Strong Tides and Anchor Hunting, Farne Islands

14th June 2014

by Richard Booth 

After recent reports of excellent visibility on the wreck of the SS Chris Christenson, combined with a further week of settled weather and calm seas, it appeared that we had been offered the promise of some excellent diving on this site. The only possible drawback was the big spring tides.

The scale of the tide issue became clearer when we attempted to launch at Seahouses harbour slip, with the prospect of launching into soft mud rather than seawater at the end of the concrete slipway. Fortunately the tide was on the flood so we did not have to wait too long before there was sufficient water to launch the RIB.

Heading out to the Farnes across an oily smooth sea past floating rafts of seabirds, things were definitely looking up.

Once at the site of the Christenson, the bow wave around the shotline buoy gave some indication of the strength of the spring tide. With slack water approaching, Richard, Andy and Brian, dropped in one at a time and drifted onto the buoy before boldly heading down the line.

Suddenly the current dropped and they descended down to the bottom on to the wreck close to the remains of the bow. Unfortunately the underwater visibility had suffered from a combination of the strong tides and what appeared to be a plankton bloom, resulting in dark and gloomy conditions at 32 metres, more reminiscent of the Tyne rather than the Farnes! We explored around the wreckage and came across a large anchor and a winch and various hull bottom plates.

In the dark conditions however, it was all too easy to become disorientated and quickly lose the wreckage trail. Throughout the dive, seals continually harassed the divers, pulling at their fins. After 30 minutes, and with increasing deco penalties, it was time to head back to the surface.

For the second dive, the rib headed to the other side of the Farnes with a view to diving the North Warmses with the aim of locating a particularly scenic old admiralty anchor. On arrival at the site however, a large swell suddenly appeared which combined with the tide in full flood, made for some potentially interesting diving conditions.

Dropping into the water, both pairs of divers were soon caught in the current and swept around the point. Richard and Brian however did briefly locate an old anchor. Richard managed to crawl along a nearby gully and snap a quick photo as proof of the find, before launching himself back into the current.

Around the point they were swept past some very scenic gully’s and walls, covered in marine life before being carried onto an area of kelp and golden sand.

Here the current started to subside allowing time for Brian to deploy his DSMB.

It had been an exhilarating drift dive, which had fully challenged Brian’s buoyancy skills with his rebreather. All in all a great day’s adventurous diving. Thanks to Dave Taylor for organising it.