The wreck appreciation course comprises five theory lessons, two dry practical sessions and two open water sessions. During the theory sessions (which were run over two full evenings for me – as a late comer to the course;) topics such as wreck location, ship construction and layout, marine life, wreck diving equipment and techniques as well as wreck laws and simple site recording were covered. We also received a Student Manual.
Out of the five theory topics covered, the most interesting was the ship construction and layout section. Not only did it look at the layout of a ship but also the construction types used over the last 100 years or so. Being able to recognise clearly parts of wreckage when I dive has given me confidence in direction finding especially on scattered wrecks; but also makes for more interesting dives as I now know what I am looking at!
Once the theory was completed, the practical sessions were organised. We did the practical sessions over the weekend of the 2nd /3rd August 2008, taking a boat out from Blyth harbour. Since I had no commitments that weekend, I managed to dive both days, though to complete the course only one day of diving was required. On the Saturday we dived the Elise – my log book describes this as a dive with lots of wreckage and a big gun! The second dive was on the Hanne, better visibility this time so we went off to find the elusive bow – but to no avail. The final dive was on the Herristad or Muristan, a wreck which fascinated me; this wreck was absolutely teaming with life: young shrimp lobsters and crab etc all living in quite a strong current.
The Sunday diving was attended by a different group of divers from the previous day. The first dive was a drift dive over Creswell Skerries with no wreckage in site! However dive number two that day was on the Princess Maud. This wreck is scattered over a large area with some winches and boilers standing proud of the sea bed. The final wreck we dived that day was HM steam tug Bullger. This site was, according to my log book, a very impressive wreck despite only the bow and hull still standing proud off the sea bed. The hull and stern were covered in dead man’s fingers and plumose anemones and looked very beautiful.
Some weeks later on the 18 th October 2008, we again took to the water with measuring tapes and dive slates in order to draw a map and describe the layout of the SS Coryton, which lies off the coast close to Bamburugh. This wreck is such an enjoyable dive and really helped to consolidate all that we had learned. I even managed to produce a scaled map of its layout, subject to interpretation of course! All in all a very enjoyable course.
By Nicola Faulks