After the success of last year’s trip to Dieppe I booked another 3-dayer with Steve on Channel Diver for 2011. Unfortunately the weather didn’t play ball, but being hardy types we got on with it and went diving.
On Monday 11 July a group of Croydon’s finest (along with a few guests) turned up at Brighton marina and headed out on a flat-calm sea to dive the Dieppe coast. Originally we’d planned to dive from Eastbourne and look at some new marks on the way over, but due to a rather horrible forecast for the Tuesday and Wednesday we’d had to change our leave venue to Brighton. This weather also meant that we would have to come home on the Tuesday rather than Wednesday as planned. Everyone was a bit down about the change in plan, but there’s nothing we can do about the weather so that was that.
Our dive on the way over to France was to be the Yatagan, a French destroyer which sank in 1916 after a collision with the British steamer Teviot. Today the wreck lies in 35m on port side and is very smashed up. On descending I thought the viz through the water column was good, but once I got to about 20m it looked a bit iffy on the wreck below. It was only as I got closer that I realised that the viz was good, but the wreck was covered in an enormous shoal of pouting that made seeing anything a nightmare! On reaching the bottom of the shot I swam over the top of the engine and turned right towards the bows. Shell cases litter the wreck and there is a gun lying off to one side. This is a small wreck so I soon reached the smashed-in bows that disappear down into the shingle seabed and turned round to head to the stern. Every hole seemed to house either an enormous conga of a huge tasty-looking lobster, if only we were allowed to take them!!! Heading aft back past the triple expansion engine I spotted a couple of portholes with the glass intact, I also noticed some huge bass darting about amongst the massive shoal of pouting. At the stern the prop is buried and the wreck is very broken up, a bit like the bows. All too soon it was time to head to the surface. After an uneventful ascent we were all back on the boat having well-earned food and drinks whilst enjoying the sunny journey to Dieppe.
Tuesday morning arrives and a large proportion of the crew seem to be a little out of sorts…could it be something they ate? Perhaps…but more likely it’s the beer, cider, wine and calvados hangovers kicking in. The bad news for them is that it’s gonna be a rough old crossing back to Brighton (this turned out to be something of an understatement). Our dive site was an unknown steamship in 33m, Steve had only put divers on it once before so there was potential for a really interesting rummage about. After an hour punching into a sloppy sea with the Monday-night drunkards being sick everywhere we were on site. Predictably several of the drunkards binned the dive, in fact we ended up with only 5 out of 10 divers jumping in – an embarrassment. Now it’s not often I (Paul B) get the chance to take the moral high ground, but for a change I went home at a sensible time having only had a couple of pints…the same cannot be said for the rest of the crew who went clubbing till half one and got rat-arsed on calvados. I now know how you lot feel when you see me trudging down the pontoon at Plymouth looking like death warmed up – it’s very very funny. Anyway, the dive – this was a large steamship with engine and boilers in place that was covered in life – huge lobsters, conga and bass were all over it and the seabed was chokka with scallops. The wreck is upright and intact and hasn’t been salvaged much as there was a lot of copper pipe and brass fittings about the deck. No clues to identity, but a very good dive with some excellent penetration opportunities. Defo one to visit again.
On reaching the surface conditions were worsening and Steve had already made the decision to head back to Dieppe rather than punching on back to Brighton – this meant we had to rearrange out hotel at short notice but lucking thanks to Mike at TBreaks who handled our booking this wasn’t a problem. Tuesday night was far more sedate with some of the drunkards not even making it out of the hotel. Looking at the forecast it was still going to be a rough crossing back, but we were going no matter what….
Wednesday morning and the wind is blowing again. The only wreck we could really do was the same as Tuesday; this was fine though as it was a big wreck with plenty to see and the drunk half of the crew hadn’t done it anyway. I’ll not go into details but viz was the same 10m we’d had on the previous two days and everyone enjoyed the dive. We then strapped ourselves in for 4 hours of being bounced about till we got back to Brighton.
So that’s it, another France trip over with. We got away with this one weather-wise and were lucky to get diving at all. Special mentions in dispatches must go to Steve for his usual excellent skippering, Caroline for keeping us all in tea and Mike at TBreaks for sorting the never-ending changes in the hotel arrangements.
- The crew: Paul B, Paul C, Tone, Dave E, Chris V, Terry, Ady, Neil, Northern Chris and Northern John