The Knifestone and the North Goldstone – Northumbrian Dive Adventures

27th July 2013

by Richard Booth

The request to assist Seahouses RNLI with a yacht in difficulties with a line caught around its propeller was received whilst preparing the club rib Seawitch for launching from Beadnel beach. With an increased sense of urgency Seawitch was quickly launched and we headed across the bay to the yacht and waiting lifeboats.

After a quick briefing from one of the lifeboat volunteers, Tiago entered the water and quickly freed the yacht Tonic of the line that had wrapped itself around the propeller and rudder.

With the thanks of the grateful yacht’s crew still ringing in our ears we headed out to sea and set course for the distant Farne Islands. With a flat glass like sea but an ebbing spring tide, the back of Knifestone seemed to offer a promising choice of dive site. We arrived to find two other RIBs had also made a similar decision of dive site and whilst kitting up we were suddenly joined by several of the local charter boats. The Knifestone was proving to be a popular choice. Once under the water it was easy to see why this site is so popular.

Its exposed location has resulted in numerous shipwrecks resulting in a seabed that at times resembles a scrap yard.

Here we came across two ship boilers, the remains of a collapsed steam engine, as well as a large iron propeller.

Throughout the dive, seals darted around the wreckage whilst friendly wrasse approached us no doubt in the hope of a free meal!

Andy, Fiona and Michael on their dive also came across a lone diver who had lost his buddy and was looking somewhat anxious and a little confused. Andy joined this individual and escorted him safely to the surface, the clubs second good deed of the day! Once everyone was safely recovered and kit safely stowed, we fired up Seawitches engine and headed the four nautical miles north to the North Goldstone rock.

This jagged rock rises up from Seil reef out in the exposed waters between the Farnes and Holy Island. Its exposed location and the fact that the top of the reef often lies just under the surface on a flooding tide makes it a particularly hazardous reef for shipping which has resulted in numerous shipwrecks. Its location close to Holy Island and its exposed nature also means that it is a site that rarely gets dived despite the numerous wrecks that surround it. It is ideally visited on low water neaps, when the rock is visible breaking through the surface and dived at slack water due to the fierce current that often flows over the reef. We arrived to find the exposed rock covered in seals. The shotline was dropped at the base of the reef on the west side, and Richard and Tiago descended the line to find that the shot had landed close to the remains of small wreck.

Keeping the wall on their left hand side they headed south along the submerged reef and whilst coming across some interesting geological structures worn down by time and sea, no further wreckage was encountered.

They returned to the area around the shotline and ended the dive exploring around the remains of the old iron steam vessel.

By the time Andy, Fiona and Michael entered the water; the flood tide had picked up resulting in the Goldstone rock once again submerging back under the sea. After pulling themselves down the line this group headed north finding the remains of another steam shipwreck close to the one located next to the shotline.

With everyone safely recovered Seawitch headed back to Beadnel with five very satisfied and happy divers. Thanks to Andy Hunt for organizing the days diving.

Footnote: It was with some surprise that the following morning we discovered that the incident with assisting the RNLI with the yacht with the fouled propeller was featured in the Sunday Sun. Our exploits had made the local news!