SOUTH SHIELDS 14TH - 16TH AUGUST 2020
Nine divers journeyed north on Friday evening, some to stay at The Little Haven Hotel and others at a nearby B&B. Tim and Phil had prepped and checked the boats the previous Wednesday evening. We launched at 8am from the public concrete slip adjacent to the hotel.
Sat 15th August: Our first dive site was The Elise, a British Navy trawler which sank in 1918. It lies on a sand and cobble seabed in 26m of water. The wreck was located and shotted successfully. The viz was 8-10m and water temperature a comfortable 14C. The boilers, engine block and propeller were easily identified and covered in Deadmens Fingers and Plumose anemones, Hornwrack and a variety of hydroids and bryzoa. Shoals of Bib and Pollock swam around the whole of the site. We also spotted Butterfish, Tompot Blennies, Gobies, Goldsinny, lobsters, an abundance of squatties, Edible and Velvet Swimming crabs. Helen was lucky enough to find an octopus. We all managed to avoid the Lionsmane and Compass jellyfish on both the descent and safety stop.
Following a quick cylinder change back at the slip our second dive was The Oslofyord , a 18,673-ton troopship, which sank in 1940 when it hit a German mine . It lies on a sandy seabed in 15m of water just off Tynemouth beach and is the largest wreck on the East coast. The bow section points seaward. There is also the wreckage from the Greek steamer, The Eugenia Chandris which sank in March 1943 having struck the wreck of the Oslofyord. There is a huge amount of broken wreckage to explore. Four steam engines, 3 massive boilers, miles of cable, large sections of metal plate and an intact prop shaft are easily identified. All the wreckage is plastered with Deadmens Fingers and Plumose Anemones, hydroids, bryzoa, Hornwrack and encrusting sponges. Large shoals of Bib and Pollack, Angler and Scorpion fish, Butterfish. Lobster, Edible and Velvet Swimming crabs were spotted by all buddy pairs.
The boats were recovered and refuelled. Cylinders were taken for filling; kit was sorted for the next day.
We ate at the hotel on Saturday evening.
Sun 16th August: Phil had researched and planned a new dive site, The Marie, (865tons) which lies on a sand and cobble seabed in 36m of water. It sank in 1907 following a collision.
We launched at 8am for the run out. The wreck was located and shotted and we waited for slack.
This was much darker, the viz was around 5m and there was a slight current on the bottom. It was not as colourful, with just patches of Deadmens fingers, Plumose and large Dahlia anemones, however, there were still shoals of Bib and Pollock, several flounder, Leopard Spotted gobies in every nook and cranny, plus prawns and starfish.
Our second dive was back to The Oslofyord, as it is non tidal, to shot and dive the area around the boilers then north to explore the prop shaft. Best finds were an octopus sitting on old fishing net, Anglerfish, lobsters and two large well camouflaged Scorpion fish.
The recovery and de-kitting of both boats went smoothly before we headed south. Tim, Helen and Phil secured the boat in the club house at around 9.30pm.
A great weekend of wreck diving with 2 new sites added to the list of marks. Thanks to Phil for meticulous research and planning: Tim and Phil for towing: dive buddies Ken, Steve M, Helen, Connie, Dave M and Wilf for ensuring that the weekend was a success.
Photo credits to Helen Hamer