SISAC Swanage Dive Trip – 19/20 May 18
Venue – Divers Down Swanage Pier, Swanage Dorset
John Holmes and myself were booked in to the Swanage Auberge Bunk House run by Pete Sedgwick (firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.swanageauberge.co.uk). The accommodation was clean, comfortable and included supplies for breakfast in a separate kitchen area. Pete was very low profile and the accommodation did not have a great list of Don’ts. We shared a four-bunk cabin with all bedding and towels provided. There was a communal toilet and shower area with washer and dryer. An abundance of hot water was also very satisfying. Located just 5 minutes from the pier and central to all amenities it was an ideal base to dive from. A Swanage Dive Trip has been on and off the schedule over the past few years. This is due to cost as accomodation is difficult and costly, at least until we found Pete Sedwick. It would be nice to set a Swanage Dive Trip firmly in the SISAC Calendar for next year but this time have a few more members attend.
My day started at 6.30am with a short drive down to car. Cost for the day was £9.00 and once parked the car was secure. Trollies were available to ferry any heavy gear down to the boat landing. Air fills were available just before the boat landing and Divers Down run a very well stocked dive shop (lots of shiny things) in case you have forgotten and essential.
Our first dive was Peveril Ledge a drift dive. The dive was around 9.30am and the weather was patchy sunshine but not too cold. The skipper of the Skua (Dive Boat) wanted DSMB’s deployed for the dive as there was some sea mist. The conditions below were not bad and the current was lively. No finning was required apart from to keep you into the drift. There were lots of crabs and other crustaceans. The total dive time was 39 minutes and we were picked up by the dive boat some way off of where we started.
The second dive of the day after a comfortable surface interval were the Valentine Tanks . These tanks were in fact sea-going vessels in their own right. Before their demise, they were taking part in Exercise Smash around Poole Bay in preparation for the forthcoming D-Day landings of 6 June 1944. The idea behind the top-secret design was that a canvas frame fitted around the tank would, when raised, displace enough water to enable them to float. They were known as “DD” or “Duplex Drive” Valentine tanks, and a propeller was also mounted at the rear to move the vehicle forward and to within beach range, where the tank’s tracks would take over the job. There are two examples of these tanks, conveniently, roped together to help divers to locate both on a single dive. They lie upright only 70m apart.
A sneaky third dive was carried out off the pier steps under the pier. 30 minutes of probing in the sunlight. Good practice for entering and exiting on a rocky sea bed.
The pier is always a great dive for a Swanage Dive Trip. It is listed as one of the must do dives in the country. Although not very deep, even at high water, it has an abundance of sea life.
The day started again early as the car had to be parked to allow access to the pier. This was followed by a walk back and a light breakfast.
First dive was scheduled for 11.00am so a leisurely kit up at the car. The dive boat for the second day was Spike. Much like Skua it was a catamaran. The dive site was Fleur De Lys . The Fleur de Lys was built in Brittany in 1969. On Sunday 16th April 2000, four people were on board the Fleur de Lys on their way back to Brixham from a fishing trip around Alderney. They had been having problems with the hot water system as steam was coming from the taps rather than water. At 15.12 there was an explosion as a result of pressure build up that ruptured the hot water storage cylinder. The damage to the hull from the explosion caused the boat to begin sinking 18 miles southwest of Portland Bill in Dorset. The on-board liferaft failed to inflate and the crew found themselves rapidly submerged in water. A Mayday was sent out that was responded to by several vessels as well as a coastguard helicopter, which recovered all four crew 16 minutes later suffering only from cold and minor injuries. Unsuccessful attempts were made to raise the Fleur de Lys whilst she was being towed on passage to Poole, and so she was abandoned in Swanage Bay. That was the history of the tragic vessel. The fact of the matter was John and I did a swim around and only saw a small amount of the wreck. We did however see a nice dog fish and a number of large crabs. John also took part in some ‘skills’ at 14m which were signed off his Sports Diver. Dive two of the day was on the Kyarra. The weather had changed a little and the sea state had increased. For the most part, the divers on this trip were seasoned as the depth was a maximum 30m. We planned to keep our depth to within 22m and swim just above the wreck from the bow aft. This we did and manged to make the top of one boiler before coming up on a DSMB. Although broken up it was still interesting and would make a nice dive for Sports and above should we get sufficient interest in the future.
The Swanage Dive Trip was good and I think I speak for John when I say we enjoyed it. More people would have made it better but the venue was very pleasant, even taking into consideration the traffic and drive. SISAC organise trips throughout the dive season to suit all qualifications. We welcome non-members to join us. Why not contact us to learn to dive or simply join us on the next trip. Call 01480 708029 or complete the contact page.