30th August 2014
by Richard Booth
It’s been a while since the club last organised a dive off the Tyne. An earlier attempt in the season had to be abandoned after fog rolled in off the North Sea.
Indeed the run up to this latest weekend was not particularly good until the winds started to blow offshore and sea started to calm down. What would the under visibility be like after the recent swell and rain? These thoughts were put to the back of our minds as 10 club members, plus two guests loaded their kit aboard Spellbinder. The aim was to at least to complete a dive and a marine life survey on the wreck of the Oslofjord, a Norwegian liner that was mined off the Tyne in 1940.
Allen Lopez, Spellbinders skipper dropped the shotline into the area of the Oslo’s engine room. The first wave of divers into the water explored around the huge diesel engines before following the wreckage to the north west towards the stern area of the wreck.
The second ‘group’ headed southeast into the current following the wreckage trail towards the remains of the bow.
The wreck of the Oslofjord is well broken up, but you can still get a sense of the scale of this once mighty liner by the size of some of some of the machinery that litters the seabed. Each season, new parts of the wreck appear to rise out of the seabed whilst other familiar items vanish. The wreck is therefore ever changing as the season’s storms take their toll on this site.
At the stern area, Richard and Tiago came across a huge piece of heavy rusting steel complete with large teeth cut into the metal work. Given its location it possibly is the remains of the steering quadrant which once would have turned the vessels huge rudder.
Whilst the underwater visibility was not the best, it still proved sufficient to obtain some reasonable photo’s of marine life and allow a good exploration of the wreckage.
Once everyone was safely recovered, Spellbinder headed north in search of clearer water. The site selected was the wreck of the SS Pandora, another mine victim from WW2.
The shot was dropped near to the wreck’s boilers although or two of the group struggled to find them in the limited visibility.
Those that did were rewarded with an interesting dive exploring around the boilers and propeller shaft.
Swimming further north over the wreckage a lucky few even made it to the bow of this wreck. Rumours that the bow has collapsed to the seabed proved totally unfounded.
The bow, resting on its port side still rises some 5 metres off the seabed. It is easy to enter into this area of wreckage and makes an imposing sight with shoals of fish sheltering inside the bow and light rays streaming in through gaps in the hull. Areas of the bow are also heavily encrusted in soft corals.
The final dive of the day was on a shallow wreck of the Sandhaven beach known locally as ‘the Wheel Wreck’.
The wreckage on this site is quite scattered and a mixture of concrete and rusting steel.
The origins and actual name of this vessel appear to have been lost in time. Nevertheless the site was notable for numerous lobsters that appear to have taken up residence in the wreckage including one large one encountered in a small boiler that was located away from the main area of wreckage.
Thanks to Nicola for organising the dive and Jonathon for dive marshalling the event.