We were awoken at 4am to the rain hammering down on the roof. I looked out and Yes it was really raining that hard! The alarm wasn’t due to go off for another 30 mins so I grabbed a few more moments sleep – why do UK diving trips always start with a very early morning alarm call?
Everything had been packed and readied the night before so we got out of the door by 5am and it was still raining really really hard. The A27 resembled a swimming pool and there were a few hairy aquaplaning moments on the way towards Arundel.
Finally as we rounded Chichester the skies brightened and the rain cleared. Phew! Fingers crossed Swanage will be bathed in sunshine when we get there.
We pulled on to the pier at 7.30am and were directed to our parking space for the day. As we parked some of the OV crew wandered past on their way to grab some breakfast. Parked just across from us was a Worthing Taxi so probably another OV diver we thought. The sun was out and it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. We didn’t need to be on the boat until 10.30 but you have to be early to get a parking space on the pier so the early morning start was well worth the convenience of not lugging kit for miles.
We had a slap up full English breakfast at the local café which was delicious and meant I could probably drop a couple of kilos for the first dive! Divers refuelled and ready we headed back to the pier to prepare the kit and wander it down to the boat jetty.
At 10.30 our boat Viper pulled alongside and the skipper Bryan invited us to bring our kit on-board. Our trip was with Swanage Boat Charters and it was a lovely spacious boat with a lift!
Our first dive was to be The Borgny located 9 miles east of Swanage (south of the Needles). The ship was sunk by a German submarine while carrying 1500 tons of coal from Newport to Rouen. The Borgny sank in 10 minutes with no loss of life. She was 1,149 gross tons, built in 1909 with a beam of 36ft. Her stern is completely upside down with the rudder and propeller easily recognisable. The wreck still rises up 5metres in parts. The wreck is twisted and broken in a sandy gravel sea bed.
The sun was high and the temperature was hotting up to a massive 29 degrees on the boat deck! Phew! All divers were keen to get in to the water to cool off and buckets of cold water were being administered while we waited. Finally it was time to get in. The first buddy pair jumped and were tasked with checking the shot was properly attached and sending up a float to signal it was all ok. It felt like forever waiting for the float to reappear but finally there it was. There was still a bit of a current running so the swim to the buoy was hard but we were ready for our decent. Ok. Down we went pulling ourselves down the line. Once you hit 10 metres someone turned the lights out and it was very dark and murky. There was quite a bit of algae in the water reducing the visibility.
Finally at about 28 metres we found/bumped into the wreck. Right at the end of the shot was a huge spider crab. We tried to adjust our eyes to the wreck and slowly moved away from the line. We found the props and tried to follow the line of the ship until we got to exposed ribs and could see the torch lights of divers below us. After 25 minutes of going round in circles in the dark we decided it was time to ascend…. We only had another 8 mins left on the computer and it was difficult to see anything so the signal was given and we slowly ascended and deployed our SMB. Once on the surface we were surrounded by other SMBs so everyone had seemed to make the same choice as us.
Getting back on the boat was quick and efficient and once de-kitted we were provided with tea, coffees and hot chocolates….. perfect.
The clouds had started to draw in and we had some spots of rain on the return voyage to Swanage. We docked at about 14.00 and discussed what to do next. The next dive from the boat would be leaving at 17.15 for the Kyarra which sat at 30 metres which was also torpedoed in May 1918.
There was much discussion about what to do next and we opted to not go on the second boat dive but to enjoy a leisurely lunch and an extended dive under the pier. Had the vis been better the Kyarra would have been excellent but the day had already been very long so a nice easy bimble and a reasonable departure time won the day.
Decision made we headed off for some fish and chips while the cylinders were refilled. Bryan said we could jump from the boat for our pier dive which made life easier as the tide was going out and we would have had to have walked a fair way to meet the water.
15.40 and we were back in the water working our way around the pier legs which were covered in the most beautifully coloured algae, seaweed and anemones. There was plenty of life and the sunlight was streaming through the water. We achieved a max depth of 2.8 metres and paddled around for a good 45 minutes having a very enjoyable dive with plenty to see.
Bryan lowered the lift to get us back on board and the remainder of the OV crew were readying themselves to depart for the Kyarra. We unloaded our kit and waved them fair well.
Quickly we loaded the car and were on our way by 18.00.
What an enjoyable day. We will definitely be back to dive the pier again and hopefully the Kyarra with Bryan!