Noah and the Wrecks – South Shields

Very early Saturday morning saw our intrepid divers heading up the A1 towards South Shields to pick up Spellbinder, our dive boat for the weekend. The rain was so heavy that at one point I was tempted to call the skipper to come and pick us up at the roadside with the boat as I’m convinced the water was deep enough.

As it happens we all managed to make it to the jetty at Mill Dam on time to hit our ropes off target. I did have a chat with a bloke called Noah at the jetty who wanted to take an even number of his menagerie of animals onto the boat with us but unfortunately we didn’t have enough room for the giraffes so had to leave without him.

Skipper Allan Lopez navigated us out to the first wreck SS Eston successfully and we were encouraged by the reports of 7m of viz from the previous evening. Now I’m sure some of you will have been on many trips and read enough of these reports to know where we’re going next. Sure enough the 3m of viz was a little disappointing but everyone had a decent swim around the wreckage and some of us even found some recognisable parts of it.

The second dive took us to an old favourite on this coast with the wreck of the Pandora. No talk of good viz this time which is just as well but we did get another metre or so which helped. Lots of life on the bow section with a new split in the wreck to give a bigger swim through in that area. Some divers found their way to the stern to find the prop mostly buried again this year.

Having done two dives we now got onto the main event on any Spellbinder trip – lunch! As usual Allan didn’t disappoint and a bowl of steaming chicken curry and rice was presented to each of us almost before any kit had been taken off. Something shocking did happen at this point as human dustbin Jay Lawson couldn’t eat all his lunch. This has never been seen before with Jay and I can only hope it doesn’t happen again.

For those hardy souls who were up for it there was a third “cheeky” dive on the wrecks of the Oslofjord and Eugenia Chandris which lay on top of each other just off the mouth of the Tyne. Not everyone did this and the Dive Avoidance Specialty will be awarded to those divers in accordance to club rules – you know who you are guys!

The Sunderland annual Air Show was on for the weekend and we did get to see some impressive formation flying and a direct fly over by a Chinook helicopter.

As we came back in to the Tyne Allan had some bad news for us as the weather forecast for the Sunday winds wasn’t great and the diving for the rest of the weekend was to be cancelled.

As you will understand, everyone was pretty put out by this, but in the best club traditions we quickly put this setback behind us and went to the pub. And then another pub, which was followed up by an evening meal at the Man Vs Food restaurant in South Shields. Unfortunately, Food won and Jay had to settle for a doggy bag in an attempt to retrieve his rapidly disappearing reputation as the club food processing plant.

Thanks to everyone on the trip for making this a great, if slightly shortened, weekend.


Final picture is in the form of a caption competition. My effort on this is; – “To his horror, Bob suddenly realises that he’s run out of pies!”

Clyde trip report – a skipper’s perspective

I like that Robin Hood Dive Club crowd, they make my life easy. There I was sitting at home on Friday in Dunoon by Holy Loch and my Facebook started pinging again. They’re on their way to the Firth of Clyde for a weekend of wreck and scenic dives. They included me in their FB chat group so was able to follow their progress. Some I knew, Tim, Liz, Keith, Amanda and Tom and others I was going to meet tomorrow for the first time. It’s 9.00pm now and the last ones have arrived at Roberta’s Guest House in Largs.

My name is Jason and co-owner of Wreckspeditions, also skipper of our boat, the Starfish Enterprise (yeah, a little bit corny). We operate wherever we need to, but mainly diving everything the Clyde and Scottish Lochs have to offer. Tomorrow I’ll be picking them up from Inverkip Marina.

They’re on time as usual and I get to meet the new divers, Dan, Trevor and Andy (they seem OK). So, just three rebreathers this year, down from 4 last time out. Still enough room on the spacious 8 metre RIB, fitted out with divers in mind. The weather forecast has improved and everyone is smiling as they think they’ve beaten the weather. I live here, I know it will change for sure.

Our first dive is on the Akka, the largest wreck in the Clyde at over 130m long with depths ranging from 16m at the bow to 40m to the seabed at the stern. When it’s good it’s very, very good but visibility can change pretty quickly so I hope they’re smiling when they come back up. Tim & Liz are first in to check the shot and place the strobe in the right place. It also frees up lots of space for the others to kit up. I’ve fitted a couple of kit platforms at the rear to help with that.

That’s 45 minutes gone and the first ones surface, the rest popping up over the next 15 minutes. The chatter on the boat is positive; the visibility has been pretty good with everyone having had a good dive and all managed to find the shotline. Tea and coffee all round with home made scones goes down well. Back we go to Inverkip Marina for a soup and a roll and to refresh the cylinders. Still the weather holds, we might get lucky whilst the rest of the country is swimming in thunderstorms.

Our second dive is going to be on the Inverkip pier, and nice scenic bimble with lots of fish life, scallops, giant starfish and crabs. Don’t think the fishermen on the pier are too impressed with us being there. But I’m polite and apologise in advance for any lines we might (will) get tangled in. Again everyone is happy, the talk is again positive. Everyone seems to have got the measure of the entries and exits and work as a team to help de-kit. It’s back to Inverkip to disembark and we quickly agree a plan for Sunday.

Ping, ping, ping goes Facebook Messenger, it sounds like they’re having a good time in Largs at Tony Macaroni’s pizza and then a few sherbets in Room, a local bar with live entertainment. I’m busy at home in Dunoon watching the weather forecast deteriorate.

Sunday comes, everyone’s on time, nobody’s hung over and it’s still not raining. We’re off to dive the Wallachia, another wreck in the Clyde at around 34m that can offer differing levels of visibility. The wind is picking up a bit so will be glad when it’s done. Off they go and I can spend the next hour worrying. Here comes the rain, glad I togged up right today as it’s not one for tee shirts.

And up they come, and I can see smiles again. Tom and Andy are first back and they’re happy. Everyone finds the shot line and again the Pathfinder strobe has done its job. The other six pop up 5 minutes later at the same time; this will be fun. The wind has picked up and the rain is pouring. I spend a frantic 10-15 minutes getting everyone in and safe. Apparently the visibility has once again been excellent and those who have dived the Wallachia before say that it’s the best they’ve ever had. The highlight being the giant propeller covered in soft corals and plumose anenomes. Nobody could remove any of the bottles in the hold, I told them they are welded in but still they try.

It’s a bit quiet in the back as we arrive back in the marina to discuss the final dive and the weather has added a touch of gloom to the proceedings. There, someone said it and the rest quickly agree. Let’s call it off and stick while we’re ahead. That suits me too so I help with washing down kit and carrying cylinders back to the cars.

Ping, ping, ping goes the Facebook Messenger over the next few hours. Some make it back to Yorkshire quickly, some stop for a sleep at Gretna, but by 8pm I know they’re all home. I can rest easy. I like that Robin Hood Dive Club lot, they can come back again.

A Weekend To Remember


Weymouth Early Starts and a Wet Diver

Friday evening brought staggered arrival times in Weymouth but everybody eventually made it to the Florian Guesthouse which was our base for the weekend and some of us even managed to get to the pub for a few restrained beers due to the early ropes off on Saturday morning.
We were woken on Saturday to fabulous blue skies and very little wind so headed down to the quayside to pick up our dive boat Tango which is skippered by Phil Corben and his first mate Pete.
Our steam out to the first dive site was on slight seas which held promise of good visibility for the day. First dive was on the wreck of Alex Van Opstal which is a little broken but was carried out in good viz and sunlight down to the wreck in 30m of water. The volume of congers and tompot blennies set the scene for the rest of the weekend. Second dive was a 20m drift off Portland which was again clear but was quieter than expected.
Saturday evening, we experienced Weymouth’s finest Italian restaurant and had a look at the festival taking place in town along the quayside area. Another early ropes off for Sunday brought an early end to activities. That is until we landed back in the local pub and had an impromptu pool tournament.

The weather we’d had on Saturday took a short break elsewhere for Sunday and we got a cloudy sky and choppy seas. We made our way out to the wreck of the Aeolean Sky and were rewarded with excellent viz on the wreck which made up for the lumpy trip out. Everyone enjoyed the wreck with the exception of one pair of divers where one of them clumsily cut a hole in the leg of his dry suit about fifteen minutes into the dive. Swimming around the wreck with his finger in the hole for another fifteen minutes he must have looked a bit of a loon. Ok, ok that very wet diver was me and I had to miss the next dive which was a drift at Lulworth Banks while drying me and the suit out.
After some frantic suit patching we headed out into town for the festival street food. Unfortunately, after watching this going on for two days we missed it by fifteen minutes. Never mind, fish and chips are always a treat at the seaside followed by a walk and a few beers and another early night due to the even earlier ropes off time on Monday. What idiot agreed these times!? – I’ll leave you to guess the answer to that.
We did find these strange characters on our walk along the sea front though.

Monday brought a brighter start and calmer seas for the steam out to the wreck of the British submarine HMS M2. Unfortunately, we had a bit of plankton on the wreck which reduced the visibility and some current which made the dive a bit of a chug when going into it. Never the less it saw a good dive with most divers seeing all of the wreck before having to ascend. You’ll be pleased to know (well I certainly was) that the drysuit repair of the previous evening worked a treat and a dry dive was had by all. The second dive was a bimble off Portland in 14m which a much reduced number of divers took part in. The Dive Avoidance Specialty will be awarded to those divers in accordance to club rules.