19th July 1015
By Richard Booth
The seaward side of the Knivestone reef usually offers some shelter from the ebbing tide, particularly when much of the reef is exposed above the surface and there is no swell crashing on to the rocks. It is therefore not surprising that when conditions are good, it is a popular option with local charter boats and visiting divers. So it proved on this occasion with several charter boats and RIB’s dropping off divers close to the main area of wreckage.
Here can be found an old iron propeller and further down the slope a fine example of a large steam compound engine now resting on its side.
A solitary ballan wrasse in its fine breeding colours patrolled around this now silent engine.
Close by are two large ships boilers and other wreck debris.
Indeed this particular site offers enough wreckage to usually fill an entire dive.
The Knivestone however has claimed other vessels along its seaward side, as we discovered when diving this reef last September: http://www.tynesidebsac.co.uk/knivestone-wreck-graveyard-of-the-farnes/
After a brief exploration around the main area of wreckage, some of the group moved off this area, keeping the reef on their left, whilst drifting past impressive submarine cliffs covered in soft corals. Eventually they found and entered a narrow gully along which bits of wreckage were strewn. Here they also encountered an inquisitive seal.
Pushing on further the gully eventually opened out into a plateau and here they came across more wreckage including a large solitary boiler.
Bottom plates could be seen under the surrounding kelp and weed. A brief search however failed to reveal the remains of the ships steam engine With the planned dive at an end, it was time to head for the surface but this ‘new’ wreckage was noted for a further return visit as soon as sea conditions would allow. This particular dive raised more interesting questions; what was the name and history of this wreck? The Knivestone reef clearly still holds many secrets and that is one of the joys of diving this reef; no two dives are ever the same and you can still be surprised by the unexpected particularly if you are willing to explore away from the popular established dive sites.
For the second dive, the RIB headed over to Staple Island for a dive on the wreck of the St Andre, an old club favourite site.
This particular site has the added advantage of being diveable at all states of the tide and benefits from the shelter of the nearby cliffs. On this occasion however underwater visibility proved a little disappointing but nevertheless those that dived this site still enjoyed exploring around the flattened wreckage.