Channel Islands 4 – 10 June 2011

9 CSAC divers (Andy Hicks, Mike Potter, Paul Quilter, Chris Roberts, Miles Smith, Len Tridgell, David Tobin, Gary Tomlin, and Mike Winter) travelled to Plymouth on Saturday 4 June to rendez vous with the Loyal Watcher, captained by Darren and Linda Flint.

After stowing kit and a safety briefing, all adjourned to the Borringdon Arms for a hearty supper and suitable refreshment.

 

Sunday weather was windy.  We stopped off en route to the Channel Islands to dive the Persier, torpedoed in February 1945 by a U Boat.  This dive was to about 30 meters in very good visibility with plenty of life on the wreck.  Then we battened down the hatches and steamed across the English Channel in rough conditions – enough to test the powers of Stugeron!   The passage to Guernsey took about 8 hours and we arrived at St Peter Port in the evening to moor in a (thankfully!) calm area outside Guernsey’s main harbour.  Appetites returned, Linda rustled up an excellent lasagne followed by ice cream.

 

Monday’s tide turned early and so the planned dive was aborted and we moved to a very nice wall dive on the south side of Sark.  Amidst ferocious currents at either end, we were able to explore a wall, which offered interesting dives at various depths dropping away to well beyond 40m.

 

 

Then we set sail for Jersey and a wreck on the south side of the island.  This is the wreck Princess Ena, which sank in 1935 after catching fire.  Fortunately, 500 boy scouts had just been put ashore in Jersey.  The visibility was good again and offered a panoramic view of the wreck descending the shot line to about 40m.  Although the ship sank while in ballast, interesting cargo included railway tracks and a large sea anchor.  Possibly due to Jersey’s no take policy there were several large lobsters and crabs to see, and some very large conger eels (heads as big as Labradors).

 

After a long and choppy steam back to Guernsey we moored up in the bay near St Peter Port.  Chicken curry for supper!

 

Tuesday and Wednesday presented opportunities to dive some wrecks in the vicinity of the entrance to Guernsey harbour, including the wreck of the Rudolf Warhendorff, sunk in 1944 by planes from the Fleet Air Arm, lying in about 30m, the Oost Vlaanderen sunk by the RAF in 1943, a large box wreck (reappearance of the black stone from 2001Space Odyssey….?), as well as a pinnacle dive, off an island near Guernsey.

 

We steamed to Jersey early in the morning and had two excellent dives on Thursday.  First, the Dutch commandeered ship the Schokland. This ship sank in January 1943 while carrying building materials (concrete and steel joists) intended to be used in enemy fortification of Jersey under occupation – as well as German soldiers going on leave to France.  There was a large engine block and boilers and a bath also visible, but jack boots that were supposed to be in the bath area were no longer there.

 

 

 

Then we then dived on an armed trawler, which was well broken up.  Amidst the wreckage, there was abundant marine life, including various species of crab, lots of lobsters, conger eels and a cuttlefish – which showed off its power to change colour.

 

After steaming back to Guernsey, we had a barbeque on deck and then put ashore for our last night in St Peter Port.

 

On Friday we set off early to catch the tide and steamed to the site of the Murree.  This is an enormous Pakistani container ship (150m long, 20m wide) which sank in a storm in 1989 when some of its containers broke loose.  One container, still tied to the ship by a hawser, repeatedly battered the side of the ship until the hull was holed and the ship mortally wounded.  The helicopter scrambled to rescue the reported 14 crew found about 40 people on board! The wreck lies in about 65m standing 15m proud of the seabed.  We descended the shot to the top of a mast at about 35m, then to the deck area at about 50m; diving on air.  The ship is in good shape, covered with anenomes white and orange, with winches that were still working.  Some care was needed due to nets.  After only a short time at the deck, due to the depth and deco penalties, we were back up the line to a lazy shot for deco. An exciting dive!

 

 

All too soon, our week’s diving was over and we were steaming back on our way to moor at the Mountbatten Marina, Plymouth.

 

This was great week’s diving with some excellent wrecks and positive experiences of diving from the Loyal Watcher.

 

Many thanks to Andy Hicks for organising!

 

CR

 

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