she is a great dive and very good for training. Some lobsters and silver cutlery also came up off of her.
So another 40 min to a max depth of 24m with a no stop dive on 30% Nitrox.
A boat load of us met up in the Sun at Dover marina to head out and dive the Freighter Carmen today. As we left the sun was out, the sea flat and there was no fog, which had caused Fri & Sat dives to be canned.
The Carmen is in the shipping lanes and we needed at least a mile of surface viz to dive her safely.
Kitting up started and Carl was soon relegated to kit bitch after he ripped the cuff on his suit. Divers were in and I went last.
As I went down the shot the viz was good, there was light and the water was quite warm. On the wreck the viz around the shot was about 4m, I did not bother to reel off and headed off for a circuit.
Back up and along the port side to complete a circuit at the shot. There were only 2 lines left so I cleared the shot and once the last diver had gone as there was a bit of current running I released it for a nice comfy drift off as I cleared my minimal deco, so 30 min on the wreck on 29% for a mere 10 min of stops on 60% deco gas in a very pleasant 8 degrees warm water.
Saturday 21st March
After our cracking dive on HMS Hermes yesterday we went out of Dover on G Wizz's boat Excel 3 today and dived the unidentified freighter we have been trying to ID off of the French Coast.
Friday 20th March - HMS Hermes
We met up in Dover at 0730 this morning in bright sunshine & with no wind, to load up Neptune and head across the Channel to dive the wreck of the WW1 Cruiser converted to Seaplane carrier HMS Hermes, a very impressive wreck similar to the Scapa cruisers off of the French Coast.
Leaving Dover the sea state was fantastic in the sunshine, there was much kit fettling as we headed out and crossed the channel to ever improving water quality.
On site the sea was flat and the water very black, there was a buoy on the wreck but we put our own shot in and it was clear slack was here and we had cracking viz. The first few divers were in when a boat approached us, It was the French Police to warn us not to steal their buoy.
Wednesday 11th March
So a good dive yesterday was followed today by an even better one today as we went out on G Wizz's boat Excel 3 to an unidentified freighter off of the French coast. We had a great flat sea for the run across the channel and were soon on site.
Yesterday we went out on Neptune to dive the WW1 Destroyer HMS Flirt which sits upright and 4m proud in 40m.
We had 8 booked but only 5 were on the boat, so loads of space as we headed out of Dover on a very flat sea that picked up to a lumpy force 4-5 on the dive site.
The water looked very clear but once we stopped there was a green tint, dropping down the shot we had a thick layer of plankton around 6m deep but soon dropped through this. On the wreck it was dark but with about 6m of viz in our torch beams.
Friday 20th February - The Cuvier
After a cracking dive Wed on HMS Brazen the well'ard divers of DUE formed up at Dover Marina this morning to hit one of the best wrecks off of Dover the Freighter/Liner SS Cuvier, that sank on 9 March 1900 after a collision. The sun was out, no wind and no fog - on board we had 5 of Canterbury divers in me, Carl, Simon, Rob and Gerry.
On the way out there was clear flat water and sunshine, on site there was cracking viz and after a couple of attempts the shot was in and it was slack. Divers were soon in and I went last with Graham, he had ear problems and signaled I should continue down, as i dropped through 35m the lights went out and I knew the shot was off the side of the wreck. Landing on the seabed at 41m it was pitch black, but the water was incredibly clear, and next to me was the towering steel side of the wreck. Back up 6m to the decks and as I was trying to find a belay point for my line a scooter went past followed by another, ah there was 3 thinks I and looks to my left as Captain Deco appears and tries to run me down. Graham turned up now, but clipped off his reel and went in the opposite direction to me, so solo diving again for me. Once they had moved off it was up onto the deck and along to the 1st class cabins. There was about 5m of dark viz and it was ideal for a rummage through the cabins. I was having problems reading my 'puter in the light and had to go on top of the cabins a couple of times to do this in the better light. I noticed several big crabs but wanted a lobster, none big enough were on show though.
After a bit of a O Fu*k momment, leaving myself 25 minutes to get to Dover+load kit etc I turned my van into a formula one car over-taking on blind bends, speeds in excess of 85 miles per hour and general white van man type stuff (ed: please note not something we encourage at Canterbury Divers, but knowing Rob we're not suprised). I had a missed call from Mr Oliver so I knew I was in trouble, however I did make it about 10 minutes before the 2pm leave. Everyone was early and just wanted to get going. (Where are you Guys)
Well DUE got the New Year off to a cracking start with a dive today 4 Jan 2009 on the wreck of the 2286 Ton steel hulled and 4 masted Barque the Afghanistan built in 1888.
Sunday 21st December - The Cuvier
After a far bit of weather watching and a long chat with Dave of Neptune we decided to go out for the Cuvier today despite the borderline weather forecasts. A main factor was that I knew there was viz out there from when i crossed the channel on a ferry on Thursday afternoon.
At Dover we met in the dark and with very little wind, by the time we left it was light and the sea did not look too bad. We covered the 16 miles or so to the wreck quite quickly and with the wind behind us it was a smooth ride other than when we crossed the shallow brown water over the Goodwin Sands.
Amazingly my guarantee of viz was meeting some skepticism as we were about 4 miles from the dive site but as we got closer it improved till we were on site and it looked damn good
As we shotted the wreck the wind got up and typically we had the strongest wind all day as we kitted up and slack was a bit late, however Glyn was soon in and tied us off while I helped kit people up and drop them in.
By the time I was ready to go Glyn was up with a big bag of spidge so my turn I was using my Seaskin undersuit and thermal boots for the first time and as soon as I was in I had a floaty feet problem.
Keeping my feet down a bit I was off down the shot with a bit of current still running, I could soon see the wreck and how good was it 8m+ of very clear nice and light viz.
The shot was over the stern hold and you could look through the holes in the deck at all the crockery lying about. Clipping my reel off to the shot I did not bother reeling off but sorted my buoyancy out and dropped through a hole into the hold, the viz was very good in here and it was very light, after a circuit of the hold where I had my feet nicely under control I moved up onto the deck and off towards the 1st class cabins having a slow mooch about in this great viz.
I had a good look around the cabin area before a slow return to the shot where I made sure it was clear and despite having lots of gas and not wanting to go I decided at 10 degrees I had done long enough and up I went for a slow ascent and the normal stops on 60% deco gas after 30 min on the wreck with a backgas of 26% and a max depth of 38m.
Back onboard lots of grins as we all decided that was a great dive with great viz and even Subaquaman was happy with the viz.
A bit of a lumpy run home to Dover but back in for a Sunday roast and the footy.
Saturday 9th August - The Strathclyde
Zero Viz and Atlantis Divers had Neptune booked today and had a few spare spaces so we (me, Debs & Carl) joined them in Dover for what should have been a 2 dive day, however with the strong winds forecast for later on we stuck to a single dive on a local wreck.
I was diving with Tom Roberts and we were the last in dropping down the shot to find a adequate 3m or so of viz. Getting to the bottom of the shot which was on the Port side of the wreck, there were a group of divers faffing around but I caught sight of the waister tied off above them so cut over to this and tied of my line.
We then crossed the wreck and turned left at the starboard rail and went off towards the bow, which we soon came across I then tried to tell Tom this but my hand signals were lost in translation.
Meanwhile Carl & Debs were happily pottering about spotting numerous lobsters (one of which was enormous), lots of edible crabs and a large conger and picking up (& discarding) pottery. Debs was back on the boat, to find most of the twin-set divers had finished their dives, after 49mins but Carl was another 8mins due to his pitiful Nitrox mix.
Turning around I reeled in back to the point we had crossed the wreck then carried on the opposite way towards the stern, having a nice slow mooch about in this great wreck. After a while I got to the end of my line and as discussed borrowed Tom's reel and carried on, till we got to the broken off stern section where the better penetration points are, after a look around we headed back to get back to the shot after 40 min, as I was on 30% I had 1 min of No-stop time left, while Tom on Tyre Gas had 18 min of stops fortunately after he switched to 74% this was reduced to 8 min.
So a max depth of 28m in 17 degrees water for 55 min with 3m of quite light viz, a rather good mornings dive made even better as I was in my Semi-Drysuit again which was just right in these conditions.
We set sail with a fair wind and a hearty crew (with the exception of Rob who was full of foreboding about crap vis and why couldn't we go further out, etc, etc, etc.).
Upon arrival at the Loanda site we were all a little worried that we only seemed to be about 100 yards off shore. Surely Captain Perrin had put us in the wrong place??? However, we needn't have doubted him as he soon had the shot over the side with the help of crew members Craig and Libby - and down it went towards a very large blob on the sounder.
Debs and Carl were first in and (along with Rob and his scooter), after a bit of lift and shift, managed to tie off the shot at the lowest possible point they could find on the wreck. Nice. Up came the bag and in went Derek and myself. After a brisk 200 metre swim to the shot we paused to get our breath back and down we went into the inky darkness. The shot line snaked down, along, and up to the tie off point where we reeled away in search of treasure.
We spent the next 45 minutes poking about in two of the holds and came up with a goodly haul of tat - including a miniature mug type glass with handle that Del found - and three full perfume bottles (along with some still corked substance that looks like ginger beer, and various other bottle type stuff). Eventually my torch (which I had been charging from a caravan battery on my way to Dover - don't ask) gave up and I was plunged into darkness. We headed back to the shot but got separated. After the usual separation drill (thinking "he'll be alright, I'm off.) I got to the shot and untied it - grabbing great handfuls of line as it snagged on every possible bit of the huge wreck as I drifted across it. A healthy 34% meant no deco beyond my safety stop so I surfaced to see Del's DSMB only a few feet away.
Back on board we all compared spidge and Rob decided that it had been a f**king cracking dive after all. He had a nice lobby for his dinner and I clutched my perfume bottle in glee all the way back to the quay. Unfortunately, due to a butter fingered key passing incident we all then spent the next couple of hours trying to get Del and Debs' keys back up from the bottom of the harbour. Deb found hers but a few of us tried to get Del's without success. Rob, Carl, and myself managed to construct a "pants hooking device" to poke through Del's sunroof gap so that he could get a lift home in proper clothes rather than his wetsuit. To cap it all, when I got my kit together to go and explore the harbour bed I must have dislodged my perfume bottle from its safe stowage and just managed to hear a distant "roll, roll, splash" as it left the quay in the darkness and plummeted to the silt below. Bugger. Anyone fancy a return trip soon?
Sunday 27th July - The Brazen
We set sail from the slipway aboard the mighty Sea Explorer (or Animal II as I call it) with a flat sea and hot sunshine. Skipper Jon reliably informed us that the six mile trip to Brazen should take about 15 minutes - so we all hung on for dear life and Jon opened up the throttles. 15 minutes later we were at the Brazen (or were we???) several minutes of motoring around (and one call to Neptune for revised marks) and we were there. Jon and his crew (Libby) shotted the wreck.
While we all got kitted up at leisure in the acres of space that are available on deck. Debs and Carl were about to drop in when Carl realised his mask was broken. Being a resourceful science teacher he immediately produced his spare mask (also broken). However, he made one good one out of the two bad ones and off they went into what looked like pretty good vis. In no time Jon's self inflating shot lifting bag appeared and Derek and myself followed them down the shot.
At 18 meters I attached Jon's "emergency DSMB" and down we went into the gloom with my top quality Russian Army Surplus kit happily free flowing like a bugger.
At the wreck it was clear that vis was pretty good (about 6-7 metres) and there was plenty of light. The shot was on the stern near the torpedo tubes and there was plenty of opportunity for rummaging around as the sand bank seems to have shifted a lot since I last dived this wreck. Derek and I did a fair bit of poking around (there are now swim-throughs right across the boat) and access to several rooms is easy. We spent a while in a room with lots of electrical switchgear (Derek brought up a "100% British" ceramic switch that looks really good). After a while exploring the stern (including my failure to bag a lobster that slipped my grasp) we headed off towards the bow across the sand bank. The bridge is exposed and there are further penetration opportunities here. Eventually air and deco got the better of us and we headed back to the shot. However, it was gone. I think Richard had encountered some problems and he and Alf had to cut short their dive and release the shot. So we bagged off and drifted gently up into the sunlight. Getting back onto Jon's boat is easy enough in a flat sea but the boarding ladder might take some getting used to in rough weather.
Once aboard we regailed each other with tales of what we had all seen - and tried manfully to consume the complimentary tea and biscuits despite Jon's insistence on going full speed (50 knots????!!!??). All in all it was a great dive on a wreck that has changed for the better since I last dived her. She is now much more exposed with lots of opportunity to explore and poke around. Can't wait 'till next Wednesday when we are hoping to carry on our odyssey of wreck rediscovery by visiting Loanda.
Saturday 19th July - Whitstable Harbour Day
After the obligatory full English Dave and I set up the stand on the North side of the harbour.
It was a sunny though rather windy day. The harbour was packed and lots of people came to see us. Feeling like a couple of goldfish we were often taunted through the glass by children with their drinks & sweets. Later Dave played a game of pat-a-cake with them giving mum and dad a chance for a break and time for a chat. Interestingly many of the very young ones thought it was scary and were reduced to tears. Perhaps next time we’ll have a banner saying “Come and see the scary divers”.
A very good day and one that put us in the publics eye for all the right reasons.
Also many thanks to Clive and Mike for their help and all who came along to say hello.Chris
Saturday Dive 1 - I had Neptune booked for 2 days diving this weekend and we had watched the weather all week as the big SW Winds blew clean water up the channel, and were forecast to drop off for the weekend.
was in late to find a stunning 12m+ of viz and broad daylight on this fantastic wreck, the shot was in the forward hold and I clipped my reel off and went headed up towards the bow, straight into the forward winch rooms for a great swim around in here, then up onto the bow and a look down at the seabed off of here.
2 Portholes had also come up and Carl had picked up the ships sextant.
Dive 2 - After lunch we headed out again but had to change targets due to the wind again and dropped on to the Laristan which had a great 6m of viz for a nice pootle around. I managed to wrap myself up in my line then cleared up some fishing net before getting back to the shot.
We set out of Dover today with a full boat and despite the doom and gloom from the Met office had a flat calm sea.
Dive 1 - U8
First target was the early model U-Boat the U8 which was built in 1910-11, this Sub is very unique in that it was spotted and attacked while trying to get through the Dover Barrage and was the first U-Boat sunk by the incredible Dover Patrol, she was damaged after attacks by HMS Viking and HMS Ghurka and ended up surfacing to surrender before sinking on 4 March 1915, an event that was all over the national papers at the time.
Today we had a limited slack as we dropped down the line to find a bit of current running over the wreck and a dark but clear 5m of viz. The wreck sits in a general max of 36m with a scour under the stern to 38m.
Dive 2 - B2
This single compartment B Model Sub was built in 1904 with a displacement of 316 Tonnes and is the only one still in existence today, she was on an exercise off of Dover on 4 October 1912 when she was rammed by the 22,500 Ton liner SS Amerika just forward of the conning tower, with a loss of 13 of the 14 man crew.
For nearly 100 years she has sat on the seabed off of Dover, and in the past was buried from the bow to the conning tower in sand to a max depth of 29m. Today we dropped down the shot to find her in 33m so after a look around one end and thinking the props were buried me and Harri moved along her hull having a good look around till we found the conning tower at 29m, strange i thought, but it should be buried past here then after a look at this and the open hatch we moved on.
Saturday 31st May - Uncharted Wreck
Me and Captain Deco had booked up to go out with G Wizz and Craig on their boat today and we arrived at Dover to sunshine and a very flat sea. After loading the boat we headed out of the Harbour with 3 targets in mind and after some limited discussion decided to go for an unknown and uncharted wreck.
We had a very pleasant run up to the dive site during which time Captain Deco admired some of Gerry's odd tat on the boat, one item a brass plate got very close attention until Jay having used his Clouseau detective skills decided the writing was legible and said "Sqinder" so we now had a brass plate from a Squinder.
Arriving on site Gerry then showed Jay how to shot the wreck using the tidal boil off of it to locate the wreck, and then use the Sqinder to get the shot in the right place. The wreck stood up 5m proud from the seabed at 29m, so our my 28% and 56% were not quite the right gasses for today.
Gerry was in first and secured the shot, then me and the Captain were in minus our stages and down the shot in some nice but slightly cloudy 5m of light viz. The shot was in a hold at 28m but there were so many fish around us we could not see where it stood up and which way to go. After a bit we swam into the bulkhead and followed this up to some cabins and the bridge area.
Thursday 29th May - El de Bayo & Seine
We went out of Dover on Neptune yesterday to dive the El de Bayo in the morning and the Seine (Champagne wreck) in the afternoon. After the strong winds and rain overnight it was a lovely flat calm day as we bimbled out of Dover for a slow run up to the South Goodwins for dive 1 on the El de Bayo.
I have dived her twice before, the first time in 12m of viz, which is when I did the sketch and the 2nd time in a very dark 3-4m of viz, today we had something in between with a darkish 6m or so, there was enough ambient light to see around and to give a good idea of exit points on the swim throughs, unless your name is Rob.
Dave had the shot in just short of the broken off bow on the Port side, and Brian was in and had it tied off nicely. I was in last with the responsibility of releasing it at the end, so had to ensure I was the last up, so had a plan involving at least 40 min on the wreck.
Captain Deco was after promotion on this dive as he had a twinset of 22%and no deco stage, however between Rob and Colin they sorted him out with a stage and a means to carry it so he did not keep us out there for an extra hour or so.
At the stern break i had a rummage around the bulkhead and then headed back along the port side once again having a good rummage back and forward across the deck until i got back to the shot on about 35min. I then had another look around this area while Colin returned as the last diver and headed up.
Sat 17 May - An unknown and the Traquair
Went out of Dover today on Gerry's boat to have a look at a couple of local wrecks, due to the strong winds we needed to stay close in and sheltered by the Cliffs. As it was shallow wrecks I was on a single 15L and Pony today, which was a nice change from the twinset and stages.
Jumping in on an unknown we were looking at 33m max, however the shot landed in a bit of scour, Gerry had gone in first and secured it and I dropped down the line in a very still period of slack to gradually deteriorating viz. My suit was leaking in all the normal places and the water was 12 degrees warm.
15th May - HMS Hermes and HMT Jacamar
Had a full boat out of Dover yesterday as we went across the Channel to dive HMS Hermes a Pre WW1 Cruiser converted to Seaplane carrier, weather was good but we had some large swells still that nearly caused Madam Poisson de Chunder to abuse her sicky hat again.
Back in Dover for some food and half bailed out of dive 2 so with only 6 of us diving we went for a small wreck which still has a Bell on her somewhere
As our trip across the Channel to dive HMS Hermes had been blown out on wed, I had quickly booked up Neptune for Friday as the weather forecast was looking very good. I had a bit of a sweat getting the last of the minimum of 6 divers together but in the end we had enough and out we went. The sea was flat, the sun out and we only had a half full boat so loads of space.
Andy Mumford, Paul Oliver, Madam Poisson de Chunder, Captain Deco, Colin Young, Adrian Jones
Dive 1 – Cuvier
On site Dave soon had the shot in and down we went, me and Madam Poisson de Chunder went first with the job of securing the shot line. We had a careful dive plan calculated on our near perfect gas match (Madam – Trimix 22/45 @ £45 and 50% for Deco, me Nitrox 30% @£2 and 61% for Deco).
I had to make two attempts to tie off the shot as I had too much rope and got a birds nest, meanwhile Madam had her reel sorted and we moved off only to stop and go back to untangle Colin who had committed the cardinal sin of getting himself wrapped up in a Cave Divers Line. After telling him off for his Muppetry we untangled him and moved off again towards the stern having a good mooch and ferret. After a while I found a great hole in the deck into the hold, that looked just big enough, and I could see another hole in the floor of this hold down into the lower hold which is the one to get into. I dropped into the hole and my svelte like figure easily fitted in, so I sank down, wiggle wagging my torch at Madam to let her know what I was doing, she was obviously not going to react to signals from a poxy Greenforce Torch and carried on admiring the perfect belay she had just done. I now had my eyes at deck level with just the top of my head above deck as I looked across the deck at her about 6m away, I then decided to go let her know where I was going, however we then got distracted by other stuff and ended on carrying on to the stern, where we turned back.
As we went back we came across the spidgeing frenzy as Captain Deco and Adrian bagged up the Porthole, and carried on back to the shot, once everything was clipped away we had a few more mins around the shot then up for the deco, as my slow ascent and Madams deep stops stayed roughly together. At 6m we had Jay Spidge Dancing and grinning away, till we finished our stops at the same time and headed up to hear the many telling of the story of Captain Deco’s Porthole.
So 64 min to a max of 37m in 10 Degrees water with a darkish but nice 5-6m of viz.
Dive 2 – Pomerania
This is a very popular Dover wreck of a liner sunk in 1878, we went out not expecting much viz and got that, diving as a 3 myself, Madam and Captain Deco fumbled around in a dark 1m or so of viz, with so much sediment in the water it was like diving in a blizzard, we had no green glow so could not tell if we had entered the wreck at all and called it a day after 25 min.
Max 27m on 32% in 10 Degrees water for 29 min, on a character building dive.
Dive 3 – Heron (Neptunus)
Having got home at about 2230 Fri night I was up at 0500 to get to Dover and out on Gerry’s boat Excel 3 for today’s fun, we left Madam in bed and Captain Deco driving aimlessly around Kent...
We had a fantastic flat calm sea and the sun was out as we headed down to Dungeness and dived the Heron, a steamer that sank after a collision in 1947. The water looked quite clear as we got there but slack was very early so we got in to find about 3m of lightish viz, the first time I have dived this wreck, it is the one that Dave Batchelor got the bell off of that is on Neptune, and that was after they had been diving her for 20 years. Neptunus was her original name.
We were coming up on bags off of this one so after 35 min I sent mine up to drift off having not really been able to get a good feel for this wrecks shape. A nice dive though and well worth another visit.
Max of 30m on 30% for 37 min in 10 Degrees water.
Dive 4 - HMS Paragon
After lunch we were going for the Queen off of the South Goodwins, but the water looked pants so Gerry decided we would go over the Channel and dive HMS Paragon, after a great crossing we hit this wreck which sits in an area of strong currents and bright yellow sand, and gets great viz but a short slack. It’s a Destroyer sunk in 1917 and sits 5m proud in 29m.
Dropping down the shot with Roy Plummer we soon had the wreck in view and a very nice and light 6-7m of viz. Working to the back of the wreck I did a good long swim through then went back and found Roy, we then worked along the top of the wreck till he followed Nigel who later sent up a very heavy and impressive brass torpedo tube cover. After 30 min the currant was up and clouds of plankton were blowing over the wreck greatly reducing the viz so up I went.
Max 29m on 30% in 11 Degrees water for 37 min.
A rather good 2 days diving off of Dover/Dungeness/Calais with some fantastic conditions.
After lots of last min calls yesterday we had a full boat on Neptune today out of Dover to dive the Cuvier, our favorite wreck - 12 Divers and 3 crew which would have 14 in the water.
The Sun was out and as we left Dover on a nice flat sea we had good quality water immediately. On site though it looked rather green and bitty as we have an early May plankton bloom; the shot was soon in and it was slack an hour early, so kitting up started.
During this though while moving out of someones way I caught my suit and ripped a hole in the ass. A few had gone down when I jumped in with fingers crossed that the hole was just on the outer material, but i soon had a flush of 9 degrees water filling my suit, so straight onto the lift I went.
Meanwhile Andy Mumford had a Death Box Failure at 9m as he had not done the full Death Box Divers Pre-Dive Prayer so he bailed out to a leaky reg and ended up on his snorkel as he returned to the lift.
Madscuba had a free flow that no amount of shutdowns and Nigel's repair efforts on the wreck could not fix, so as he was on Indies he had a shorter than planned dive. He did consider swapping his stage reg over, but at that depth he would have needed it on the stage soon after completing the task so binned it.
The others however were having a great dive as a mild current ran through the wreck clearing the silt as they spidged. Carl had this feeling of the wreck trying to suck him deeper inside as he found a nice selection of crockery. Rob was wizzing all over the place on his scooter not realising that he was losing deco gas till he tried to use it, but he had enough backgas for his 40 min of stops, however he found several available stages on the shot and used them to complete the deco. So on the boat everyone was back, most with big smiles as the wind started to get up from the North East and the temp started to drop and much top quality spidge was admired.
Water was 9 to 10 Degrees and there was about 5m of viz despite the early May bloom. Next trip:- HMS Hermes on Wed 30 Apr, spaces available.
31st March - The Cuvier
After yesterdays cracking viz on the Mandovi a boat load of us left Dover on Neptune to dive, probably my favorite wreck, the ever impressive liner Cuvier.
I noticed Rob (Trebor) waiting around so took the chance to blind him with my torch to get him back for doing the same to me on the Latona a few weeks ago moving off we started to rummage our way through the cabins, Chasey grabbing a big lobster then letting it go as it was in berry.
30th March - The Mandovi
After a couple of worried days of weather watching and nearly canning the dive 10 of us went out of Dover today on Neptune to punch into the Force 3 waves for 12 miles to the site of the Mandovi off of Dungeness.
So a rather good day out in some 8.7 Degrees water with up to 12m of very light viz at 37m
After some debate yesterday about the weather we decided to head out of Dover still today, but not to cross the channel and do our original target the Cruiser HMS Hermes off of Calais.
Had the chance for a birthday dive today, so jumped at that.
Had the whole morning to sort my kit out, and just as well.
Warmed a twinset and my suit up next to the boiler, then when I rigged it up found it only had 150 Bar which would have done for the dive, but with the cold conditions I did not want extra hassle if I had a cold induced free flow.
So swapped that for me other twinset, 210 Bar of 30% that will do nicely.
Now came the regs palaver, after a mix and match which took over an hour and involved lots of free flowing I had cobbled together 2 working regs from 5 and I appear to have lost a DS2.
Anyway at the last minuet I am ready to go and off to Dover.
Paul Oliver(including reports from our globe trotting diver Jackie Mac)
Rob called me on Wednesday to say a dive was being organised by Roy from Dover BSAC on the Neptune - meet time at 0800; Paul emailed round the club that evening and 4 out of 8 divers were from Canterbury BSAC. A happy crew set off in fantastic weather, still debating over the target as we set off; Teeswood was vetoed - Rob was about to stage a mutiny - and the initial target was the Strathclyde. Unfortunately the vis looked soupy so we went further towards Folkestone were the vis was better. Rob & I shot down the line - my cold not bothering me too much. At the bottom Rob reeled off and we went for a pootle around the wreck. Vis was a good 3m and a cracking wreck it is too, we went towards the stern dropping down to 32m to look at the huge prop with the large stern arching overhead, then we moved towards the bow passing a porthole, edible crab, 2 large winches at an average depth of 29m. We got to the end of Rob's reel and I clipped on and reeled off further down the wreck in perfect slack tide. While Rob stuck his head into various parts of the wreck I valiantly wrestled with a scallop which I stuffed into by bag - regrettably no more could be seen and as I was on 28% nitrox I turned us back a little earlier than I wanted to at 7mins of deco time. I left Rob at the bottom of the shot line to potter around a little longer and in dead slack I finished 10mins of deco. A lovely dive.
17th October - MV Teeswood
We had a full boat out of Dover last night. Roy the plumber, Nigel Ingram, Madfish, Scubamad, and quite a few divers from Dover & Folkestone clubs.
It was dark before I dropped in. I was diving with Scubamad; however, after exchanging ok signals at the bottom of the shot, I followed the wrong line and ended up with the wrong diver on the other end. Retracing back to shot, I clipped on my own line and off I went. The wreck is on its side, topside has many features including bridge at the stern and the accommodation towards the bows. The underside of the hull is a little dull and unfortunately this was where I headed. Reaching the stern and props, I continued along the stern until my reel finished. On my return to the bridge, noted by the hand railing and portholes, Nigel was tying in the waster. The viz had improved to 2-3 metres now the other divers had gone. So I headed out to look around the bridge and the portholes. My Nitrox21 was a bit weak for the dive and the deco was clocking up. So up to eighteen metres I went and switched to 50 percent. It was a bit of a mission to get back on the boat as the lift was out of action. The skipper Dave Batch cobbled something together and the lift slowly raised me up. Madfish climbed on board on all fours shouting for help. Roy the plumber, scubamad were already on board and Nigel Ingram completed the head count. Roy was proudly showing a Sea Bass which he'd caught - which was very impressive. Big Al passed around the hot sausage rolls which were very welcome after an hour in 15 degree water. A really enjoyable dive which I hope to do again.
13th October - HMS Brazen
More diving on HMS Brazen this weekend, as myself and Debs return to Fifty Fifty diver for more brazen activities. This time two boats left the public slip way “fifty diver" and its older counter part "fifty fifty". Each boat packed with twinset and stage divers and a sprinkling of single cylinder divers. It was a late meet - on site for about 5 o'clock. Good weather and good top side viz, all expecting another top quality dive.
Down the line 'perrin' style had me covering the 25metres in no time just stopping short of the sand bank, which covers and uncovers the wreck. Debs reeled out (ed. Rob's cunning plan was to make out that he didn't know wether or not to reel out suckered me into grabbing my reel!) into the current, starboard to portside passing a sand bank and large netting (the debris field). The deck littered with bent and twisted metal hides a square hatch with a ladder going down into the sand. We approached the wreck high up over the decks from the stern, to amidships, to the bow. The deck is peeled way where a large gun sat, only the gearing remaining. A large boiler is also there with brass taps on the bottom. The deterioration has exposed the inner compartments which we have a look into - I got to see my first port hole from the inside out with the bolts or dogs to open it. The next noteable part of the dive was the large deck gun. It stands upright, points at a 70 degree angle and is approx 4metres long. I want to say it points towards the stern??? I picked up a shell from the base of the gun which was about 10kg and about the size of a pony cylinder (ed. 'picked up a shell' how to lose a buddy in one lesson!).
Continuing towards the bow it gets quite broken up or as I thought completely covered in sand. The viz was reduced a bit and I lost orientation on the wreck. I was confronted by a huge eye-let right on the nose of the Brazen. The bow is twisted off and is complete and laying on her side. This was indeed a surprise. This makes easy access into the bow which is partly filled with sand. Amazing.
Debs signalled a turn-round and off we went back to the shot. As no more lines were clipped on I released the shot and tied the waster in. I can report that the Hms Brazen is STILL a great wreck to dive and would suit everybody from the very experienced to new sport divers. So another 45minutes bottom time 12minutes deco and 61minutes runtime.
8th October - HMS Brazen
A last minute dive was put together yesterday on Fifty Fifty Diver in Dover after some reports of good viz on HMS Brazen the day before. Myself and Debbie booked on with skipper Don. Ever though the boat was full (10 twinset divers and two single cylinders divers) we made good speed to the Brazen at 30 knots. Debs and I were diving together and I reassured her that my diving skills and air consumption were much improved from when we last dived together (see Debs for other stories if you must).
Down I go clip on near the shot line and wait for Debs who arrives a moment later. Debbie takes the lead along the port-side from the stern pointing out portholes and the torpedo launcher which we swim under. Large deposits of sand gives only 1 metre of clearance from the bottom. The current is running across our path so decide to retrace our line, round the stern and continue starboard side.
There's no real need for a torch except for looking in holes along the hull. About 3-4 metre of viz and good light levels. Heading towards to bow the superstructure is less proud of the sea bed than the stern. The main deck stand approx 4 metre proud in 27 metres. Even though the bow is only half a metre proud it was great to see the front of this great ship. A large winch dominates and cleats line the front section. The trip down the starboard side is interrupted by a reel change which Debs is happy to do and more than likely use up that one as well. However, I decided to turn the dive to recover the line, Debs indicated that she had more than enough air to continue. Slowly retracing the outline of the Brazen we returned to the stern. Up onto the deck there are many features which I couldn't make out, a circular hatch leading to other decks, large deck gun points upwards were a few I did recognize.
After a good 45 minutes on HMS Brazen we return to the shot for about 12 minutes deco and 1 hour in the water.
A very enjoyable dive.
6th October - Dover Sub weekend
Dive 1 - UC46
After a cracking days diving on the Friday I was up early to fill my cylinders with a cunning mixture of O2 and Air and waited with fingers crossed for the outcome, as I was doing this Carl turned up to collect his cylinders hoping for a reasonable mix as well. After some topping off we headed off to Dover and the meeting on Neptune.
We had a full boat and 2 diving crew members but Neptune has room to cope with all this, except the Dude was onboard taking up 3 places as usual. Out the harbour we went into a bit of a lumpy sea which we had to punch into as we were heading into the wind.
Finally on site Dave soon had the shot in and it caught on the wreck. We had several changes of plan about who was the expendable diver going in first on this one and eventually Glyn went in to sort the shot out.
The target was the UC46 a UCII Class German WW1 Sub, sunk returning from her first mission by HMS Liberty on the night of 8 Feb 1917. She surfaced on a clear night and was spotted by the Destroyer who opened fire, but this blinded her crew so her Captain, Lt Commander King ordered her to ram the sub which she did. Sinking her with all her crew.
I was diving with Madam Poisson de Chunder again and we went in next, gliding down the shot into the gloom, we had a bit of current running still so had a horizontal swim for the last bit to the wreck which greeted us with a mass of fishing net, this completely covered the gun billowing above it a bit in the current. It was rather dark but we had a good 5m or so of viz.
Moving across the net we had a quick look at the shot which was caught in the net hanging down the port side of the sub. The Sub is very upright and proud with a slight list to Port, as I now knew exactly where the anchor was caught and the waster tied off I did not bother reeling off and we dropped down to the seabed and turned towards the stern at 41m.
The stern is quite damaged but recognisable, we noticed and anchor on the seabed and I could see the drive shaft but no propeller (apparently others found it), working around there was a strange column on the other side of the sub and this turned out to be a rolled up net with a buoy at the top holding it up.
Working our way forward we passed the conning tower again and I noticed a huge hole in its side, madam missed this as she was lower down, and passing the gun we went to the bow. After a min or 2 here we worked around and along the most interesting part, looking down into the empty mine shafts, having a good look at the external torpedo tubes and finding the spilled ready ammunition for the deck gun.
I stretched our bottom time a bit to look at clearing the anchor, but it was too busy around here and after getting a kick in the face I gave that up and showed Madam the hole in the conning tower before we headed up, after a look at a Tompot Blennie peering out of the brass of the rangefinder we headed up for the deco.
So 68 min runtime to a max of 41m on 29% Backgas and 52% Deco gas in 17 Degrees water.
Dive 2 – Night Dive on UB78
I have dived the UB78 a few times and was looking forward to a night dive on her, as we lost the anchor on dive 1, and that was Dave’s spare after we lost another on the Henry B Plant recently we were using No 3 shot/anchor which was a bit light. This landed just next to the wreck and as we went down the shot line ran between the gun and conning tower.
This sub a UBIII Class attack boat sank on 19 April 1918 after striking a mine while trying to sneak through the Dover barrage.
Having a good look at the gun me and madam did not reel off again but headed up to the bow where I showed Madam the torpedo tubes which are easy to see as the outer hull has rotted away, on the way there I caught several lobsters and waited for her to pass me before waving them in front of her mask.
Up and around the bow we worked back past the prominent gun and conning tower, then down to the blown off stern, spotting some damn big lobsters in the wreck as we worked back. At the stern we had a good look inside before moving back to the centre past the prominent open hatch halfway along.
At the Conning tower I headed off to the shot which was a couple of meters off the wreck on the Port side. Up the shot we went at the end of a rather outstanding dive.
So 38 min runtime on 34% to a max of 29m in 16 Degrees water, and no deco.
Dive 1 - UC64
After the late finish of day 1 it was an early start on Sunday for day 2 with my alarm going off at 0445 for the drive to Dover and the 0600 meeting. There was also some fog on the way down which I hoped was not going to be on the sea as well.
On the boat we were missing Gareth and Maggie who had to leave early but Clive was filling one of their places, also Juz was stuck in bed despite Blanaid being there in her normal cheerful mood. Steve S was also there taking his normal amount of abuse from everyone having gotten up at 0200 to get there.
Out of the harbour we went on a much calmer sea than yesterday to head over to the site of the UC64 a very successful UCII Class minelayer who had claimed 27 victims and which had been sunk on 20 June 1918. She was trying to sneak through the Dover barrage when she set of an alarm and was attacked using depth charges by several of the Drifters on station.
On 6 July 1918 she was dived for the first time by Commander Damant’s Royal Navy divers, the Tin Openers who blew off the conning tower to get inside.
Today once Dave had the shot in it was my turn to be the expendable diver, the last time I dived this wreck I had a minor chest infection and had to can the dive just after hitting the seabed at 42m, so today I had an MoD just beyond this and was looking forward to getting on the wreck.
Down the shot I went, with it getting darker at 37m which was showing on the fishfinder as the top I had a look around, but could see nothing, so down some more past 40m still nothing then at about 44m I see the wreck in my torch beam, the anchor is caught on a net cutter and bouncing about, looks like I have got here just in time as its about to bounce off.
I grab the waster and tie it off to the net cutter, meanwhile things have got rather noisy as a large ship is passing close by and I’m bouncing up and down on the wreck, this however masks the annoying bleeping from my computer telling me I’m a bit deeper than planned. Meanwhile a pair of the biggest lobster claws I have ever seen appear from underneath the sub below me, but I want a look at the sub first so head on up and along the hull.
The Sub is very broken with the conning tower off and lies with a slight list to port, she was on her way out and the mine shafts are full.
I would not normally reel off on a sub but Clive and Blanaid are due to join me, so I run a line up the centre of the sub so they can find me. The sub is at quite a steep angle and I worked up from 47m to the top at 37m.
I soon cam across the gun and after this found the hole where the conning tower was, it is very prominent and I had a good look at this, also at the conning tower over the side, about this time Clive and Blan joined me an we moved off towards the bow, however after last nights late dive I still had a tissue code and was into deco soon after getting onto the wreck, after 25min I explained to Blan and Clive I needed to turn the dive and offered them the reel which Clive took.
Back to the shot I went, with a last look at the monster lobster before heading up for some deco followed by a rather nice cuppa.
So a 55 min runtime on 29% and 53% to a max depth of 47m in some rather nice 16 Degrees water.
Dive 2 – Liner Pomerania
On the boat there was much bleating on about spidge and a consensus to bin the last sub and go spidge hunting. Personally I was quite disappointed as I was looking forward to the last sub but went with the spidging option, even though I was unlikely to pick anything up.
However after 3 days hard diving and a tissue code to match I did not want a long run for a short bottom time and in the end we went for the Pomerania, which is a large liner and a very popular Dover wreck which sank after a collision with the loss of 48 passengers and crew on the 25 Nov 1878.
On the wreck we had 4m or so of light viz subject to who was rummaging where, my reel jammed at the start of this dive so I just followed others divers lines out and back before heading up after 25min for a cuppa.
So 30 min to a max of 25m on 31% in 16 Degrees water and dive number 70 for the year.
Altogether another great days diving with another great sub and puts me on my target of 70 (Sea) dives for the year with a few more to come over the next 3 months.
Dive 1 - The Sabac
The Sabac is a rather large freighter of 2811 Tons that sank after a collision with the larger Dorington Court in dense fog at 1055 on 7 Jan 1962, 7 miles off of Dover, whilst on a voyage from Ploce (Yugoslavia) to Rotterdam with a cargo of Bauxite (used in the manufacturing of aluminium). The Sabac was holed on her port side and sank in 5 min with the loss of many of her crew in the very cold water.
Today the wreck is incredibly upright and intact in a max depth of 55m with the decks at about 45m and the 2 sets of superstructure standing above this up to about 42m.
I was diving today with Madam Poisson de Chunder who was diving on a very expensive Trimix fill to my poor mans weak Nitrox (maybe not quite weak enough though), and we had a cunning plan involving 30 min at 45m.
Once the shot was in we jumped in and down the line for a quick 6m bubble check, Madam had a very small leak from one of her regs but we decided that it was not too bad so carried on. Down we went with it getting a bit darker until we hit the deck at 45m.
It was quite dark but we had a nice clear 7m or so of viz in our torch beams. I knew there was superstructure near us and wanted to get into this so had a look around trying to decide which way was best, we soon opted for left and off we went to find a steel wall in front of us, great, there was a door to the side but we went up and along this looking down into the cabins below us through the holes in the roof, once across this we dropped down to have a look in the other side.
Madam wanted to enter here but my gas was a bit hot at this depth and I did not want to stay this deep too long, so we looked at another section just down from the cabins and Madam decided to have a look into here, we were now at 50m and this was the first time that Di had been this deep, she asked if I wanted to have a look along the corridor, I felt it looked a bit narrow even for my svelte figure, so in she went.
I watched as she frog kicked along to the end of the corridor, about 8m or so then stop, she then started some strange fin movements and I decided she was either Oxtoxing or trying to swim backwards, after a few moments the convulsions continued getting closer to me until she came back out, well half of her, she then stopped for a bit, then had some more spasms, I tapped her leg to let her know she was out then realised she was catching her stage bottle on the door frame, why doesn’t she come up a foot or so I thought, eventually the light came on and she did this managing to get out at last.
Shaking my head at women trying to reverse we went back up over the cabins and back to the shot. Back at the shot we had lots of gas left but our deco was racking up a bit so we left the wreck just short of 30 mins and off we went up the line with our plan in taters.
Madam worked her deco out in her head on the fly while I stuck some deep stops in and used my SUUNTO, I was hoping her sums were better than her reversing, but we managed to survive with no sign of DCI.
So a total run time of 71 min to a max depth of 50m with me using 26% backgas and 53% for Deco, in some rather nice 17 Degrees water. On this incredibly impressive and intact wreck.
Dive 2 - SS Unity
After a nice long surface interval and some lunch we headed down Dungeness way to dive the ever impressive Unity which was torpedoed by UB57 on 2 May 1918 whilst sailing from Newhaven to Calais with Ordinance Stores.
This is a fantastic wreck being upright and intact in a max depth of 40m and a general depth to the decks of 32-35m, for this dive we had been joined by Debs with her camera.
Down the shot we went to find a fantastic 8m or so of viz and some very nice light levels, as we neared the bottom of the shot we found a large conga looking at us from an air intake.We then worked our way along the deck in a kinda zig-zag pattern with me reeling off and the Ladies shopping for spidge around me. This wreck has lots of bits lying all over it and is a superb rummage. As we got close to the bow hold a rather aggressive Lobster came past me and after a bit of a struggle he was bagged up ready for dinner later.
About this time I turned the dive as my tissue code had pushed us into Deco quite quickly and that was raking up a bit, so to Debs obvious disappointment we turned around and headed back to the shot. At the shot all 3 of us had something in our goody bags and up we went for the normal deco stops.
So a total runtime of 49 min, with 30 min or so on the wreck using 28% and 53% again in 17 Degrees water to a max depth of 37m. It was dark by the time we got out for a rather lumpy ride back to Dover.
23rd September - SS Cuvier
I had booked Neptune for a single dive day to visit The Steamship Liner Cuvier, built in 1883, displacing 2,299 Tons and measuring 100m long by 12m beam which sank after a collision with the SS Douvre of Norway on the 9th March 1900 with the loss of 26 lives, and became the first liner to sink in the 20th Century.
We had a large contingent off Canterbury Divers on the boat with Derek, Adrian, Carl, Rob, Clive, Debs, Keith and myself, with the numbers made up by DUE members. The sea was a little lumpy as we left Dover, but good enough to dive still.
Myself and Rob had dived the wreck the day before with Falcon divers and had a very nice 8-10m of light viz, during that dive we had covered the length of her having a good look around the broken off bow section.
Today I was crew and had anchor releasing duties so was going in last. The sea was rather lumpy while kiting up was going on and a few looked a bit worse for wear but eventually all were in. Meanwhile i had managed to puncture the sleeve of my drysuit, but i was not going to stop me diving as the water temp was a very nice 17 Degrees, I just had to keep my run time shorter.
In I went and down the shot, the viz was a very nice 8m or so and quite light, I connected my reel but soon afterwards decided i would not need it so left it as I swam along the corridor between the first class cabins on the port side towards the stern, having a quick rummage and watching the stream of bubbles coming out of my drysuits arm.
On the way to the stern I passed Carl and Debs who had been rummaging and were carrying some pointless spidge, past them i got to the stern and dropped over to have a look at the rudder and prop, I could not see a prop so assumed it was gone and did not drop right down to the seabed.
Back onto the deck I dropped into the stern hold and had a very nice swim around this looking at all the broken crockery lying in the silt. This really is a fantastic hold as there is lots to see, a nice big gap of about 2.5m between the silt and the deck and lots of holes in the deck planking letting in light.
After a while I came across Derek and Clive spidging and left the hold by the entrance above them. Back on the deck i worked my way along the starboard side cabins before returning to the shot to try and release it.
Unfortunately it was well caught up and we lost a prong on the anchor recovering it later. Up the line on 35 min for the routine deco (ed. where he proudly showed everyone on the line the leak from his drysuit) and then on the boat to a lot of very smiley faces as everyone appeared to have had a rather good dive.
So 55 min runtime to a max of 38m using 30% and 53% in 17 Degrees water, a rather great day out.
9th September - Herne Bay
After being advised by John A that viz off Herne Bay on Saturday was an impressive 3m, a small group met up at Neptune’s Arm on Sunday morning for a dive to the Pudding Pan off Herne Bay - the 'Pudding pan' is apparently either a roman wreck or maybe some kind of settlement. Roman artefacts have been found there in the past and the University of Southampton spent quite some time surveying it a few years ago so there is some info on their site at http://www.arch.soton.ac.uk/Research/PuddingPan/pudding2.htm .
Slack was at 11.40, so we (myself, Jason, Dave C, Jon B, Phil and Bryony Chapman from Seasearch) were all kitted up and ready to leave at 11.00, only to find that the Valliant wouldn’t start!! We spent some time trying to track down if it was a fuel or electrics problem, only to find that the kill switch wasn’t in place L Once that was sorted the engine started first turn and we set off to find the Pudding Pan. We set course for our destination, which we were sure was around 2/3 of the way between Herne Bay pier and the wind farm – as we were heading out past the wind farm we realised that we were probably heading for the wrong mark; things had also been slowed slightly as there was a problem with water coming into the boat between the tube and the hull. As we had hit slack we decided to do a drift dive where we were.
Jon B and Phil were the first pair in, followed by me and Bryony. We descended to around 8.5m with a nice light 3-4m of viz. This was my first dive where I was planning to complete a seasearch observation form since attending the course earlier this year – and what a bonus! my dive buddy was Bryony, the Marine Officer for Kent Wildlife Trust and my seasearch instructor. I had such a great dive, the bonus of being able to dive with Bryony who helped me to identify the large number of sealife forms was brilliant!! We saw numerous starfish (one of which had decided to curl into a ball to be blown along the seabed like tumble weed), hermit crabs, dahlia anemones, tube worms, a spindly spider crab, plumose anemones and various byrozoans. We ascended after a very leisurely 40 minute drift dive.
In the meantime, Jason and Dave C had dropped in for their dive – Jason being assessed on his final Dive Leader open water exercises, the first of which was a CBL. The second was as we returned to Neptune’s Arm where Jason needed to perform a rescue tow with AV and recovery of an unconscious casualty (Dave). This was performed in open water with recovery into the boat, rather than on the beach, as by the time we returned to the slip the tide was well on it’s way out, the beach was a mud slick and the ramp was very congested as a large catamaran had been beached on it, taking up half the ramp space!
After completing the exercise and getting the boat out of the water, Jason very kindly treated us all to some very welcome chips!
A very big thank you to Jason for organising the dive, this was definitely one of my best dives and I thoroughly enjoyed the seasearch aspects of it.
6th September - Andaman & Unity
Day 2 and we are out for the Andaman, a huge wreck on its side in 53m rising up to 33m.
I was due in last with Simon the clean up the shot, as we were expecting to go to 53m we went nice and slow to avoid the CO2 hebie jeebies, as it was we found the shot on the wreck, on top of the superstructure in 37m, it was pitch black but we had a rather nice 5-6m of viz in our torch beams. We lined off and dropped into the wreck working down to 44m, it was very hard to tell if we were inside or working down the deck as we could not see a wall on one side, but the pipes etc looked like they were all internal.Working back up we had another look around the side of the bridge before heading up after 35 min for the routine deco. On the boat everyone was very happy with the dive, many had been to the bottom and all 9 deep air divers could remember the dive wellBack to Dover and Subaquaman suggested for an extra £5 each we could head down to the Unity where we may get some better viz so we went for this option, and boy was it worth it.
Dropping down the shot it was a bit murky but on the wreck we had a very good 8-10m of light viz, the wreck is very intact and shipshape with the ends broken off spilling its cargo of general stores over the seabed, this really is a fantastic wreck with so much so easy to identify, plus monster crabs, lobsters and scallops to be had. Me and Simon swam around in awe, just wishing for more bottom time, then we found a Cuttlefish who was happy to entertain us for a while before we headed back to the shot. I released the anchor but it dropped into a hold so we had to put up with the current on the deco, and getting to 6m found one on an AAS doing his last 20 min of stops. The perks of shot line returns is that there is lots of gas about, so once I had completed my stops I clipped my stage onto him and he finished off on that. So 40 min on the wreck to a max of 39m, and a bit of extra deco.Back on the boat everyone was really buzzing after an absolutely fantastic dive and a great culmination to 2 days of top quality Dover wreck diving.
Once upon a time about a year ago, well just over actually on 1 Sept 2006 a wide eyed DIR Fundamentalist called Jay arrived in Dover to join some well known YD Dover regulars and diving disasters for his first Dover dive after much puddle splashing, that day we dived on The Henry B Plant in 15m of viz followed by the MV Teeswood in 12m of viz. During this dive he joined the disaster that is Team Chaos, made up of The Diving Dude, Chasey and ahh Paul Oliver, who are probably as far removed from DIR diving as you can get.That was the day the Dude forgot his rebreather and had to borrow the skipper Dave Batchelors single 18L, and later had to be forced up the shot by Chasey. Jay’s kit was the picture of neat and tidy in a true DIR sense. On the 2nd dive he earns the well deserved moniker of Captain Deco for his top quality deco planning and use of 21% to pad out his stops by an extra 30 mins or so.
Well a year later after much corruption he turns up in Dover as Captain Crowbar with a sledge hammer on his belt, at lest 2 different size crowbars stuffed into the stage bottle bag he now has, several bolsters and chisels and a lifting bag big enough to raise the Titanic. This he has no-where to store so it goes into a goody bag to float above him like an Underwater Spidger Marker Buoy (USMB).
Well the sun was out and 9 of us left off of Neptune onto the WW2 Liberty ship Henry B Plant to drop down into a disappointing 4-5m of vis, a good rummage was had still, me and Gizmo worked back to the torpedo damaged section then back forward over the bridge, having a look in the back of this, then forward with a look at some tank track looking cargo and on to the gun platform forward of the bridge on the uppermost Port side, despite the limited viz we were both having a great dive and had a good 45 min on the wreck to a max of 37m before heading up for the 20 min or so of stops. Meanwhile I had not seen much of Derek, Debs Simon and Adrian but suspect that there were not many pictures taken as it was all a bit bitty out there today.
Meanwhile Captain Deco had returned to the boat minus any spidge. During post dive chat Dave decided to get Jay a porthole, so the MV Teeswood became the target for after lunch, and a complete repeat of the targets a year ago.
So during the break in Dover Dave sorted out the right type of bolsters and off we went to the Teeswood. To get the portholes off of this one you need to do it from the inside with a small bolster as there is a rubber washer/seal inside the porthole that will just bounce a large bolster back out.Down the shot me and Gizmo went to find some quite poor viz, the shot was by the bridge and it was rather dark. I promptly lost Gizmo and while I had a look for him could hear an MP3 player playing rock music to the sound of a lump hammer whacking away inside the wreck.Soon enough I found Gizmo and off we went around the wreck, trying to avoid the other lines, once we turned the dive the music and whacking had stopped and we proceeded into the gloom to then have the end of my line approach us, damn, snapped again.We knew we were in the rough area of the shot but could not find it so as Mark was getting a touch low on air he sent his DSMB up, I decided to send mine up so they would know there were 2 of us drifting off, but had a bit of a clusterfcuk with it and binned it, however just as we were leaving the wreck I spotted the shot right by Marks left fin So rule 2 was not broken. A max depth of 32m with 35 min on this very enjoyable wreck.
Back on the boat there was no porthole, but it’s ready and waiting for another visit.
We launched the Valiant off Dover slip a little before eight in the morning and set off into a beautifully calm sea. The first wreck we dived was the Pomerania. The shot landed right on the wreck and first in were Rob and Carl. After about five minutes Robs DSMB popped up with a bit of line attached to it, but nothing else! He did explain why he did this, but I've forgotten what he said so you'll have to ask him yourselves. After half an hour the first pair appeared again and it was mine and Paul's turn. We descended down to 25 metres, tied off by the shot and set off across the wreck. The viz was quite good (2-3 metres) and to start with there was no current. The wreck was in good order and we made our way across the deck, despite my efforts to lead us off the wreck into the sand. Paul saw a good size Lobster, but by the time he had got my attention and showed it to me, it was ready for him, so he had to do without his dinner! On the way back to the shot the current started, and I got to experience a drifting safety stop at 6 metres.
A nice civilized start time saw us meeting up in Dover at 0830 to load up on Neptune and head across the channel to dive the World War 1 Cruiser converted to Seaplane carrier.
This was my 2nd dive on her, the first time we had very poor viz however today I was first down the shot and we had a stunning 12-15m of viz and broad daylight, and she is a truly stunning wreck in these conditions.
After securing the shot which had dragged off of her by about 12m or so I reeled off with my buddy Gareth trailing behind.
On the wreck we soon found a break and entered the hull swimming down through the engine room and out the far side, before turning back through the last of the stern section. Fantastic stuff.
Reaching the end of my 75m of line we used 10m or so of Gareth’s to get to the very end, turning here we headed back to the break and then up and over the hull, the far side was quite mundane so we went back over and along towards the bow, however I got to turn around Gas point before we made it there.
Heading back to the shot we came to the snapped end of my line, no shot, no wreckage and some scrape marks in the sand, however as we did not want to waste any more time on the bottom Gareth sent up a DSMB and up we went, so 50 minuets on the bottom followed by 20 min of ascent and deco in a balmy 16 Degrees water.
There were huge grins all around on the boat as we headed back to Dover and lunch.
Ed. I took my camera and took a few shots while diving:
A Destroyer sunk following a collision in 1909 the Blackwater sits in 33m of water and is 3-4m proud for most of her length., however she breaks up a lot in the amidships area where she was struck during the collision.
The shot had landed just forward of the winches on the bow area, however this was quite hard to identify due to the large amount of silt that had been stirred up around the shot area cutting the viz right down.
Reeling off I went across the deck and the started working towards the stern. There are lots of holes in her sides where the hull and plates have deteriorated, once you get level with where the bridge would have been the wreckage drops down and becomes very broken up.
Despite the silty sand this was an enjoyable dive with a nice light 0-4m of viz. So a 43 min dive to a max depth of 32m.
3rd June 2007 - Loanda
Sunday morning 08:30 a very foggy morning saw John Cooke, Richard Cooke, Clive and Myself turn up to dive the Loanda. After an age of my very poor reversing down the slip, we finally got under way. The trip was fairly good and we arrived ont he dive site with loads of time. We shot the wreck and realised the shot line was too short, as it floated off down the channel. We added 10m more and hit the wreck perfectly. Then we sat and sat and sat. Finally we decided that it was time to dive. John and I went in first to secure the shot. We dropped in and down we went. It was green then went black, vis was about 1m in the torch beam and zero without. I found the shot burried in the wreck and started to fight the current to secure it. By now John had returned to the surface after losing me and I was conducting a lift and shift in total dark with a current running. I also had the worse case of suit sqeeze ever, you should see the marks over my body (ed. ugg what a thought!). Once the line was in I left the bottom after my agreed 20 mins was up and was flag poled to the 6m mark. Once out Clive and Richard got ready, I warned them it was running hard and in the dropped. Clive got to the shot, Richard shot off down channel in the current. Clive decided to bounce the shot but only managed to get to 17m before cutting the line and our losses. Drove back to shore as the blue sky appeared and the sun came out, typical!!!! All in all a good learning experience for all of us, especially the reversing down a slip. My dry suit is now repaired and can inflate correctly.
We dived two more reefs after this and visited an island which is a booby
bird and hardwood tree sanctuary where we had lunch. Sand, palmtrees...blue
blue calm sea, hot sun and a cooling breeze.
Love Jac xx
After a good days diving out of Dover yesterday we met up again this morning for the long haul up to the Henry B Plant, an intact Liberty ship on its side in about a max of 41m. This is my favorite Dover wreck and I had been looking forward to this for some time.
At the marina Chunderfish took possession of her new Steel 7 which Nigel had kindly painted Pink for her.
Off we went on a very nice flat calm sea with the expected Sea haze holding off.
Dan ponders his lost lifting bag and quality spidge, while Chunderfish tells Rob that diving Commando style is a good, DIR Holistic approach to diving
Dive 2 – SS Lariston
Dave Batchelor shotting the wreck, with Nigel giving helpful advice.
After some lunch and a 4.5 hour surface interval we headed out to this big and popular wreck just short of the shipping lanes. The Viz looked ok with a green plankton tint and Dave had the shot in after a struggle, as we had some wind over tide making it a bit lumpy.
501 Diver despite having his face hideously damaged by the Sun, Jellyfish stings and some Anti-Aging Cream soldiers on to shot the Lariston with John Perrin watching
24th April 2007 - El de Bayo & HMT Drumtochety
After some poor viz reports over the last week or so 11 of us met up at Dover Marina to go out in some fantastic weather and look for a good target wreck with some viz, while we got ready to go Rob realised he was missing his Undersuit, then while scrounging bits he managed to forget his weightbelt, meanwhile Chasey was pondering how he was going to fit into his old drysuit as his repaired one had not arrived.
Back to Dover we went for a very nice lunch before meeting again for Dive 2, we went out Viz hunting and our first target looked quite murky so we pushed out to the edge of the lanes and HMT Drumtochety an Armed Trawler of the Dover Patrol that sank after striking a mine on 29 Jan 1918.
Slack was very late, the sun was up and we had a 5 hour surface interval, the plankton was thick again but below 10m it cleared up and we landed on the wreck to a very nice 5m of Dark Viz. This wreck is very upright, intact and proud in 35m, Jay reeled off and was straight into the holds, I generally floated around above the holds looking in and we had a very nice look around.
Adrian realises that having lent Rob his Undersuit trousers Rob always goes Commando!
A rather excellent days diving and we are out again Wed for another 2 wreck day.
10th April 2007 - UB38 & U8
Having spoken to Innes the author of "Lost Patrols" and the countries formost Submarine expert at DiverSE I had arranged a Dive day off of Neptune to coincide with Innes being in the SE. Unfortunately the tides were a bit harsh with a 0545 meeting at Dover.
Noel & Kev (Woodstock Divers), Gary and Dianne (YD) Paul, Rob, Carl, John Perrin, Debs (Canterbury Divers) Innes McCartney (Periscope Publishing), Pete & his buddy (Falcon Divers) All smiles at 0615 in the morning
7th April 2007 - UC64
After some great weather but poor viz on the Dover Easter Gig so far i joined the boat for my only dive of the weekend. Dave had decided to head out to Le Colbert, a bank in mid channel to find a submarine to dive.
UC64 was a mine laying German sub that set of an alarm on the Dover Barrage when trying to sneak through on the 20 June 1918. There then followed a lot of depth charging by drifters of the Dover Patrol until they were sure she had been destroyed.
Eventually he was up and telling us Captain Spidge had returned, on board Jay showed us his Brass German Bedpan Helmet
But then decided it was probably a washing bowl along with an ammunition container latch
Yet another top days diving off of Dover then!
Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co.; 1903; J. Caird & Co.; 9,500 tons; 520-6x58-3x24-8; 12,000 i.h.p.; 18-5knots; triple-expansion engines.
The liner Moldavia, serving as an auxiliary cruiser, was carrying a number of U.S. soldiers when she was torpedoed by a German submarine on May 23rd, 1918, in the English Channel. She continued under her own steam for 15 minutes, but at the end of that time it
My dive on this massive wreck started a bit slow as i ended up clipping on stage bottles for Janos and Nigel, removing extra bungees from between Chaseys back and back-plate, sorting the Dude out and Mark Powell even asked me to make him a Tea while i was faffing about.
The Dude then dropped down towards the decking and from behind him in his torch beam i had a good 10m+ Viz so i followed him down and out along the low torpedo damaged area at about 47m, feeling fine again now. This area has lots of plates and decking lying flat and lots of holes to look down into.
After a cold hang we were back on the very impressive brand new Channel Diver and the Dude found the Donuts, which did not last long.Then we had the long slug (3 hours) against the wind back into Brighton, but it was a rather excellent dive.
28th March 2007 - The Varne Wreck
12 Very enthusiastic divers met up at Dover Marina with the Sun shining, a totally flat sea on view and the promise of a cracking dive to come On the down side though we had a lot of Fog and it was apparent we would need to dive somewhere that this would not cause a problem.
2 of the Mugs that came up today
17th March 2007 - SS Hermann
After some very close weather watching we decided we could still just about get a dive in out of Dover so met up at the Marina after a round of last min cancellations and replacements being found, 5 cancellations and 3 replacements found on the morning of the dive so only the last 2 non attendees need to pay.
On site Dave soon had the shot in and the water looked nice and clear with the promise of 5m or so of viz. Nigel was in first to secure the shot and soon other were leaping over the side. I was crew today so helped the others kit up then went in last to ensure the anchor was cleared at the end.
16th March 2007 - WW1 Destroyer HMS Paragon
Today 12 off us met up in Dover to head out on Neptune to Dive the WW1 Destroyer HMS Paragon, and it was a rather excellent days diving. The ship was sunk in a German raid on the Dover Barrage in 1917, here is what Charles Hocking has to say about the ship and it’s sinking.
British Navy, destroyer; 1913; Thorny croft & Co.; 917 tons; 265-2x26-5x10-2; 22,500 i.h.p.; 31 knots; turbine engines;Yarrow boilers; three 4 in. guns, 2 T. T.
The destroyer Paragon, Lt. Bowyer, was patrolling the submarine barrage in the Straits of Dover on the night of March 17th, 1917, in company with the Laertes, Laforey and Llewellyn. At about 10.50 p.m. a German destroyer force led by Cdr. Tillessen steamed into the Straits with the object of breaking the barrage. The first ship to encounter them was the Paragon, which was torpedoed and overwhelmed with gunfire when in the act of flashing her challenge. She blew up and sank immediately, only ten of her complement of 77 being picked up. The Llewellyn, which came on the scene in time to rescue the few survivors, was also torpedoed but, fortunately, did not sink.
Across the Channel we went with the water clarity looking better all the time, once on site Dave soon had the shot in and in we went, wow, great viz at least 8m if not more, down the shotline to find the wreck proud and intact in 29m of water. The seabed is sand and shingle and the wreck is bow end into the current so no silt.
I decided to reel off as this was a return to shot dive, however it soon became apparent there was no need for this. The shot was next to the broken off Bow area, and would be roughly at the point the Bow gun turret is in this picture. I headed around the open end of the wreck and soon spotted a Torpedo Tube (Empty) on the seabed, moving on from this I worked my way along the Starboard side of the wreck which is incredibly intact and proud for a Destroyer standing 6m proud with the top at 23m. There are lots of areas you can look into and although there is quite a bit of netting and fishing line on it, it’s all easy to avoid.
The current had got up quite a lot and I had a struggle working my way back to the bow end, and once I was round this I had a laugh as I was pushed past my line and had a bit of a job keeping it tidy. On the way back I decided to have a rest on the seabed to get my breath back while the masses of feeding fish ignored me.
After a last look around the area of the shot it was up the line for a short 5 min of stops, by this time the current was very strong and we were hanging like washing in a gale under the boat. If the line had not been attached to Neptune I suspect we would have found the buoy at about 9m as Steve S was here causing a huge amount of drag.
A rather excellent dive followed by a mildly lumpy trip back to Dover. So a max depth of 29m, 8-10m of very light viz, 10 Degrees water temp and a dive time of 45 min.
Getting ready to go, working clockwise around the boat from the stern/ lift we have Trebor, Captain Deco, Bully (Sitting - Back of Head), Steve S (Green Top), 501 Diver, Nigel Ingram, Colinicky and Mark Chase (Best sides to camera) and G Wizz on the pontoon.
2nd March 2007 - SS Cuvier
Despite some concerns about the Channel Viz and Weather after having a good look at several weather site’s and ignoring the inshore forecast anomalies a happy band of 11 met up in a very sunny Dover Marina to go out on Neptune today. We had 4 of Canterbury Divers on this Charter and I had filled up the rest of the places on YD.
Our original target was HMS Hermes on the French side of the channel but we changed this to the SS Hermann which is on our side about 7 miles out of Dover, however as the viz here looked very poor and the sea was rather calmer than we thought we ended up going up the Channel 14 miles to a spot in the middle of the shipping lanes to dive the SS Cuvier, a big 2,299 Ton freighter 100m long x 12m Beam that had Cabins for 80 first class passengers.She had sunk on 9 March 1900 after a collision with the Freighter Douvre, so almost 107 years to the day we paid her a visit.
The closer we got the better the viz looked and on site we knew we were in for a treat, we needed to have the shot on the top of the wreck and Dave did this no problem. We then needed an expendable diver to secure it and Nigel was promptly nominated.
Once he was in we quickly followed suit, hmmm or some did, as several decided sitting on my kit while they waited to get in was a good idea, so I ended up the last one kitted up and in.
As soon as I was in the water I had a rush of cold water down my neck, but hey the viz was too good to worry about that. Down the shot me and Gizmo went for our first dive together since the U90 last July. We could soon see the others then the wreck below us.
The shot was perfectly on the highest point at 32m next to the first class cabins, as I tied of my line I was looking down into the Port side cabins and corridor between them. After some faffing with my torch we were off and moved across to the starboard side dropping down to the deck in front of the entrance to the corridor in about 34m.
We then could not resist the urge and along the corridor we went, looking into cabins then up onto the deck again, a look around here in the rather outstanding 8-10m of viz with no real need for a torch.
We soon were looking through the rotten decking into the holds and I dropped into the first one, this had a large pile/bank of silt in the middle but I had a large hole the other side so across we went through to the next hold under one of the few areas of solid deck.
Back up onto the deck again and we slowly moved over the holds looking through the gaps at the pottery below, then at another hole just about big enough for me I dropped down into the large stern hold, there was crockery everywhere, but it was in heavy silt so after a look around I resisted the urge to dig and went back up onto the deck.
We then carried on back to the stern where we met Janos and the Dude and got a very chuffed thumbs up to the dive, we then turned the dive and headed back through the same rather excellent swimthroughs to the shot.
Very reluctantly we headed up on 40min to do our deco in a mild current then back on the boat after a rather excellent 65min total run time in 9-10 Degrees water with fantastic light and viz.
On the boat it was Coffee, hot sausage rolls, Doughnuts and 11 huge grins as we all talked at once about how great the dive had been. A fantastic day out.
3 of us from the Club (Me, Rob and Adrian) were out on Neptune diving on HMS Flirt, a WW1 Destroyer that is about 15 Miles out of Dover today.
After the recent strong winds we had a good calm weather window and took the chance to get out of Dover on Neptune with Dave Batchelor and crew. As we got to Dover we had a clear Blue Sky and a nice flat sea. We had a full boat of 12 with a couple who were new to YD Gig’s in Daniel and Sandy.