28th September 2013
by Richard Booth
The weekend offered some of the best neap tides to fall on a weekend this year, so expectations were high with plans set to dive the wreck of the SS Nideleven, which lays off the fishing village of Craster.
By Friday evening however it was all too clear that whilst the tides might be good, the weather and sea conditions would require a re-think. Saturday still looked the better day, so after a quick re-assessment the decision was made to dive the Farnes rather than the more exposed wreck site of the Nideleven.
Heading out of Seahouses the club rib had an interesting ride out through the chop thrown up by the opposing forces of wind and tide. Heading closer to the Farnes it was clear from the waves breaking on the south side of the islands that sites would be somewhat limited by the conditions.
Most of the charter boats had sought shelter on the east side of the Longstone or in the shelter on the north side of the Farnes.
We opted however to look at the possibility of diving the wreck of the SS Chris Christenson. The wreck was quickly located and the shot line dropped. Conditions however were marginal to say the least with quite a swell rolling in over the site. Seawitch headed over to more sheltered waters to allow the first wave of divers to kit up in relative comfort. Once kitted up the club rib sped out through the waves to drop the group off onto the shot buoy.
On the bottom they found that the shot weight had landed close to one of the boilers.
From here they descended down to the collapsed remains of the bows before heading back along the wreckage, eventually reaching the remains of the rudder and the iron propeller. They returned to the surface enthused by their experience and the good underwater visibility. Roles were reversed and the second wave entered the water. By now the tide was on the turn, and the current was picking up. Richard and Tiago explored around the boilers and the remains of the old compound steam engine, now resting on its side.
Inquisitive seals demonstrated their free diving prowess dancing around the wreckage with ease at 32metres.
Heading back up the wreckage the increasing tide swept them off the wreck, but eventually they safely reached the reef wall.
Here they continued to be harried by playful seals whilst admiring the scenic views.
Once all divers were safely recovered, Seawitch headed around to the north side of the Farnes passing a cluster of charter boats hovering around the north Warmses.
For the remaining dives of the day we opted to explore some of the ‘anomaly marks’ identified from the recent survey by Wessex Archaeology. The first dive revealed some intriguing boulders although sadly no exciting signs of wreckage but was enlivened by an over friendly young seal!
For the final dive of the day we headed over to another intriguing mark identified by the Wessex team. The last wave descended the shotline and whilst again no wreckage was found, the young seals that turned up to play with the divers ensured another fantastic dive. Another great days diving with more rust and fur! Thanks to Hubert Desgranges for organising this club dive trip.
Andy & Fiona Hunt