Diver with prop

Flowers and Rust on the Farnes

Flowers and Rust, diving the Chris Christensen and the Fang wall at the Farne Islands.

September 2016.

Report and images by Richard Booth

The original plan was to dive the SS Somali on slack water. Initially the weather was kind to us, so prior to the Somali dive and with a flooding tide we took the opportunity to visit the Fang wall off the Crumstone reef. This particular site is quite exposed, but offers an excellent scenic dive when conditions are right to dive it. Under water visibility proved to be quite good, although in the shallower depth there appeared to be a slight plankton bloom.

Wall

Towards the base of the reef however the water was much clearer. Marine life encountered on this dive included a shy octopus in a hole, as well a lobster. Bill and Sandy were also ‘checked out’ by a number of inquisitive seals.

Base of reef

Once back on the surface it became all too clear that the wind had suddenly picked up, resulting in an uncomfortable swell that ruled out diving the Somali wreck site.

Instead after a quick rethink we headed over to the site of the wreck of the SS Chris Christensen to take advantage of the slack water window. This site proved to be well sheltered from the prevailing swell.

Descending down the shot the excellent visibility allowed a good view of the outline of the wreck against the sandy bottom.

Boiler

The two ship’s boilers rise up some 3 metres from the bottom and are situated close to the vessels steam engine that has collapsed on its side. Moving back along the wreckage we followed the propeller shaft before ascending up a steep slope covered in a thick carpet of deadmen’s fingers, a testament to the strength of the current that usually surges over this site.

Where this slope meets the base of the submarine cliff we found the ship’s rudder and the propeller.

Rudder

After a brief inspection of these artefacts,

Propeller

it was time to ascend up the cliff and complete our safety stops exploring the gullies that cut into this area of the reef and offer a measure of protection from the increasing tide. An excellent day’s dive at the Farnes.

RhIB