Diary

A gap in the weather means get in quick

I had estimated the vis to be around the 1m mark after gawping into Knacker Hole, however a tide later and having walked the dogs things looked significantly better, soooooooo

However before you dust off your kit and complain of shrinking neoprene just hold your horses, the forecast is for 13 foot swells later this week so just keep that enthusiasm on ice, but the vis? Well on Sunday it was around the 3 or 4m mark with a slight milky tinge.

So, the good news is that once things calm down a bit ‘up top’ the water should rapidly clear into diveable if not fantastic conditions!

With things looking good I decided that I would ‘risk’ a dip from the north side of Beadnell Point, I haven’t been in this year and after the horrendous weather over the winter I was sure that things would have changed and boy how they have changed, entry and exit were quite easy as I was diving from near LWS on the flood so plenty of natural steps available to clamber out, even when encumbered with scrappage!

On the walk down to the dive there were a couple, or maybe three dolphins working slowly south, moving along with quite long pauses between surfacing and not much distance, they must have been actively hunting, probably salmon moving on the tide, its always nice to see them and I remember that the only time in UK waters where I have been visited by dolphins on a dive was at Beadnell Point!

I was going to start by saying that there was no fish-life but I would be wrong, the lumpsuckers are inshore with males sitting on nests, the one that I spotted today should be safe enough as he was in around six meters of water and the nest was within a hole made by bedrock and a substantial lump of wreckage! Its always nice to see these very brightly coloured fish and they will stay on or very close to their egg clusters so quite easy to get some good photographs, but of other fish…..no joy which is a bit odd as there are normally a few larger coalfish in the area.

 The wreckage has really been bashed about with some of the large sections of hull plating ‘gone’ from their old resting places and pushed, from what I can see, further out to sea along the same skeer, but somewhat reduced in size. This has exposed large sections of sea-bed that have not been seen since before the MV Yewglen ran aground and as you can imagine there was a fair few lost fishing weights that were exposed on the seabed which was a mixture of solid shale sea-floor, cobbles and the white ‘stuff’ that has been left behind from the wreck. I am not sure exactly what this is but it does breakdown quite easily over time. Maybe cargo or some quick setting compound used on early salvage attempts, no idea but when you see it you simply know that it’s not natural. It’s interesting that among all of the ‘junk’ exposed when large sections of the wreckage are moved are bits and pieces from much earlier accidents and whilst I had no luck finding a brass ‘maltese dolphin’ today there were some interesting bits of ironwork that I imagine had very little to do with the later, larger wreckage and of course with a large movement of the bottom again there were occasional .303 bullets that were picked up, I am guessing the bullets were from the world wars when there was a gun emplacement on the point.

Grubbing about on a badly smashed up bottom isn’t the best way to find any lobsters, simply because all of their hidey-holes have gone and I spent minimal time moving over ground that was solid reef, so as such I didn’t spot any lobsters, not that I am saying there are none about, certainly the potting boats are very active off-shore with strings of pots in water from half a mile out. The food is marching back in shore, we all just have to patient! That said if you fancy a French bouillabaisse there were a few velvet swimming crabs about all you need to do is catch the evil blighters, boil ‘em up and then liquidise them, shell and all then strain through a muslin cloth, just remember that when you order at a swanky French restaurant!

Away, slightly from the wreckage, the kelp has really been thinned out on the reef tops which is odd as on the south side you get areas devoid of kelp after a storm where the waves action has simply ripped up swathes of the weed, whereas here it was if the winter storms have only ripped out ‘some’ plants. Please bear in mind where I say ‘some’ plants I mean maybe 30% to 50% in some areas so quite a drastic thinning out!

However even after such a winter hammering there are signs that nudibranchs are coming out and starting to feed, there were loads of the tiny translucent and yellow polycera nudibranchs out and about, I suppose they or the eggs overwinter in the kelp root-ball and where the kelp survives then out they come. I didn’t spot any other species but I am sure that there will be many more starting to come out in the next weeks as things warm up, and ooooh it was cold today, I pulled the dive due to cold fingers rather than any lack of scrappage!

As an aside I am spending increasing hours beachcombing over the winter period and have found another good spot where there are loads of coins, writing this I can see the 27 coins I found yesterday, with vintages from ‘now’ to pre-WW2, all very interesting although low value apart from maybe the silver coins for scrap value.

Dive safe

RichW

Weight this dive – 16.0 kg

Weight this year – 159.6 kg

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