Busy day on Calypso - part two

The second session before lifting Calypso out for the winter was always going to be on a ‘proper’ wreck that you can visualise and is rarely dived, due to boat volume there was no way that I would dive one of my secret squirrel sites so it was up past the Goldstone towards Holy Island to dive on another of my favourites, PS Pegasus, or to give her a Sunday name Paddle Steamer Pegasus!

The visibility up here away from the Islands and a long way from any silt covered kelp was very good, 10m maybe 12m, which was great as the sounder function on my electronics was playing up so I shotted the wreck using chart references only and got within 15m, I say 15m as it was ‘just’ out of sight but once I headed that direction it loomed into vision, so a simple case of dragging over the shot, jamming it into the wreck and getting on with my dive.

Not dropping directly onto the wreck meant a swim about, initially on the reef system to the North of the wreck, it was interesting that despite being ‘quite tidal’ there were only odd dead-mans fingers and another odd looking seaweed about, this would be due to sea-urchins effectively grazing the site down to the stone, it is only around fifteen meters around this area so you would expect to see some weed rather than simply solid, black rock.

I must admit that I haven’t dived this wreck since before covid but it is way out of the way for the charter boats and RIB divers mostly don’t have ‘the numbers’ or simply save fuel by heading to the Islands so I wasn’t expecting any big changes due to ‘pillaging’ but what a positive surprise and I wish that I had taken my camera! This wreck lies in a gully between two ridges of stone and is usually a sea of sand that varies in height to the extent that some parts of the wreck, such as the novel flat boilers are ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, today it was now you see me with more of the wreck visible than I have ever previously seen.

For starters the remains of the paddle wheel on the shore side of the wreck are all visible, usually I have just seen odd bits of wrought iron poking through the sand but today the entire wheel was visible on the hard black rock, I half hoped that the brass nameplate would be there but no sign of it, no one has ever claimed to have recovered either of the nameplates so either they are still in the wet or else they are sitting in some old boys shed who dived her many, many moons ago.

As you went from the boilers which were now about a foot proud of sand, past the engine and over the paddle shaft you could see the lead scupper pipes, all a couple of inches larger diameter than standard gutter down-pipe, ending in lead boxes about eighteen inches square made with perforated plate, but the engine ahhhh.

Despite looking at the engine the length of four inch diameter solid brass rod sticking out of the side still disappears into the abyss, I really am at a loss as to what it is, well what they are as there are two, diagonally opposite over the single cylinder, as they appear solid I guess some sort of lever but having recovered and polished a few lovely brass valve handles they seem rather ‘agricultural’ for what was actually a very elegant engine set up on this vessel.

Prior to ‘finding’ the wreck I mentioned swimming over a large area of the bare black rock, it was maybe not surprising that over this rock there were several bronze keel pins, all twisted into pretzels, it is when you look at the fixings that held the wooden hull planks onto the steel keel and frame that you realise just what agonies a ship goes through when it founders and sinks. The ship was carrying 56 people of which 50 died, I have attached a more detailed version of the loss of the vessel in the random jottings area of this site.


Whichever way you look at the loss you can see by the state of the hull fixings the pressures exerted on the foundering vessel by subsequent tide and storm.

I am sure that a little research will flag up the co-ordinates of this wreck which doesn’t sit on Goldstone which is the common misconception, it is worth a dive for novelty value if nothing else as the shaft driving the paddle wheels sits on supports a yard above the seabed and the boilers are novel being a flat spiral type arrangement rather than the usual big ‘can’, with these features without the numbers it is almost impossible to scan and shot the wreck as it sits no higher than the adjacent ridges of rock, the highest point being part of the engine block which may be two yards proud of the bottom.

However whilst worth a dive it is a small site so half a dozen divers descending on it will mess up the visibility if they are prodding and poking about or if their buoyancy control isn’t great, but due to the tidal nature of the site I would say that if you can't keep yourself nicely weighted then you shouldn’t be diving the site!

Following on from a most excellent dive it was time to return to harbour to pull Calypso up out of the water for the winter, however when we got to the harbour the levels were still a tad low so we decided to head round the corner for a quick, cheeky dip at the Powderhouse and I must say that rolling off a boat is so much easier than rolling down a bloody wheel-barrow, especially when you end the short dive heavily weighted with lost anglers weights!

So a very productive and interesting days diving, but with Calypso out and winter a coming not sure that there will be many more salty dives at Northumberland this year, but I will of course keep people posted to the goings on.

Dive safe


Weight this dive – 24.0 kg

Weoght this year – 1240.1kg

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