Through the Letterbox, St Abbs

3rd April 2011

Arriving at Eyemouth harbour we were greeted with a bright blue sky and a flat sea. Hurriedly we loaded our dive kit aboard Marine Quests new dive boat, the MV Jacob George. Once out on the open water Jim opened up the engine throttles and we speedily headed out along the coast to our first intended site, the Ebb Carrs reef, which is situated south east off St Abbs harbour.

With the start of a flooding spring tide, we knew that the underwater visibility was probably not going to be at its best. This situation was confirmed on entry into the water with underwater visibility of around 3m at best, due to what appeared to be a green algal bloom in the water. We headed off around the reef searching amongst the scenic gully’s until at last we located the wreckage of the SS Alfred Earlandsen, a small Norwegian steam ship which was wrecked on this reef on the 2nd October 1907 in thick fog with the loss of all her crew.

The only survivor was a Great Dane dog which apparently managed to swim ashore. Whilst we located the propeller and other wreck debris we were unable however to find the main gully in which the ships boiler is located. Nevertheless without exception we all appeared to have a good dive despite the limited visibility.

Once everyone was safely recovered from the water we headed north and around the St Abbs headland and into the more sheltered bay of Pettico Wick . After hot drinks and delicious ginger cake supplied by the skipper, it was once again time to kit up and go for a second dive.

Back in the water we descended down and swam on around the base of a large rock known locally as the Letterbox. Eventually Andy located the small opening into the rock and one by one we entered through the dark narrow entrance and followed each other along the narrow passageway that penetrates right through the heart of this large rock.

Indeed it is this very swim through that gives the rock its name of the Letterbox. On the other side Andy posed at the exit point, shining his torch and illuminating the marine life that decorates the inside of the passageway.

 After safely exiting the swim through we headed off to look for the wreck of the SS Odense. En route, Tiago located a fine specimen of a lump sucker fish in its bright spawning colours silently guarding its intended nest site.

We paused momentarily to admire this strange looking fish but eventually pressed on until we eventually came across the outline of corroding metal wreckage lying amongst the rocks and gully’s that indicated that we had now reached the wreck site area. Soon in about 12m of water we came across a large boiler standing upright from the bottom. Shining our torches through the holes in the top and sides of this boiler, we could make out the rotting remains of the condenser pipes concealed inside.

After 35 minutes, the 6°C water was beginning to bite and it was time to head back to the surface.Once safely recovered from the water we headed back towards Eyemouth en route encountering a feeding school of porpoises, a nice scene on which to end another great days diving.

Main Contacts: Jim and Iain Easingwood
Contact Number: 01890 752444
Website:   http://www.marinequest.co.uk/ E-Mail: info@marinequest.co.uk