Farne Islands

5th March 2011

Too warm for a wolly hat??  It was only as the lines were being cast off that I realised that I had carelessly left my woolly hat in the car.

‘’Don’t worry, its too warm for a woolly hat” reassured the DO, Andy Hunt. True, in the relative shelter of Seahouses harbour with the sun shining and blue skies above, it seemed like the perfect weather for a dive trip out to the Farnes even if it was only early March. Once out of the harbour however the brisk cold North Easterly wind soon made its presence felt on my now freezing forehead; mental note made to oneself, ensure woolly hat is packed in with dive kit next time out!

We pushed on regardless and soon arrived off the Longstone reef where the shot was efficiently dropped onto the site of the wreck of the SS Chris Christenson. We were however running a little slow in relation to our departure from Seahouses but fortunately there appeared to be no tide running when Richard and Andy dropped into the water and descended down the shot line, soon followed by Nicky Hobbs and Winter Dotto, (who was making her first ever dive out on the Farnes). On the bottom conditions were quite dark, but a half decent torch beam cut easily through the gloom giving visibility of around 4 metres. The shot line had landed relatively close to the remains of the Chris Christenson’s engine room but out on open seabed. Andy soon manoeuvred the shot line onto the main area of wreckage thus ensuring that those unfamiliar with this site would not head off in the wrong direction and miss the wreck, an easy mistake to make in the limited visibility. Nearby lay the remains of the two large boilers and the overturned compound steam engine.

Drifting back up the slope our torch beams lit up other debris from the wreck including a large deck winch. Andy suddenly waved his torch excitedly having located the remains of the ships rudder. Nearby we soon found the ship’s propeller wedged upright against the base of the reef wall.

 Ascending on upwards we sought shelter from the flooding tide which had now started to run outside the gullies that cut into the Longstone. Having completed our safety stops we headed back out into open water and away from the reef to await pick up from the Glad Tidings VII.

With everyone back safely aboard we headed around the corner into the shelter offered in the lee of the Blue Caps reef and where, after a suitable surface interval and hot drinks, we planned to complete the second dive of the day along the scenic walls offered by this particular site.

Preparing to enter the water one soon became a little conscious of the numerous seals that were watching proceedings from the nearby rocks.

Immediately on entering the water it became very apparent that the underwater visibility was much improved from that experienced on the earlier dive.

Despite the Spring tide, very little current was experienced on this relatively sheltered site. Marine life however was very much in evidence on the more exposed edges and surfaces making for a very scenic dive, thus ensuring that Winter was kept busy recording information for completing her Seasearch form.

During this dive we all also experienced a number of fleeting encounters with curious seals. All too soon it was time to head back to the surface and the waiting Glad Tidings VII for the short ride back to Seahouses.

Thanks to Andy Hunt for arranging this day out at the Farnes.