Farne Islands

10th June 2012

by Richard Booth

With the club RIB Seawitch back from pre-season repairs/servicing and the recent poor weather it was with a certain level of apprehension that club members assembled at Seahouses harbour. The closed slipway barrier and absence of other dive RIBS, plus the odd wave breaking over the outer harbour wall added to this sense of foreboding.  Once in the water however Seawitches engine fired into life at the first turn of the key. Things were looking up! Heading out of the shelter of the harbour the swell was quite large but not too uncomfortable as we made our way across the open sea towards the relative shelter of the Farnes.











In view of the swell and strong tides we opted for a first dive on the wreck of the St Andre off Staple Island. This wreck was quickly located and the shot dropped close to one of the boilers. Despite the recent strong winds and resultant surge, underwater visibility proved to be surprisingly good with lots of light reflected off the bottom. Richard and Jonathan focused their dive on obtaining images of the wreck whilst Andy methodically mapped out the lay of the wreckage across the site.

For the second dive we headed over to Big Harcar to dive the site known as Graces Hole, a large gully where local legend has it that the Darlings kept there rowing boat used in the daring rescue of the passengers and crew of the Forfarshire; how the Darlings actually got across to Big Harcar from the Longstone lighthouse is not at all clear, especially during stormy weather. The legend however adds a nice bit of history and historical interest to this dive site.

On reaching the site and with the tide screaming pass on the ebb, the plan was to drop in off the RIB and drift down to the gully entrance. On reaching the entrance to the gully a shy seal made several brief passes. Inside the gully itself we came across a few small lobsters. At the back of the gully there are also a couple of small caves that we explored. Swimming back towards the entrance it was evident from the amount of life clinging to the right hand entrance wall that this is an area that catches a lot of strong current. Sure enough on exiting the cave we were carried speedily along by the strong tidal current. A delayed surface marker boy was immediately sent up to give the RIB crew an indication of our fast progress across the channel towards the Wamses and Pipers Gut. It provided an exhilarating and fun end to the dive.

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