Reports by Stuart McKendrick and Bryan Stone
Although the forecast was a little marginal four of us Bryan, Stuart, Steve S and Steve A decided to risk a trip out to the Shirala. As it turned out the sea was flat calm, and the temperature had dropped a bit so was fine for a few hours in a drysuit. There was a three-hour slack, so we arrived after it had started and surprisingly found the wreck and got the shot in quickly.
Steve S and I were first in and found the shot to be lying about 4m in front of the bow which meant our first view of the wreck was the bow sticking out of the seabed. Visibility was about 4 to 5m and the water temperature a lovely 18 degrees, Steve was in a wetsuit and was perfectly happy. We first explored the bow section which was full of life with Edible crabs, Conger eels, Lobsters and the usual large amount of Bib. We then swam along the wreck to the boilers and on past to where the wreck breaks up a bit more. We had a good rummage around the broken plates on the seabed, then up on a DSMB for a safety stop to complete a lovely 50 minute dive.
After Bryan and Steve A had finished their dive (see Bryan’s report below) we had a quick chat with the Selsey BSAC boat who were also diving the wreck and then a quick journey back to the marina on a flat calm sea.
After much studying of a very variable weather forecast, a decision was made to take a chance a give a dive a go. It was an ominous start when we realised we hadn’t even agreed a café, so Stuart and Steve S met at Rita’s whilst team Stone (Tracey, Amy and Zoe) helped myself and Steve A prep the boat and grab a quick cup of tea and sandwich at the boat house.
The boat / river taxi was launched, only to realise that the port engine wasn’t keen on starting. We travelled down the river on one engine, dropping off the non-divers at the public quay, before trying the engine again. It eventually started, and after leaving it running for a few minutes, tried starting it again. Happy that it was now happier to start, we headed off towards the Shirala.
Heading out, we realised we didn’t know how the new sounder worked, and we not really able to get a solid image of the seabed whilst travelling out. However, once on site things looked much better, and after a bit of faffing the shot was deployed, hopefully somewhere near the wreck.
Stuart and Steve S both had 15 cylinders with Nitrox, so made a good pairing, and had an enjoyable 50 minute dive (See Stuart’s report above). Whilst they were under, Selsey BSAC joined us, slightly surprised, and disappointed that we already had divers in the water. They decided to do a very slow lowering of an anchor, although whilst doing this Stuart’s blob appeared some way away. Upon recovering them, we were informed that the shot was about a metre off the bow.
Myself and Steve A dropped down, and took the swim through then headed back over the wreck. It seems that some sand has moved, and an area under the bow decking was more exposed than before. Not quite enough to swim under, but getting there. Due to a less then great fill, Steve ran low on gas earlier than would have been nice, so a decision to ascend was made. Back on board the boat, I expressed my concern that both of Steve’s UK dives had actually been warm, with good viz and lots of life, and we were giving him a false sense of UK diving….
Stuart had problems starting the starboard engine, but we eventually got this going again, then headed back, picking up the rest of our team, taking them for a quick spin at sea, before returning to the marina, another successful dive in completed