Having got to grips with the new boat and the high spec electronics onboard, the late May bank holiday was an opportunity to put it all to the test and go exploring.
With some good weather and sensible slack times on our side we headed down to Newhaven with a bit of research behind us.
On Saturday we headed to the site of the Mira. Having not found the site before there was always a risk of being unable to find it. So it was with much relief when she scrolled up on the echo sounder. Lying almost upside down we found her to be a big lump. Gren and Sarah found what they described to be a huge 4 bladed prop. Kevin and I swam most of the length over a 30 minute bottom time and even managed a swim through at a break in the hull. She was certainly cavernous inside.
On the second dive we dived the site of a spitfire, something came up well on the echo sounder but the possibility of it being a large shoal of fish couldn’t be ruled out. The plan was ambitious and some what tongue in cheek as the probability of finding a canvas covered aluminium plane was almost zero. We were not surprised therefore to all be doing a simple drift dive. Although 4 plaice and 2 cuttle fish amongst other life on a single dive was not bad at all.
We set off early on Sunday to do some wreck hunting on the way to the site of the Braughton which we have done before. First we successfully found the Millgate in 27m of water and then spotted a charted wreck not far of route. After a few minutes with nothing more that the chart plotter to go on we had this unknown wreck nicely recorded for another day. A little research when we got home indicates much uncertainty about this small site in 32m of water. Some sources have it as an E Boat. I’m sure we will be diving this later this year to see if we can find out what she is. The site of the Braughton provided a valuable lesson as well. Never underestimate the wrecks you know, this wreck which lies parallel to the tide proved harder to shot than we were all expecting.
For the second dive we ventured to the site of the elusive Devon Coaster which the club has tried and failed to find twice before. With some new numbers and equipment we were hopeful for a more fruitful result and we were not disappointed. This wreck will make a great Ocean Diver/ Trainee dive at 17m. Gren and John will testify to the need to dive her on slack water and in good vis though.
Monday started with an early morning thunder storm and heavy rain. But the clouds broke as we headed out. However the offshore wind put pay to the original plan of a wreck 10 miles out. So we headed for yet another new site closer inshore (The Inverclyde) which at 17m was also ideal for Mariusz who had joined us for the day. With the heavy plankton the vis was only 2m or so but enabled us all to explore the wreck and her large boiler. Now I’m not sure Mariusz appreciated it or not, but I’m sure other trainees and many long toothed members will be jealous to hear that he saw; lobster, crab, pollock, bib, wrass, cuttle fish and much more on what was one of his first sea dives.
The final dive of the weekend saw us travelling 10 miles west in search of better vis to a reef wall known as Looegate. Again another new site for the club. This 2 to 4m high wall had holes filled with all manner of crustacean and plenty of fish life to boot. With vis improving to 4m it was agreed that this 14m deep site made another very good training / shallow second dive site.
The weekend also provided some great boat handling training opportunities, that those looking to do their Diver Cox exam soon, were able to make the most of.
Thanks are due to Jo who came along to boat handle and enabled the rest of us to all get in the water together.
All in all a highly successful weekend with many new dive sites located for the club. The plankton bloom has come early this year but there are definitely signs of it improving already. This bodes well for a fantastic summer with the stonking vis that we have experienced out of Newhaven for the last couple of years. Bring it on.