A series of dives at Seahouses Powder House

Over the last few days I have been concentrating on diving the reef on the South Side of the Powder House at Seahouses

First, why the South Side? Well its obvious when you see the layout, basically all boats heading to Seahouses (North Sunderland) harbour from the south pass rather close to the Easterly edge of the reef and all boats come rather close to the Northern edge of the reef and rather than risk injury or arguments with the harbour master its easiest to keep out of the way!

Secondly, viz, well what can I say, as this was a series of dips it can be difficult......

However in general, early/mid June has been marvellous, 8m or thereabouts making up for the spring cruddy vis!

A few words about the dive before I start, or rather getting to the site! Its a bloody long walk and I used to dive this area from a boat such is the drag down to the entry/exit point from where you park, however if you have a wheelbarrow........... Yes so you may look a bit of a charlie throwing your heavy kit on a barrow and setting off half clad in a dry-suit, but a goodly few years ago some poor beggar had a heart attack trying to walk down fully loaded with his gear.

Carrying on in the same vein this is a high water dive, nothing tidal just the basic getting in and out. Say a couple of hours either side you can get in on nice safe rocky steps but any lower and you have to fight over weed covered rock and then fight through twenty yards of kelp, not a very nice start or end to a dive, well certainly I didn't enjoy doing it.

This site is predominantly sandstone so you do have some rather good rock formations and for all of you budding cave divers there is a long cave which runs from the second 'gully' to the northern edge of the reef, so a good fifty yards, a large portion dries out at low water and there are a few 'blow holes' where the cave has broken through to the top of the reef, these are large enough to climb in and out from. I haven't been in for many years so I can't say if there are blockages caused by debris or rocks, so should there be any budding cave divers out there please take all precautions and don't go in unless you know what you are doing! The good news is that should you die in there we can all wait for LWS to drag out your body.

When you have passed over the rocky section which comprises of small drops and large flat areas with no kelp growing on them but lots of cracks and fissures that usually contain some life then you have one final drop to a sandy, fist sized cable bottom. This bottom runs south and is broken by the occasional large nob of harder bedrock which stands a few feet proud and is covered in kelp and life, an apparent oasis in a sandy desert! On the larger drop offs, by which I mean anything from three to six feet if you are lucky there will be a crack that is inhabited by blue fiends, now on the subject of lobsters if you decide to take tea please be subtle and don't wave it about, shove it in a bag and don't make a fuss when you get out with the holiday makers who will come to see you. There will be 'eyes' watching from the harbour and as we all know any lobster taken from the sea has been 'stolen' from every fisherman who sees you take it!

The site normally has lots of life and at last the fish are turning up in reasonable quantities so you can now see coalfish plus pollack mooching about looking for something to mug, it is a popular angling spot, as you can tell by the amount of weights that I picked up, so there must be plenty of kelp cod about however I can't remember seeing any, these fish tend to keep out of the way and most often you will see them either disappearing under a rock or skulking at the bottom of a deep crack. The micro-species of fish are also very active in the water from the intertidal shallows right down, although the smaller gobies tend to be replaced by scorpionfish as you get deeper and heading out onto the sand you will spot various species of flatfish. Oh and a word to the wise when you are looking into the cracks always look on the ceiling as the topknot, a flatfish species' has the habit of resting on the ceiling, they are not huge but are often nicely coloured!

Being so close to the harbour you do find the detritus of years when you are diving with random lumps of steel being quite common, along with what appears to be dumped lobster pots, certainly they are not wedged between rocks and 'lost' rather they are lying on clean ground where the only snags are kelp fronds. In among this ferrous-rubbish you will find the occasional 'nice thing' from one of the few wooden fishing boats lost on this reef, when the sand is moved I have picked up quite a few keel pins and in addition there is always the chance of a bit of plane as back in WWII a Bristol Beaufighter was lost in the bowl between this site and the reef to the south. I think that most (all) of the milk bottle size spark plugs have long gone but in this series of dips I picked up a few bits of aluminium and a slack handful of bullet heads, I am not sure if any 'complete bullets' are still there, I have three part cartridges, thats to say from the bottom going up towards the 'projectile part' but can't remember ever finding or hear of anyone finding any complete ordinance.

And finally a legend...... well a tall story anyway. I have been told that the site also has a cannon hidden away, probably a piece 'spirited away' from Gun Rock in years of old. Despite looking during every dive I cannot say that I have ever seen said cannon, I have however seen a part rusted oxy-acetylene cylinder where the 'valve end' has rusted away, or failed catastrophically and maybe that is where the legend came from, however should you take down your wheelbarrow and find said cannon please let me know!

Dive safe


Weight these sessions -120.3 kg

Weight this year - 288.3 kg

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