18th August 2013
by Richard Booth
The original plan was to dive the wreck of the SS. Nidelven off Craster, a 42 metre dive out in exposed water.
The strong wind forecast however soon put paid to this plan. Instead, after a few calls to Paul and Graham Crowe, a new plan was devised to dive out of St Abbs harbour from the MV Stingray. Here the high cliffs would hopefully offer a measure of protection from the strong Westerly breeze.
So it was that seven club members made the long journey north up the A1 to St Abbs.
Once mustered in the car park, dive gear was quickly loaded aboard the MV Stingray and we headed out of the harbour for the first dive site, the Black Carrs.
On the short journey across the bay, it was all too clear that every other dive boat in the local area had clearly also had similar thoughts, as the waters around the reef was a mass of charter boats more reminiscent of the Northern Red Sea than little old St Abbs! What would it be like underwater? Would it be a mass of divers stirring up the sediment? Fortunately not, for as soon as we dropped below the surface we could see the cliff along the edge of the reef dropping away down to the seabed some 13 metres below.
Nor was there a crowd of other divers. Instead we headed down the edge of the reef in search of the old anchor. En-route we past the old radar screen now with even more marine life colonizing its smooth surfaces. At around 23 metres we encountered the old anchor before drifting gently back across the reef, exploring the numerous rocky pinnacles and gullies that can be found in the shallower water. In our search we encountered numerous wrasse and the odd solitary wolfish.
A fantastic first dive to start the day on.
For the second dive, and with the breeze picking up quite considerably from that experienced in the morning, we opted to head for a dive on the Ebb Carrs to explore the wreck of the SS Alfred Erlandsen. This small cargo vessel was lost on the 17th October 1907 on passage from Riga to Grangemouth when she was wrecked on the Ebb Carrs with the loss of her entire crew of sixteen souls.
With the tide now on the ebb, we assembled in a ‘stick’ line and made a quick exit off the back of the boat ’paratrooper style’ and drifted gently with the current until the reef wall loomed into view. Immediately in the first gully we encountered an old steel porthole and other trinkets from a wreck.
Moving around the reef we entered another gully and here we encountered the main area of wreckage from the Alfred Erlandsen. Swimming down this gully we came across deck winches, fallen lifeboat davits, two boilers and a mass of girders and plates.
Moving around the outside of the reef we encountered further gullies, some filled with shoals of hunting fish, others containing yet more wreckage.
If anything, the underwater visibility seemed even clearer than the earlier dive in the day, perhaps due to the fact that we were the only dive group on this site. It allowed us to really appreciate the more scenic aspects of this dive as every exposed rock and cliff appeared to be covered in a thick layer of soft marine growth.
The agreed dive plan however required that everyone ended the dive by swimming out into open water to allow Graham to safely manoeuvre Stingray in order to pick up members of the group away from the hazard of the reef and nearby pot-lines.
I am happy to report however that everyone stuck to this plan and it was a happy group of divers that returned safely to St Abbs after a great day’s diving from the MV Stingray.
Many thanks to Graham Crowe for a great day’s diving.
Tyneside dive team.
Andy & Fiona Hunt