Sunshine on the Tyne

Conditions couldn’t have been better for this fantastic trip to the North East. Bright sunny skies, no breeze and a very calm sea.

Unfortunately, P&O weren’t able to take advantage of the lovely conditions as we see here a very sad and unused cruise ship.

Diving with Allan Lopez on Spellbinder II we push off down the Tyne with the sun beaming down on us. I reach for the only sun cream I can find which is factor 50 and Allan’s deck hand Mark says “that’s a donkey jacket where I come from”.

Our first dive was on the Eston a 240 feet long Cargo Vessel just off the coast at Whitley Bay. Whilst vis is rarely fantastic off the Tyne most of us managed well enough, however there was a normally inseparable diver pair that did not get to make best use of their Nitrox fills 😉

A highlight of the dive was the sighting of a wolf fish which I made very vocal (I wanted to share it with everyone). Apparently, I’ll never need a tank clacker due to the distance my screams of joy can travel.

On our surface interval we were presented with the very welcome curry & rice that Allan & Mark never fail to serve up. If you can’t manage it all, the gulls are always on hand to help out (just remember to check the wind direction before launching it skyward as your fellow divers don’t always appreciate the curry shower, sorry guys). I think I redeemed myself with the endless supply of wine gums.

The second dive was on the Cider Wreck (aka the ‘55’), another very pleasant dive and this time all divers managed to stay together.

Back on-board and the sun is still shining down on us for a very pleasant cruise back to Mill Dam for offloading.

We didn’t have far to go this time for air fills as the Aquanorth Diving Centre is just around the corner from Customs House. What fabulous service we received; they even loaded the full cylinders back into the van which gave us even more time for a deco beer (cheers guys).

After another deco beer, shower and shine back at the hotel we were ready for the main event of the evening, the aptly named Man Vs Food. This location would normally be a challenge for most but not our every hungry Jay, who true to form demolished every morsel without breaking stride.

Sunday morning, we descend upon the Premium Inn breakfast which in these covid times proves to be frustrating but hilarious. We blind order what would normally be on display as a breakfast buffet and receive various bits close to what we imagined but not quite. Jay of course orders a banquet then in the rush to go diving Steve & I leave without paying (we of course returned later to square up).

It was a full day of diving starting on the Pandora (aka Dolphin) then the Hanne and finally the Oslofjord/Evgenia Chandris.

Highpoints from Sunday include multiple sightings of an Angler Fish, hundreds of bullets to be found on the Oslofjord and of course the lunchtime Spellbinder curry special.

Thanks to all who came and made it a weekend to remember and thanks to Allan and Mark for an excellent charter.

Andrew

Noah and the Wrecks

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 o􀆒 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.

Keith

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