20th September 2008
The concrete slip at Eyemouth harbour is one that requires a degree of careful planning if the intention is to launch and recover the boat in the same day, for the end of the slip drops away to the harbour bottom in a series of short sharp steps, making the recovery of boats impossible once the water level drops below a certain level.
So this Saturday gone, with quite large tides predicted, timing was of the essence if embarrassment and frustration were to be avoided. Indeed on arrival at the harbour, some haste had to be employed to ensure that the club RIB Seawitch was quickly launched before the retreating tidal water dropped below the edge of the slip.
Once safely loaded, Seawitch headed out of the harbour entrance before heading south down the coast towards Burnmouth, to dive the wreck site of the SS East Neuk.
This steam powered converted trawler was wrecked on the 30/8/1923 after striking the South Carr rocks whilst on passage with a cargo of timber. The wreck itself lays several hundred metres out from the fishing village of Burnmouth .
It is however not the easiest of wreck sites to locate as the main area of wreckage lays in a dip in the seabed surrounded by gully’s making it quite difficult to find on most sounders. It is also a site most comfortably dived on slack water, as the tide flows quite strongly across this area. On this occasion we had just missed slack water, so it was a case of dropping down the shot as quickly as possible followed by a hard crawl across the seabed before taking shelter in amongst the wreckage which afforded a degree of protection from the full force of the tidal current.
The wreck now consists of a large boiler, behind which is situated the upright remains of the engine block. One can still follow the shaft down to the iron propeller. Scattered all around this wreckage is a debris field of rusting steel plate and the odd deck winch. The wreckage however is quite scenic, as the fast flowing water has encouraged a rich covering of marine growth on the more exposed surfaces of the wreck and surrounding gully’s.
This site was also notable on this occasion for a number of large wrasse that where observed patrolling around the wreckage.
Once everyone had been safely recovered, it was a quick ride back to Eyemouth to replace empty cylinders and eat some lunch.
In the afternoon, Seawitch again headed south out of the Harbour for the short journey down to the site of the wreck of the SS President and the scenic Agate Arch.
The SS President was wrecked in fog on the 29/04/1928 , as it neared the end of its journey from Hamburg to Methil in Fife . The wreck has been extensively salvaged as well as battered by numerous storms over the any intervening years. Nevertheless she still provides an interesting rummage dive with plenty of recognisable steam ship ‘fixtures and fittings’, including her boilers, deck winches and stern emergency wheel. We even came across a steel porthole still firmly attached to large steel plate.
Agate Arch lies north across the small bay from the site of the President. Indeed it is possible with a little careful planning to explore both sites during the course of one dive. This scenic underwater arch is situated amongst the reefs that are to found at the end of Agates point. All around this area are numerous large rocks and pinnacles that rise up steeply from the bottom, their topside surfaces covered in swaying kelp. The arch is easily missed, but once located makes for quite an impressive site, particularly when the visibility is good. The tidal current that passes through the arch has also ensured that it is covered in a rich mantel of deadman’s fingers and other soft corals. On this occasion some of the group were also entertained by a passing shoal of mackerel that circled above and around them.
Once the last diver had been recovered from the water, Seawitch headed back into Eyemouth. It had been a long day, with all members of the party completing 3 dives each. With a full tide in, it proved a relatively easy task recovering the RIB from the water via the harbour slip. Another excellent days diving courtesy of Mr Andy Hunt.