By Piers Boileau-Goad

By Piers Boileau-Goad

16th August 2022

Having never dived with Channel Diver before, but heard plenty of good things about the set up I was excited to get stuck in. The parking scenario is a pain (dropping kit on a ramp, telephoning the marina office to say “please don’t ticket me” and then heading to a free multi story) but to be frank, the diving more than made up for it.
Receiving a jolly warm reception upon saying hello, as well as the ubiquitous cup of tea I set about stowing my kit aboard
We received a very thorough brief about the site when we were all aboard and about to set off, which included the usual safety brief (lie rafts here, life jackets here etc) as well as information about the dive site. 13:00-13:15 was the expected drop off time. As we approached the drop off point it was blisteringly hot, I was relieved to know that I was not the only one suffering with the heat (I believe it was 33 degrees) as there were two women ahead of me ‘in the queue’ on rebreathers with bailouts dangling from clips. Sweat was dripping off our faces, I even collected it in my mask, frankly, not enjoyable but still, the two women jumped in and I was next. Over to the gate and ‘beeeeep’ off I go. As the cool water embraced me, it felt good to be cooler. An open circuit chap jumped in from the adjacent gate and headed down the line faster than a whippet so was quickly lost in the gloom as I prepared myself for descent.
Wing deflated, loop volume dropping as I vent, and down I go. A flashing red light tells me that I need to bailout but im not worried. I have just taken a breath and my diluent is hypoxic for the first metre or two, as long as I do not hang around everything will be just fine. At 8m I stopped and did a bubble check. No sounds of bubbles escaping nor any sight in my mirror, my descent into the darkness soon continues, following the particulate and feeling a slight current I eventually see something, the bottom approaching out of the greeny ink. I do not have my torch on at this stage but I do see some lights in the distance (probably only about 8-10m away but it seemed like a distance) so I switch on. There was enough ambient light to not need one on as the back scatter, even on low power, seemed to make it darker with my primary light turned on.

Seeing a broken and tangled steel all over the place I had to take a second to understand what I was seeing and how it should appear on a ship. The shot was well placed athwartships on the wreck, near the stern as I found out later, so I headed off in one direction  to see what I could find. Gaping black holes welcomed my torch light, only to be filled with fish milling about and rushing in all directions fearing the light piercing their hidden world.

I did some quick skills and drills at this stage, a bailout, hypoxic and hyperoxic drills while staying on the loop as I try to do skills on every dive but being ever mindful of time I headed forward, finding some huge mooring bits (the solid lumps of steel/iron that mooring lines are secured to when not on winches. On a pier they are called ‘Bollards’ but onboard they are ‘Bits’) Something made me stay around these bits for a while as they appeared rather large for the wreck size. Had I missed much of the wreck in the gloom? How big was this ship once upon a time? At this stage I saw a crab, or rather, his pincer. I thought it quite odd that there should be just an arm so I picked it up and saw the flesh protruding from the ‘body’ end and realised that this poor soul had either been in a bit of a fight or somethings meal. Upon swimming about one metre ahead I quickly saw the culprit, a monstrous crab, sitting proudly on a frame, looking at me, daring me to come and fight him. Needless to say, I enjoy being dry so did not want to risk a pierced suit or gloves.
Minute 40 was now upon me which was my decided time to start preparing for a departure from the bottom. I had mentally decided that I would leave at roughly minute 45 but I was better organised that I expected so with my bag up I decided to head up at minute 43 instead.
The first stop was at 10m for one minute and with this cleared I headed up to 6m which was where the bulk of my deco was. With my PO2 set for 1.3bar I was getting through deco nicely. Having ditched my spool and now using my very old ratchet reel I was steady at 6m, moving up and down by 10cm which was wonderful. 20 minutes of deco completed I was now at minute 70 and on now rather awkwardly at my maximum intended run time but I still wanted to do a short stop at 4.5m just as an extra layer of security. 2 minutes here and the I surfaced with the boat no less than 5m away. Having heard the boat on my deco stop I guessed he was nearby but I didn’t realise he was that close.
I missed the chance to hand up my SMB while on the grab line along the hull I kept it until getting to the lift. Handing it up, holding onto the lift I let the skipper know that I was ready and up we went. A quick shuffle over to my spot on the benches and I relaxed, revelling in the memory of that dive. It wasn’t necessarily fun, it was more, satisfying, satisfying in the knowledge that it all went well, and following the adage, plan the dive and dive the plan, it went according to plan.

Once divested I did my O’Dive doppler test and got a meagre 44, not bad but room for improvement. My left clavicle produced more bubbles as usual which hindered my result. At any rate, I was not bent nor even close to it as my unit is set to maximum conservancy. My Eon Steel however did not enjoy the dive and locked itself out after throwing a tantrum but this wasn’t a problem as Redbares have their own deco software in both handsets. I only carry my Suunto for my O’Dive profile.

  • Diver: Piers Boileau Goad
  • Boat: Channel Diving
  • Site: Unnamed wreck, locally known as the ‘Scallop Wreck’.
  • Run time: 73 minutes.
  • Dilluent used: 14/37, 54 Bar or 108 litres consumed.
  • O2 consumed: 59 Bar or 118 litres.