Diving The Resurgam, Rhyl - 27th April 2024

Our plan for Saturday was to dive the Resurgam. An experimental, steam-powered submarine constructed in 1879, she lies off the cost Rhyl in a 300m exclusion zone. To dive her, you must be named on the license and the custodian of the wreck and authorities must be informed of the intended dive plans.

Saturday the 27th of April

Saturday morning dawned with the ideal forecast for our planned dive. We were to have winds of F1 gusting F2 all day, with no sign of the front that had been threatening to scupper our plans the night before. In high spirits we hitched Top Cat and set off for Colwyn Bay to rendezvous with our fellow divers.

Everyone arrived promptly to help prepare the boat, assemble their dive kit, and conduct a safety and dive briefing before setting off. For our needs, Porth Eirias slip can only be utilised at certain states of tide. Our tidal calculations told us that the earliest launch window was 11:06 AM, so at 11:00 AM sharp, we were lined up at the top of the slip ready to depart.

After a 40-minute passage to our dive site, we commenced a sonar search for the Resurgam. Happily, we were able to locate it relatively promptly. The shot was deployed, and our first wave of divers started preparing to enter the water.

The Resurgam can only be dived on slack water, which limited our dive window, especially with plans to drop in two waves of divers. With the trailing buoy indicating little in the way of tidal stream, we dropped our first lot of divers in whilst Helen and I waited on Top Cat. Sometime later as we took in the sunshine and drifted pleasantly around the shot, we noticed two DSMBs some distance away. A few minutes later, we recovered the three boys to reports of no vis and no luck finding the Resurgam, much to their disappointment.


With the trailing buoy still showing little in the way of tide, Helen and I took the opportunity to double check the placement of the shot and location of the wreck. After some searching, the sonar confirmed the shot was correctly placed and the direction duly noted. However, after we dropped in, I immediately understood the problem the boys had encountered. A strong plankton bloom permeated the water with visibility of less than one metre. Reaching the end of the shot, the strobe was barely visible let alone Helen. I remember looking towards her to see her pulling out her compass and thinking she was ambitious given the conditions.

I was to be swiftly corrected, however!! Helen deserves an award for the most amazing, on-point navigation. With no visual queues whatsoever, she successfully navigated us from the shot to the Resurgam. It was a bittersweet moment to glimpse it ever so briefly only to lose it in the plankton a few seconds later. What we did see of it, was covered in life. That said, the rest of our dive didn’t disappoint either. Unable to locate the Resurgam a second time, we set off on an enjoyable drift dive along the seabed. The sandy bottom was thriving with life, with some of the most mature whelk I have ever encountered, hermit crabs, crabs, dragonet, and sand gobies. The boys even glimpsed a catshark. I’d happily return to the site just to dive the seabed again! The dive was over far too quickly and it was with much reluctance we surfaced to return to the boat and head back to shore.

A swift recovery of Top Cat in challenging conditions brought the day to an end. Whilst it wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, everyone had a great day out on the water and some good dives.

The Resurgam meanwhile, waits for us till our next attempt!

– Clemmie and Dave M

With thanks to our dive buddies: Doug, Nathan, and Helen.