South Gare slipway

First Sea Dives, South Gare, Teesside

9th August 2020; Written by Andy Moss.

The club has had a couple of ocean diver trainees this year.  Kim started her training early in the year and did her first open water divers in Capernwray in mid February along with a number of divers from Newcastle University Sub Aqua Club (which I was a member of a little while ago) [Editor comment: time scales are apparently relative!].

Kim’s training was interrupted by the pandemic but I was conscious of the need to get her back in the water. I also thought it would be good to get her in the sea for the first time, for a number of reasons: there is more to see, it is cheaper and finally it is closer than Capernwray.

The Newcastle University Club was also wanting to get their divers back in the water, they similarly having had a lay off for many.  Dave and I agreed to help the university, and to make best use of the day to take Kim along too.

It was a long time since I had been to South Gare.  It was interesting to meet members of the local BSAC club (Teesside 43), who happened to be at their club house, which is near to the site. They told us about their diving over the year and the sites they have in the locality, whetting my appetite to go back and do more than I have done in Tees Bay before, ie very little.

Map showing location of South Gare (right) and dive site (red star left)

I had not dived the site before, but it is known at least by the local BSAC club (teesside 43) as The Training Ground.  Essentially, there is a gated slipway and a short distance to the east a concrete pier which has seen better days.  A blue rope runs from the end of this to some offshore timbers, presumably once part of an extended pier structure.  The rope then continues in a loop around the timbers providing a route to follow. Options for getting to the rope include: swimming along the shore to the end of the concrete pier and then following the rope out to the timbers, or taking a bearing from the slipway and going direct to the timbers and picking up the rope.  Personally I did the latter on each occasion.  There was quite a lot of life living round the timbers, several species of crab, numerous lobsters and a scorpion fish.  On the way back on one dive Kim and I were lucky to see a small cuttlefish.

I ended up doing 4 dives during the day, 2 with Kim and 2 with Luke from the Newcastle University Club.   Dave did a similar number of dives, all with University divers. The diving was safely and successfully completed by early afternoon.  It has to be said that visibility was not great but largely I think that was down to a falling tide, early in the day a depth of 6 metres was reached around the timbers.  The main objectives for the day were completed, Kim and the university divers getting back into the water, doing several people’s first sea divers and enjoying them in considerably warmer water than in February.

Dave and I subsequently enjoyed a large fish and chips in Redcar before returning home.