St André and the Hopper

Diving for fun on the St André and the Hopper. July 2016.

Text and images by Richard Booth.

During the Club’s 4 day re-survey of the cannons on Gun Rocks we had the perfect opportunity to show Peta, our visiting nautical archaeologist, that the Farne isles has more to offer than measuring the bores of corroding old iron cannons.

After earlier morning dives on the cannon site and with the tide making it no longer possible to continue surveying the site, we headed over to Staple Island for a dive on the wreck of the St André, an old French steam ship lost in 1908.

Dropped in close to the landing stage it is short drop down the submarine cliff to locate the wreckage, which leads out to the remains of the stern rudder and propeller, now minus its blades.

St Andre

From here we swam deeper down the line of wreckage, pausing to explore the two ships boilers, before heading across to the remains of the collapsed bow.

Diver by boiler

We were fortunate to enjoy excellent underwater visibility on this dive, ensuring that torches were not required on this occasion.

Encrusted wreckage

The following day after a further morning’s work of attempting to photograph some of the cannons to make 3D photogrammetric ‘models’ of them, we looked for another dive site to show Peta some of the other wonders that the Farnes has to offer.

We opted for the Hopper off the Longstone reef, where the visibility if anything, proved even better than that experienced the day before.

Diver on cliff

This time however there was no wreckage in evidence as we explored along the submarine cliffs, before venturing into the impressive gullies that cut back into the Longstone reef. Here we were joined by seals that danced elegantly overhead as we clumsily finned our ways along the gully.

Seals in gully

Returning to the open water we continued to be the centre of attention with the seals cheekily continuing to tug on our fins.

Fin seal

Yet again the Farnes had allowed us to experience the magic that this special place has to offer to the visiting diver.

Seal