Picture of By Piers Boileau-Goad

By Piers Boileau-Goad

19th July 2023

Heading down with the family to Plymouth on the 14th, it was a very slow drive. What should have taken 4 hours took a grand total of 6:30. Not fun. What really put the icing on the cake was one hour to leave Exeter Service’s..we therefore arrived at our Airbnb a little later than desired so put little the one to bed before organising ourselves for the 15th which had been cancelled due to weather.

Bimbling around Turnchapel (the local area to InDeep) was nice except for the horizontal rain we saw whilst having Tea and Brownies at the Jenny Cliffe Cafe on the cliff tops. Mercifully, it was vertical when we decided to make a dash for it. Spending the rest of the day in Plymouth itself doing some basic shopping however was better, somehow the sun managed to appear and heat everything up. Where was the rain now?!

That evening I prepped my kit for an expected day on SS Almond Branch, in 55m. Sadly, on arrival at InDeep for 0600 on the 16th, we found out that it was cancelled due to the swell, that said, for many of us it was unfortunate, but two of our group managed to grab spaces on the boat that was going out, and they had a cracking day on an unknown wreck in about 70m.

Back to our group though, the cancellation was unfortunate, but we made the best of it as I took the family to the National Marine Aquarium which turned into a fantastic day out. They have sharks, turtles, rays, lots of other fish (blues, greens, yellows) and a few long stringy things. I’m pretty sure that Nemo and his tribe were there as well. My little one was very excited by the Jellyfish!

17th July - SS East Point

Anyway, with all of our kit ready to rock and roll we rocked up on the 17th and targeted the SS East Point which sank in March of 1917 due to a torpedo from U-48. She did not go down without a fight ‘accidentally’ ramming the U Boat’s conning tower and killing two crew in the process. Eventually East Point sank 9 miles Southeast of the Eddystone Lighthouse without loss of life. My buddy and I were to be the second pair into the water, he had the Lazy shot, and I had a small loop called the ‘Prossic’ line which is used to connect the lazy shot to the main shot line. This was all to be connected at 40m.

In spite being a Seaman, I am not, but probably should be, ashamed that I was sick as a dog after arriv1al to the wrecksite. Normally I don’t get seasick but this time I was. ‘Seeker’ is only 11m long, my ship is 240m long, with even our tenders being 12m long! Oh well…now I shall take ‘drugs’ (as one person called Seasick pills) every time. In my defence it was a 90 minute trip through interesting waters. I reckon the swell was about 2m with an occasional 2.5m thrown in.

So with my tea now floating in the sea we kitted up and prepared to jump in. The two Belgians (both of whom are clearly top notch divers) jumped in to connect the shot to the wreck. Five minutes later and the pellet is on the surface, my buddy and I jumped in, gave an ‘OK’ to the boat and descended down to 40m for the line. My buddy was having a few difficulties with clearing his ears but soon sorted them and came down a few seconds after me. I tied on the line and moved out of the way while he connected the lazy.

Heading down the line, we saw two strobe lights flashing away from the first two divers, connected ours to increase the collection, and left the shot line for the top of the wreck at 60m. There was a lot of particulate on the wreck so unfortunately my light kept on bouncing back a little, however my buddy was a moving solar system. He had something that felt like a few million lumens so was easy to spot around the wreck as a ball of light. While we were heading away from the shot line we saw an ENORMOUS conger eel. When I saw enormous, we both reckon that the diameter of the body alone was a good 12 to 14 inches so the length was pretty huge too, first i saw the body, then a few fin kicks along, i started seeing the head. Truly huge. The wreck is obviously decaying but it was good to see transverse frames all over the place, capstans and even a few bollards, not to mention loads of fish life too. Soon however, our 25 minutes of bottom time was almost up and both of us had leaking loops with plenty of gurgling (I had bitten through my mouthpiece as a result of being a little stressed before jumping in) so we hit the shot line and started our ascent, removing our strobes and name tags from the base of the lazy shot (no more name tags means all divers are ascending, but name tags remaining means that they are still on the wreck so don’t release the lazy just yet!).

Our first deco stop was at 33m where we did one minute, followed by intervals of 3m up to 6m where the majority of our deco was to be done. At the one hour mark we arrived at 6m, so I increased my set point to 1.5 giving me a mix of 93% Oxygen, speeding my offgasing up immensely. The weather was a little lumpy so we did do a bit of up and down on the shot line but generally, the shallower stops, where deco was really underway, was good.

We surfaced at minute 94 after a very pleasurable dive to see a fascinating wreck which deserves more time. That said, with the swell still there we were quite glad to get out of the water, de kit and have a brew.

SS East Point Engine
SS East Point Prop
  • Max Depth: 63m
  • Bottom Time: 26 minutes
  • Dive Time: 94 minutes
  • Gas used: 8/62
  • Gas Consumed:
  •       O2: 78 bar / 156 litres
  •       Diluent: 58 bar / 116 litres
  • Visibility: 10m on the wreck.
  • Boat: Seeker

You Tube webinar by BSAC's Dominic Robinson

18th July - SS Silver Laurel

18th July and we were diving the SS Silver Laurel so all met at 05:45 for a 06:20 departure from InDeep HQ. With everyone onboard and ready to go, we slipped the berth and made our way out into a much calmer swell than it had been the day before. Silver Laurel lies west of the Eddystone lighthouse in roughly 70m. Silver Laurel was sunk by U 486 on the 18th December 1944 with a cargo of Coffee, Cocoa Beans, Palm Oil and Timber (teak trees) to name a few.

At 08:57 my buddy and I splashed in (the Belgians had jumped in to tie in the shot line to the wreck as they had done the day before) to a beautiful blue water. With ‘Ok’s’ to the boat we headed down. I was a little worried about weighting as I had removed some weight as i was a tad too heavy the previous day, but i had not needed to worry. Down we went, into the blue, eventually hitting a green bank at around 25m ish which lasted down to about 55m or so, which left the wreck a little dark. However, before we had even got to the wreck itself i had forgotten to place the prossic loop on the line at 40m where the lazy would have connected to it. Stupidly, I only realised this at 55m when i checked my mirror and did not see my buddy, so i had to go back up to 40m, tie in the line, apologise and we both headed back down.

Due to the green stuff between roughly 35m and 50m or so, the wreck was a little dark but there was plenty to see. Dark it may have been, but visibility was a lovely 10m ish. There was so much to see, from enormous tree trunks or Teak that would fetch a fortune should they ever see the light of day, be dried out and then sold, to the gun at the stern that one buddy pair saw. We were dropped in on the bow so wandered around looking at what we could see. There were some congers but nothing as large as the ones from the previous day. They seem to have burrowed out the ends of the teak trees and made their homes inside the trunks which is pretty cool. The attached short video shows the sheer scale on these things. With the trees and metal not going anywhere and our bottom time approaching its limit, we started making our way back to the shot line. The strobes on the line indicating the direction and visible from a good distance. There is something comforting see those strobes in the distance, probably it is a sign that you can see the way home.  

With our time up, we recovered our strobes, headed up to the bottom of the lazy shot, picked up our name tags and headed up the lazy.  In spite of the weather upstairs being a little better than yesterday, we still bounced around a little bit as you can see from the graph below. With our arrival at 6m at 1 hour and 3 minutes we started the biggest chunk of deco. Instead of increasing my PPO2 at 6m, I increased it to 1.4 at 40m and then a further increase at 6m.  At 40m I was therefore breathing 28% O2 whilst on the ascent it had slowly increased to 94% as my unit kept the selected set point pumping out O2 with no user interaction required. Always nice to have a portable gas blender on your back!

As on the previous day, as people reached the 12 and 9m stops, they started to bag off, once again, bags started coming past my buddy and I so my buddy decided to back off the line with his own bag so we became visually distanced from each other. As this happened and we seem to dive roughly similar profiles, I knew that we would surface at the same sort of time, so I did a little extra deco at 3m and then a slow ascent from this to the surface. Looking around for the boat I made the Ok signal and started moving out of the glut of bags i found myself amongst when my buddy appeared like a wraith a few metres away. 

With the boat moving towards us we were both looking forward to the awaiting tea! What a cracking dive. I will be adding this to my list of sites to revisit. 

  • Max Depth: 68m
  • Bottom Time: 26 minutes
  • Dive Time: 101 minutes
  • Gas used: 12/51
  • Gas Consumed:
  •       O2: 93 bar / 186 litres
  •       Diluent: 79 bar / 158 litres
  • Visibility: 10m on the wreck.
  • Boat: Seeker