Swanage is one of our favourite UK dive destinations. Here, Isabel recounts her experience of wreck-diving there this Spring.
Spring wreck diving in Swanage
by Isabel S
Boat: “Spike” Divers Down
First dive: Aeolian Sky, max depth 33m. 10000 ton Greek freighter sunk in 1979 after a collision with another vessel. Lies SE of Swanage, 5 miles off St Aldhelm’s Head on her port side.
The weather was lovely – sunny and warm with calm seas – so the journey to the Aeolian Skye was relaxing and pleasant. However things up top were considerably better than below; the low viz meant caution on a wreck famous for its gaping holes and sharp edges. Having said that, the 2 -3 metre viz is probably the best I have ever encountered on this dive site, allowing some interesting moments exploring the very chunky superstructure without the constant fear of being gobbled up by its dark voids and cavities. Another plus was the reasonable tide window and the chance to sample some depth before the deeper dives scheduled later this year. I was disappointed by the lack of marine life other than divers; it is obviously not a favoured niche in the South Dorset ecosystem.
Lunch back in Swanage was a happy, protracted affair as we waited for the second slack. We slowly roasted in the gorgeous sunshine and some of us even had to take refuge in the shade – a first this year unless you went to El Gouna.
Second dive: Kyarra, max depth 30m. Twin master schooner rigged steamer. Sank in 1918 by a U-boat. Lies on her port side, 4 nm due south of Swanage. Carrying a mixed cargo which included perfume, champagne, stout, red wine, and vinegar bottles. Sealing wax, medical supplies, dentists porcelain teeth, collar studs, gold, silver and brass watches, pipes, fountain pens, lead printing blocks, printing paper, copper pipe, dinner sets, comic books, silk, fabric, brass picture frames and hockey sticks.
What a contrast! The viz was 5m plus and the sealife was abundant – pouting, cod, tompot blennies and congers. I love diving this wreck in the spring because the sands shift with the winter swells revealing all sorts of goodies. This time we saw an intact perfume bottle, lots of crockery, and silk wafting in the current. A lovely rummage in good viz was a brilliant end to a great day out. Well worth the horrific start time to get to the pier by 0630.