MV Acclivity, Northumberland Coast

11th May 2008

by Richard Booth

The weekend had commenced with glorious weather on the Saturday, with bright sunshine and a flat glass like sea. Hopes were therefore high for a similar day on the Sunday. We woke instead to a dull day with low cloud and misty conditions restricting surface visibility.

Somewhat optimistically we drove into Beadnel car park with the intention of launching from the beach and heading out down the coast towards Craster to search for the wreck site of the Acclivity. Mindful that the surface visibility was restricted to several hundred meters we set forth down the coast. On arrival on the GPS coordinates we quickly located the wreck and dropped the shotline. Mindful that the visibility could deteriorate further, a quick risk assessment decided that in the event that the shot was located off the wreck, then the plan would be for individuals to reel off from the line to the wreck, in order to ensure that everyone would make it back to the line and the waiting RIB. As it turned out the shot landed close to the deck side of the wreck making it very easy to re-locate, even in the relative gloom below 20 metres.
The M/V Acclivity was a small coastal tanker built in 1931. She survived the ravages of WW II, only to founder in severe weather on the night of the 20th January 1952. At the time of her sinking she was apparently carrying a cargo of Linseed oil. For many years this cargo continued to seep out of her cargo tanks resulting in a thin film of oil on the surface, resulting in the wreck becoming known locally as the ’Linseed Wreck’. Back in the 1970’s it was apparently possible to actually locate this wreck site by following this trail of oil that drifted along the surface pulled by the tidal current. Her cargo of linseed oil has however subsequently long since dispersed requiring GPS and a good sounder to now locate this site…

The wreck itself lies on her port side in 32 metres of water and is reasonably intact and still very recognisable as a small ship. She is sufficiently small enough to comfortably explore along her decks in one dive.
In our case we first went forward and explored the area around her bow, before drifting back along her deck area back towards her stern. Her single propeller remains in place. Heading on we came across a large gash in the bottom of her hull which allows easy penetration back through the deck area via her open hold area. Ascending back up the shot line we were relieved to see that the surface visibility had not worsened and that the RIB was waiting patiently to pick us up.

Once all safely on board we headed back up the coast towards Beadnel Point for a second dive; the further north we headed however the more the surface visibility deteriorated due to the worsening misty conditions. Fortunately with charts and a GPS system we were well equipped to navigate our way back to Beadnel.
On arrival at Beadnel Point, the RIB was anchored and we completed a second dive on the site of the M/V Yewglen, a small coaster wrecked when it literally ran across the point in foggy conditions on the 29th February 1960, whilst on passage from London to the port of Leith. The wreck was subsequently extensively salvaged but wreckage can still be located on the north side of the point in 6-10 metres of water. May is usually a good time to dive this site as the winter storms inevitably remove much of the covering kelp and weed that otherwise tend to cover much of the wreckage. Indeed on this occasion the combination of a settled sea and underwater visibility of around 5 metres gave a good rummage dive amongst the rusting steel plates that are scattered across the bottom. Sections of the hull bottom as well as deck winches and a boiler can all be found quite close to the point. Numerous shore divers were also observed making the long treck along the point to dive this site. Needless to say diving this site from a boat is a lot less onerous. From this site it is only a short run back to Beadnel Bay beach and the waiting recovery tractor. Thanks to Hubert for organising an excellent days diving.