The problem with late starts, I found, is that all the muppets come out and climb in their cars…32mph in a 60 zone is NOT right and you should be shot!!! Especially where there is no one in front of you and the road is clear and dry. As you probably guessed we had a 10am ropes off from Brighton, so on a clear and crisp morning Channel Diver was ready to go as I rolled up with 15mins to spare.
We motored out to the site of the SS Clodmoor, the sea was flat calm and a closer to blue than green or brown, an excellent sign. The Clodmoor was a collier built in 1902, and sunk by a torpedo on the 3rd May 1917 5miles from Newhaven.
I buddied up with Jeremy and Roger and jumped in as a six with the infamous A-team, I can’t join as #1 I don’t have the right fins (more on this later) and #2 they won’t have me.
Jeremy and I descend the line, while Roger had a late change to make on the boat. I got about 7m before my right ear locked up. I managed to descend 3m in the next 3 minutes when Roger barrelled past me imitating a lead balloon. He looked fine from what I could see. When I arrived at the bottom of the shot, another 3minutes later my buddies were nowhere to be seen, although I was ok with this due to the time it took me to get down. The viz was about 4m, and I was happy to solo the dive initially (I know, I know but 24m in good viz I felt fine). I swam to my left following the low lying wreck.
The Clodmoor is inverted and the vast majority of the wreck is covered by sand. I headed to what I thought was the bow to find a large area of the wreck standing proud by 3m of the seabed, however it stands clear on one side due to the scour of the sea bed whilst the sand piles up the opposite side. Finning around the wreckage I saw in the distance a strange light shape against the dark background, as I tried to close on it, it seemed to get further away. However I finally gave a proper kick and realised it was Paul Carvall’s (one of the A-team) brilliant white fins… you can see them metres away, Scott has an almost identical pair, without the words left and right written on them.
Paul as usual was oblivious to my presence as I swam beside him, so I left him and the rest of the A-team to their dive. Reversing my course and finning back along the top of the wreck, the sand covered hull was broken by outlines of squares where weeds had found anchor points between the hull plates, brilliantly marking out the hull plates patterns. Further along, living on the weeds running along the edge of the hull I found a brilliantly pink and purple nudibranch about 3cm long. The wreckage came to a point with another raised twisted end, with a school of bib hiding amongst the wreckage and a small fishing net fallen off one end. The net looked quite new and inside was the body of what appeared to 5kg+ Cod, which had obviously died recently.
Swimming away, checking for netting and line, I swam back towards the shot. The current had picked up a little and was forming a low viz area behind the wreck where the current washed over the low smooth wreckage it took the sand off and left it in a vortex behind the wreck, it appeared like someone was kicking it up ahead, but no-one was there. I dropped of the wreck once or twice to check for scallops but none were found… the current side looked like it had be dredged recently.
Finally I found Roger and Jeremy, and regrouped, and I pointed out a large lobster hiding under a plate (where he remained). We found our way to the stern, which stand over 5m proud and still has its prop attached to the shaft and suspended 2m from the bed.
Jeremy and I were on 31% EAN and Roger was on a 24%, all agreed a 60minute max dive, and we left the bottom after 44 minutes. Needless to say at 6m Jeremy and I left Roger to his final 15minutes of decompression.
The sun was out and the sky was blue as we coasted to the ‘East Pier Reef’, otherwise known as Ship Rock, Sh… reef, C.B.A dive, Brighton Ledges, a few rocks in the mud of Brighton. We jumped together again, and true keystone cops style each had a blown up smb (no-one could be bothered to deflate them from the first dive). We lost each other within 2m of dropping below the surface.
The viz was churned up and 4m as most, as I let the current take me for this drift. I found the ‘drop off’ and followed it. Diving alone I saw fleeting glimpses of other divers, Roger looked out of the dark and off again. The ledges held numerous swimming crabs and small brown crabs. Wrasse of various types swam around coming surprisingly close. On both this dive and the Clodmoor I saw large clumps of long white finger like objects which turned out to be clusters of squid eggs. The only large crab I saw was sitting on the edge of a hole with a very large conger behind it, one of several congers I saw on the dive. A medium size Cuttlefish also was a bit perturbed by my presence, flashing white at me and raising its central arms when I came within 20cm of her, unlike the school of bib who played ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ with me. The ‘reef’ ran out after 40minutes and I ascended back to the boat.
We were Steve’s only charter on the day, it might have something to do with the England World cup game on TV later that day. Once again all returned safe and sound after another pleasant day of high adventure and silliness.