Dive Log #336: A New Dive Site For Swanage Boat Charters

Diver Recovery Viper

Again this morning we were blessed with a torrential downpour as parking opened at 07.00am but just an hour later we were basking in early morning sunshine!

SS Fenna

This morning we visited the SV Fenna, a Dutch Sailing Schooner of 172 tons built in Holland.

On the 11th March 1881 she was on route from Amsterdam to Messina in Sicily carrying a cargo of railway lines, glass sheets and barrel-shaped concreted objects. She became leaky and foundered in heavy weather about 2 miles north west of the Needles on the Isle of Wight.

Visibility for us was a very shit 1 metre due to plankton bloom. Of our party of three, we lost one diver and we remaining two had to end the dive prematurely. No photos. Will definitely go at a better visibility as there is some great online media about this wreck. That said, here’s a YouTube from one of the divers who completed the dive:

The Aeolian Sky Aborted

Our target for the afternoon was to be the MV Aeolian Sky, a Greek cargo vessel that collided with the German Coaster ‘Anna Knueppel’ in fog off the Channel Islands in November 1979. She sank while being towed by tug to Portland Harbour carrying 84 hazardous substances including pesticides, herbicides, disinfectants and general lab chemicals, subsequently washing ashore on the Dorset coastline. The crew had earlier been safely evacuated but all cargo bound for Mombasa and Dar es Salaam was lost at sea. Kenyan imports had included Ford motor vehicles and a reported 600,000 Seychelles Rupees packaged in wooden cases, which today remain missing!

Anyhow, with warnings that poor visibility could be dangerous for divers getting lost in any of the vast cargo holds, the consensus was to pick another site. Sitting between 18 metres and 30 metres and 148 metres long, it was felt that if the visibility was like that encountered on the Fenna, it was too much of a risk.

The Pin Wreck

With a limited selection of sites available based on low water slack and depth, the site of choice was an unidentified and unnamed wreck, locally known as ‘The Pin Wreck‘ supposedly dating back to 1880. There is very little known of this wreck other than a number of bronze pins and rivets have been found, including brass military tunic buttons and a divers boot!

An undived mark for Swanage Boat Charters on their plotter “because nobody goes there” made this a fun expedition for the skipper and us. He had to find the wreck first from two vague plots on his GPS and there was no guarantee what would be there. However, the challenge for the skipper finding the wreck and the divers being able to explore a wreck that is dived infrequently was an excitement to all.

After traversing the two GPS marks, we were rewarded with four new fixed plots on something sitting three metres proud of the seabed.

Winch Gear
Winch Gear

The shot was dropped precisely on the wreck and there was excellent visibility of around six metres. The ship’s anchors, winches together with timber and metalwork frame are easily visible on a sandy seabed. We estimated a thin 5 metre width and 30 metre length ‘barge’ type vessel facing roughly a north/south direction and against the tide, bow facing north.

The dive plan was a simple orientation of the vessel for video and photo and to find some ‘pins’ to confirm the ‘pin wreck’ name.

We were limited on NDL and would like to go back for sure. The next time however will be a richer nitrox mix. Run time 29 minutes, maximum depth 28 metres, visibility 6 metres and water temperature 13degC.

The skipper wants my video footage to review as they may hope to add it to their regular dive sites.