Again, this was the first Spellbinder trip of the year, with the June trip having been cancelled as DEFRA had jumped in and banned all charter boats in the UK for a couple of weeks. With sense prevailing and charter diving resumed, we were able to head out of the Tyne, aboard Spellbinder, with Alan Lopez at the helm. We’d reduced the group size to 8 so that we could have more room and keep to the 1m plus guidance. I think we all really liked the additional room.
The first dive was on the wreck of the Elise, lying in 26 metres of water, it was an armed steam trawler of 239 tons, sunk after striking a mine on 22 September 1918. As we dropped down the shot, with the sun shining above, we found that the visibility was quite good. Alan had placed the shot just to aft of the boiler, so we were able to fin to the stern and see the propeller. The stern section is still partially upstanding, though it is apparent that a lot of this wreck has now collapsed. Moving forward, the engine block seems to be lying to starboard of the boiler, by about 5 metres. It almost looks like a small car, sat on the seabed. Moving forward, there is more wreckage to see, including a wee octopus just off the bow. With the visibility being 4-6 metres, possibly more, it made for a great dive compared to last time, when even finding the boiler from the stern was difficult. Finally I have perspective!
Back on board, and the clouds starting to gather, we headed in towards Blyth, and then put a shot on the wreck of the Pandora. This is a staple wreck of the Spellbinder repertoire, but one which doesn’t disappoint. We all dropped down the shot to the boilers, from which you have two options: 1) follow the propeller shaft to the stern and look for the many propellers or, 2) find the anchor next to the boilers, and swim over the coal to the bow, which still stands quite proud of the seabed and is generally full of bib, swimming around.
It seems that during the winter storms, quite a bit of sand has collected in over the wreck around the stern area, so the propellers aren’t so visible, and one has disappeared. Parts of the bow seem to be collapsing too. The fishermen seem to use the wreck as a dumping ground too, the amount of netting on the wreck is increasing, some still tied up into a need stack, ready for disposal, it certainly doesn’t look like an accidently lost trawling netting.
Back on the surface, we were fed chicken curry on the journey back south to the mouth of the Tyne. Six of the eight divers wanted to do a third dive, so we headed to the Oslo Fjord, which is shallow, sitting in 14 metres of water, close to the mouth of the Tyne. The wreckage still has sections of tiled floors, boilers and other engine parts, miles of electrical wiring, and for me, lots of marine life. We only did a short dive, but it was nice to see lots of small cod, butter fish and scorpion fish.
Finally, we all headed back up the Tyne, for a first drop off at the Customs House, then the final drop off and boat mooring, at Royal Quays. A lovely day, with great visibility and good company.