Diving the Wreck of the SS Mars, Tyneside

17th June 2012

by Richard Booth

It was Bob’s 1000th dive! W would the waters off the Tyne deliver that special celebratory experience? With an overcast sky and the threat of yet more rain, Spellbinder II headed out of the Tyne before heading north for deeper waters off St Mary’s lighthouse.

As we headed further north the wake at the stern started to change from a mucky brown to a clean white; things were looking up.

Soon we arrived on site and the shot was dropped onto the site of the wreck of the SS Mars.

The sea was glassy smooth with no swell or surge with the shot buoy lazily floating with no current evident.

Down we dropped through the green water, slowly circling around the line as it descended into the dark abyss below.

At 26 metres the line crossed across the top of one of the ship’s boilers. We had arrived. Torch beams cut through the dark clear water. We moved on across the collapsed wreck debris, the torch beam illuminating a fallen mast. Suddenly out of the darkness the torchlight briefly silhouettes a strange fish; a John Dory in North Eastern waters?

I wave my torch to catch Bob’s attention and he drifts across, his attention transfixed on this unusual fish. I take advantage of the fishes confusion, it does know which way to turn, so I fire off several shots whilst my brain adjusts to the narcotic effects of endeavouring to take photographs 30 metres under the sea.

Our bottom time is quickly passing. Reluctantly we head back to the boilers and the waiting shot line, to guide our ascent back to the surface above.  We make a gentle ascent up the line, pausing to complete our decompression stops whilst admiring the passing bubbles of other divers far below.

Back on Spellbinder we reflect on our dive and in particular our fleeting encounter with the John Dory; the first time I have encountered this species off this part of the British coastline.

A fitting way to celebrate Bob’s 1000th dive!