Wrecks Of The UK

Wrecks Of The UK

Created: 2018-07-19

MULBERRY DOCKS:

Location- Selsey

Depth: Maximum 10m

Size: Length=60m   Width=17m

Sank: 1944

What is it ?

The Brits realised that they needed some more docks in France for them to off load cargo. They created the Mulberry docks as a portable dock to use until the allies were able to capture a French port.

Pre-fabricated in the UK, the concrete blocks were transported across to Normandy and then sunk.

On June 6th 1944 over 400 towed component parts (weighing 1.5 million tones) set sail.

Both Harbours were a success and fully functional by the time a huge storm hit causing extreme damage to the docks.

Remains in the UK:

The Phoenix Caissons were reinforced concrete caissons. They were collected and sunk prior to D-day. There were 6 different sizes ranging from 2000 tons to 6000 tons. Each was towed by two tugs at a rate of 3 knots. The caissons were initially sunk awaiting D-day and then refloated. People say that the name Phoenix was used because they were resurrected.

Sections of the Phoenix can be found at:

Thorp Bay – Southsea. Whilst it was being towed the Caisson began to leak and was intentionally beached. (Only assessable at low tide)

Pagham (known as the Far Mulberry) sank off the coast, settled and cracked and is now laying about 10m deep.

VALENTINE TANKS:

Location: Swanage

Depth: Maximum 15m

Size: Length= 5m

Sank: 4th April 1943

What are they?

Effectively they were floating (or sinking) tanks.  The tanks had a canvas screen around the outside and used this displacement to float. The engines were then connected to the propellers.

Why was it called Valentine?

Theory’s of the name:

Originally people thought that the idea of the floating tanks was presented to the War office on St Valentine’s Day.

Then people started to wondering if Valentine was the middle name of the tank designer John V. Carden.

Other people think that Valentine is an acronym for Vikers-Armstrong-LTD-Elswick-Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Lastly it could have simply just been a code word. What do you think?

The Wreck:

7 lay at the bottom of the bay. However only 6 were ever mentioned in diaries that documented the exercise.

Next year there will be an exercise to map and locate all of the missing pieces of the tanks.

On the wreck there is a permanent shot line and a rope that leads you down the side and another line that leads you to the next one.

It is full of wildlife making it a colourful and exciting wreck to explore.

AEOLIAN SKY:

Location:Swanage

Depth: Maximum 32m

Size:Length=148.7m

Sank: 4th November 1979

What is it?

The Aeolian Sky was a Greek-run freighter built in 1978. It has engines at the rear and four massive holds separated by equally massive masts and cargo derricks.

Why it sank:

This massive freight was fully loaded and on its way to Africa when bad weather struck. She collided with a German ship but came off worse. She was then towed to English water with a hole in her bow but was refused by Southampton and Portsmouth ports for fear of pollution. Eventually she was defeated and sank meaning the the millions of pounds of cargo was lost to sea.

The Wreck:

She sank laying on her port side, and has stayed in tact (bar the hole in her bow).

For first visitors it is recommended that you start your dive at the bow then heading over the superstructure to the stern to get the best picture. She still holds lots of interesting cargo for divers to look at from trucks to locomotives. Behind the superstructure is a surprisingly large area of stern deck, dominated by a large winch with cable wound on it.

For those wreck qualified a trip into the engine room can be beautiful yet eery.

KYARRA:

Location: Swanage

Depth: Maximum 29m

Size: Length=126m

Sank: 26th May 1918

What is it?

A luxury passenger voyager on its way to Australia via Plymouth to collect wounded soldiers to be repatriated..

Why it Sank:

The Kyarra was fully loaded with a mixed cargo of goods. As she was passing the Isle of Wight disaster struck as she was spotted by German submarine UB-57. Taking a direct hit to midship on the port side she quickly sank with 6 men loosing their lives.

The Wreck:

Originally people used to only dive her for the treasure that could be found. However, since she has been dived so much you are less likely to find this treasure now. The Kyarra has two buoys tied to it which surface on slack water only. For new visitors it is suggested staring at either the stern of the bow and working your way along. This is simply due to the size of it. If you keep to the port side of her you will be able to see the triple-expansion engines and the boiler. There are actually four boilers on this ship but only one is visible from the outside.

M2 SUBMARINE:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 35m

Size: Length=93m

Sank: 26 January 1932

What is it?

In 1928 this submarine was converted to carry a seaplane which could be launched shortly after surfacing using a hydraulic catapult. Afterwards the plane would be hoisted back on board using a crane.

Why it Sank:

Unfortunately the launching of the plane went very badly and all 60 crew members died. After sending divers down to examine the cause of the sinking it came to light that the hanger door was still open with the plane inside.

The Wreck:

For new visitors you can dive starting from the Stern at 34m. There is a dual strut just forward of the rudder which would have held the propellers in place. Further on from the stern are two large hydroplanes on either side.

Moving on you come to the conning tower where the Peri scope and the masts are still standing proud. (20m)

You can drop down from there to see the hidden hanger and explore where the plane once sat. Finally if you look back you can see the catapult.

Other things to look out for are the four torpedo holes and an anchor.

COUNTESS OF ERNE:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 15m

Size: Length= 73m

Sank: 16th September 1935

What is it?

It was first used as a paddle steamer passenger vessel. It was then demoted to a coal hulk in Portland Harbour. She sank because she broke loose from the Harbour mooring.

The Wreck:

This is a really nice dive due to how shallow it is and the marine life that has called it their home. The steamer lies upright almost parallel to the harbour wall with the shallowest part of the deck at 8m. She is reasonable in tact therefore easy to navigate.

On the deck of the ship stands a capstan and a mast with bollards located on the port and starboard sides. The ship provides several nice swim throughs for all those that are wreck qualified and on a sunny day, when the visibility is good you can see the length of the ship.

The best time to dive this ship is in late spring sue to the amount of marine life that comes to play. From nudibranchs to candy striped flat worms. The colour can shine through the water.

JAMES FENNEL:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 19m

Size: Length = 38m

Sank: 16th January 1920

What is it ?

She is a distinctive looking steamship with a big boiler and engine. She sank as a result of grounding.

The Wreck:

The James Fennel is still in very good condition with a lovely swim through between the engine and the boiler, the con-rods are still standing erect and are very visible.

The bow is clearly visible and has opened up revealing fallen wreckage inside.

One of its main attractions is because the 4 bladed propeller is still in great condition with only one of the blades buried in the sand.

The ship since it fell has created a home for many different types of wildlife like crabs and pollack.

ST DUNSTAN

Location: West Bay

Depth: Maximum 29

Size: length= 61m

Sank: 23rd September 1917

What is it?

It was built for use for a dredger with large buckets that operated on a conveyor belt.

The associated machinery required a lot of room, hence the boilers and the engines were placed at the front. During the First World War the dredger was requestioned to operate as a minesweeper. She was sailing just past Portland Bill when she hit a mine laid by UC-21, turned upside down and quickly sank.

The Wreck:

Today the St Dunstan is a terrific dive and has to be ranked as on of the top dive sites for fish life. Bib, Cod and pollack are in great numbers with the guaranteed opportunity to fin through a shoal of fish.

Much evidence can be found of the mechanics of the actual tual bucket dredger.

The upturned hull on the port side is less broken and a little dull but on the starboard side many areas can be entered from underneath. Just behind the bow is a lovely swim through along the width of the ship between the two anemone coated boilers and the bow.

You can enter the engine room where you can still see the engines and huge cogs hanging from the ceiling.

POMERANIAN:

Location: West Bay

Depth: Maximum 36m

Size: Length= 116m

Sank: 15th April 1918

What was it?

It was a large imposing steamship with mixed cargo. The ship became famous amongst divers for it is believed to have been carrying 14 diving helmets. Although only one has ever been recovered.

Many lives were lost on this ship. The steamer was on its way back home to Newfoundland in Canada when the submarine UB-77 spotted her and a torpedo was fired with a direct hit. The ship went down fast and only one of the 56 crew survived.

The Wreck:

The highest point is midships where the shot usually lands. This is your starting point and the undisputed highlight. The cabins are are a wreck divers dream as you negotiate the spacious rooms and several gangways whilst staring up at the metal framing clad in dead men’s fingers. Heading to the stern you will pass the two partly buried boilers followed by the triple-expansion entrance. Then you can see two winches side by side.

At the stern you will see a somewhat broken rudder still attached to he ship and along side a single propeller blade that is sticking out of the sand.

SCYLLA:

Location: Plymouth

Depth: Maximum 25

Size: Length 113m

Sank: 27th March 2004

What is it?

HMS Scylla was a Leander-class freight of the Royal Navy. She was built on Devonport dockyard and after an active role was decommissioned in 1970 to be finally bought by the national marine aquarium. She wasn’t purchased for sailing but instead her life was to end underwater as an artificial reef. A large task was undertaken to make her safer to scuttle. Access doorways were cut for divers and all possible marine contamination removed.

The Wreck:

The Wreck has changed dramatically over the years in to a glorious shipwreck bursting with life. The freight is too large to cover in just one dive so the most dived route is alone shallow depths. The stern and lower decks are definitely worth the adventure but watch the silt as the whole wreck has a thick layer of silt covering it.

Here you can fin inside along the narrow corridors viewing filing racking and all manner of items. At 9m the bridge is also worth a visit. This is where the steering binnacle still stands surrounded by windows.

Finally you end up at the helicopter hanger.

JAMES EAGAN LAYNE:

Location: Plymouth

Depth: Maximum bow = 8-20m / stern= 23m

Size: length= 130m

Sank: 21st March 1945

What was it?

This US Liberty ship was in convoy on voyage from Wales to Belgium carrying US Army engineering stores. She was the lead ship and after passing the West Rutts was struck by a torpedo from the U-399 sub. Although holed on the starboard side between the rear holds, she didn’t sink immediately allowing time for all the Crew to be rescued. A last ditch attempt was made to beach her in shallow water but she didn’t make it.

The Wreck:

The wreck which is held in high esteem and savoured amongst divers. Dropping down the side will take you to the anchor hawse pipes with a hive of fishy activity often. You can fin inside the whole length of the wreck where archetypal columns soar up in great elegance. Beams cross the sealing spaced out almost perfectly to grant divers an easy exit. The holds are still filled with cargo from vehicle batteries to cogs and wheels.

MOHEGAN:

Location: Falmouth

Depth: Maximum 25m

Size: Length = 144m

Sank: 14th October 1898

What is it?

It was a luxurious steamship on voyage to New York. She sailed at full steam past the Eddystone lighthouse where a course was plotted but mistakenly the bearing was set wrong. Just as all the passengers were sitting down to dinner, the ship plowed into Vase Rock where the rudder was completely torn off and the hull badly damaged. The ship drifted over to Maen Voes where she sank in just 12 minutes. All the crew went down with the ship but 44 passengers were saved. In total 106 people lost their lives that day.

The Wreck:

The boilers tower up to dominate the scene and these alone will take a while circumnavigate. The gaps between the boilers are filled with wrasse and pollack as it is a safe haven from the divers bubbles. The rest of the ship has completely collapsed to leave predominantly a jumble of metal beams, mostly decorated by displayed of sea fans. Tall rocks lie around the wreckage where you can take a few interesting diversions to explore under the overhangs and inside the cervices.

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Ocean Turtle Diving
WIth a return to the water imminent, now is the time to make sure everything is in good working order and serviced in line with manufacturers' recommendations. Bring us your regs, BCDs, computers and tanks - we offer a 2 week turnaround time for most servicing so that will ensure your gear is safe and ready to use by the time we can resume diving. We are open on Thursdays from 10am until 5pm, for a kerbside drop off and collection service, but please ensure your visit is part of an essential journey in line with current guidelines.
Ocean Turtle Diving
Ocean Turtle Diving
Not to be outdone by BoJo, here is our road map.

We will remain closed until 12th April 2021, with the exception of click and collect / kerbside service as before. For these, we will continue to open every Thursday from 10am until 5pm, with no appointment necessary.

We hope to commence outdoor in-water training from 29th March assuming our inland dive sites are classed as outdoor leisure facilities. We then aim to commence indoor in water training from 12th April when indoor leisure facilities are allowed to reopen.
Ocean Turtle Diving
Ocean Turtle Diving
As the end of lockdown appears to be within touching distance, we come to the 8th in a series of Anna's favourite warm water destinations.

RAJA AMPAT – WEST PAPUA - INDONESIA

Where is Raja Ampat and what’s so special about it?

Although technically you wouldn’t be wrong to say that Raja Ampat is situated roughly halfway between Madagascar and Mexico, and is an archipelago made up of the four (Ampat) Kings (Raja) islands (pulau) of Misool, Batanta, Salawati and Waigeo, in reality, there are more than 1500 islands here, with a total population roughly the same as the town of Salisbury in the UK. You can spend a week anywhere here and spend time with pretty much only the people you’ll dive and stay with, either on a liveaboard or on land (I spent a week on Gam, one of the smaller islands. No roads, no mains electricity, no noise, no light pollution. Marvellous). Other advantages include its considerable and stunning marine life biodiversity and a reef system agreed as housing the richest ecosystems on earth. This area is also home to the incredible Birds of Paradise (for your entertainment – watch “Dancing with Birds” on Netflix, narrated by Stephen Fry).

Why should I dive there?

See above. What other reason would you need. You won’t run out of dive sites, nor things to see. Absolutely incredible. You will likely see the Tasseled Wobbegong shark, Giant Clam, Bumphead parrotfish, pygmy seahorse and many kinds of frogfish. Raja is also known for some fierce currents, so get some diving practice in before you go to fully appreciate it. All the islands will offer spectacular diving – Misool is considered the crème de la crème as it really is so much further (and less explored/busy).

When to go?

October to March has the calmest waters if you’re doing a liveaboard. Having said that I was there in November and some days were pretty choppy, but not blown out. Visibility is superb, and the water is always warm.

What to take?

There’s a fair bit of flying involved, so definitely trade out the heavy wetsuit for a dive skin. My favourite is the Sharkskin, it’s super light to pack, windproof, warm, quick drying and neutrally buoyant. A reef hook. Do NOT be tempted to buy one there or any other dive related item for that matter, you will pay double or triple UK prices. Take a camera and learn how to use it before you go! If you’re going to be island based, particularly homestay, do take some snacks and favourite foods like apples, oranges, snackbars, as the food can sometimes get a little samey (in my experience), drinking water is in good supply but don’t forget your reusable water bottle, and a good supply of electrolytes! Try to take as little packaging as possible, or plan to take it away with you.

Preparation, preparation, preparation !

It takes time to get there, so plan your time appropriately. You’ll fly into Sorong, and if you’re land based will need to take a speedboat to your accommodation. It’s very easy to arrange one (just tell your accommodation and they’ll pick you up), but not particularly cheap (too many variables to list here – the exchange rate at a glance is…. Knock four zeroes off the end and divide by 2 e.g. 3,000,000 rupiah  3,000,000 300  £150 approximately.) If you’re land based, you may need to pay cash (the bigger resorts will take cards, homestays don’t), and hence you’ll need to plan a larger than normal zipped bag/Ziploc to carry around your wad of notes.

Where to stay

You can choose to spend as much or as little as you wish, from high end luxury liveaboards (the Dewi Nusantara, anyone?) which will give you a fabulous selection of incredible dive sites throughout a week or 15 nights, to basic beachfront homestays (from around £25 a night upwards, including board), up to beautifully appointed dive resorts (Raja Ampat biodiversity Resort for example). One salient point to note… the liveaboards boast photos of white billowing sails atop romantic Phinisi schooner style yachts… you may get a last morning photo op with the sails up, but don’t be fooled – you’ll be motoring around the dive sites, not sailing. Homestays are all grouped and managed under the “stayrajaampat” website since they’re remote and don’t all speak English/ have internet. It’s a great website for info on all the islands and their attractions: https://www.stayrajaampat.com/ultimate-raja-ampat-guide/raja-ampat-islands/ It’s also run by volunteers who do an amazing and fair job.

Splurge.

Raja Ampat is definitely a splurge destination – but as much as you want to spend all your time underwater, do plan for a few days on land exploring the jungle and the magnificent birds of paradise on Waigeo or plan to go further afield down to Misool which is 4+ hours by speedboat from the airport town of Sorong and may set you back over £300 (round trip) on top of your accommodation. You may want to plan a trip to the highly picturesque Piaynemo island lookout (below is a picture of my friend and dive guide Tommy precariously showing off there).

How to get there?

Sorong airport is your destination whether land or liveaboard based (there’s a smaller airport in Waisai but isn’t that useful for transfers). You get there via Jakarta, Makkasar, Manado, then a ferry (huge, busy, cheap, relatively comfortable, air conditioned, fascinating if you’re a people watcher) to Waisai, then a small boat to your destination. It’s a long, long trip and you will know you’re on the other side of the planet by the time you get there. Plan the length of your holiday accordingly. I only had an hour and a half flight from Manado but the transfers took all day from Sorong to Gam (see map below) and vice versa.

Good to know?
Overweight luggage isn’t actually that expensive on the local airlines.
Get your cash before you get to Indonesia, preferably! ATMs limit you to 1,000,000 at most (£50).
Bring a good first aid kit and make sure you have insurance (Dive and travel). Dive conservatively. There is a deco chamber in Waisai, but it’s expensive and doesn’t guarantee 24/7 operation. The nearest DAN approved chamber is in Manado (see above for my trip times to and from Manado).

I stayed at Yenros Homestay and dived with Raja Ampat Biodiversity Resort next door, on Gam island.

Photo Information:
Map Source: Wikipedia
Piaynemo islands. Photo Credit: Tommy Milton
Ferry from Sorong to Waisai. Photo Credit: Anna Williams
Tiny frogfish. Photo Credit: Anna Williams
Dive dock at Gam island. Photo Credit Anna Williams
Ocean Turtle Diving
Ocean Turtle Diving
This week Anna is transporting us away from the grey skies of the UK, to the crystal clear Caribbean Sea!!!

The Elbow – Turneffe Atoll – Belize – Caribbean Sea

Where is Turneffe Atoll and what’s so special about it?

Turneffe is one of the only four atolls in the Western Hemisphere, three of which are in Belize (sandwiched between Mexico and Honduras). Almost every diver will be familiar with the Maldivian atolls of the Pacific– typically a ring shaped coral rim, a chain of islands surrounding an extinct volcano that has eroded leaving a central lagoon. Turneffe Atoll is almost 50km long, 30km off the mainland, and is the largest atoll in the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef System with over 200 mangrove cayes (islands). What is more, it’s been a Marine Reserve for nearly 10 years, has no permanent inhabitants and is largely littoral forest and mangroves – great news for both marine fauna and us divers!

What is The Elbow?

The Elbow is one of the most well-known dive sites in Belize, but whereas most of the dive sites are generally known for being calm, easy, shallow and colourful with no current, the Elbow is famous for being a true drift dive (with occasional currents running like a train!). Situated at the southernmost end of Turneffe Atoll, the current here rages towards the south, and divers are scooped up on a kind of marine motorway, shunted out into the blue, down the coast and spat out where the eastern and western drifts meet at the atoll tip. More info on Turneffe and its other dive sites here:

https://ambergriscaye.com/pages/town/diveturneffe.html

Why should I dive it?

Big currents mean big pelagics, big schools and the big wide blue. The current whisks divers out into the blue, where I’ve seen runs of 20+ huge eagle rays, schools of Horse eye jacks and cruising turtles before drifting back towards the wall. It’s huge thrill “armchair diving” and watching the canyons and coral formations scroll beneath you.

When to go? Between November and April/June is “tourist season”, do your homework on the “shoulder” season though for fewer visitors and better prices (October, July). The Elbow dive is most definitely dependent on conditions including weather, swell and tides so it’s best to stay at the Atoll to make sure you get to dive at optimum conditions. Blackbird Caye Resort is a well-established 5* PADI dive resort right on the ocean’s edge.

What to take?

If you’re a photographer – it’s your wide angle kit you’re going to need at the Elbow.

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

The Elbow is most certainly an Advanced Open Water Dive/ Deep Diver spec – for the depths (up to 30+ metres), and the drift (Drift Diver recommended). You’re likely to be doing a negative entry (buddy teams descending together directly from the boat without surface wait) and each diver should be very comfortable sending up their DSMB. Preparation makes the most of your dive!

Insider tips….

There are weeks and weeks’ worth of dives here at Turneffe, so it makes sense to stay on the atoll to take full advantage. Turneffe is also home to the rare Whitespotted Toadfish endemic to Belize. Listen for it, you’ll hear and feel its grrrrunt in the pit of your stomach before you see it. (Like a mobile phone vibrating on a glass table).

Splurge.

Blackbird Caye is the only resort on Turneffe to have its own airstrip. Do splurge, Turneffe from the air is breathtaking! Do not miss treating yourself to a few days inland either … I highly recommend Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle lodge where you can float upriver and visit a Mayan spiritual site deep within the caves, before relaxing in your rooftop bathtub under the stars and palms. Un-Belizeable!

Bonus

Belize is English Speaking and tiny. You can get from the mountains to the bottom of the sea in a couple hours. It’s also absolutely stunning.

Fun facts

Turneffe Atoll has been touted as the actual location of Peter Pan’s NeverLand according to a theory published in 2018. An attempt to drum up business was subsequently made by the Belize Tourism board, offering a free holiday at Turneffe to randomly selected applicants with the names Wendy or Peter. News and video here:

https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2018/05/10/is-turneffe-atoll-the-geographic-location-of-peter-pans-paradise/

Whitespotted Toadfish. Photo Credit: www.reefguide.org