Dive Log #344: SS Kyarra Centennial Dive

It was an early rise for pier parking. Hearing one of the other divers parked in front of me in the queue, he has been here since 05.30am for a 07.00am opening. Seems crazy, but with the engineering works on the pier with limited parking, perhaps not a bad call.

Adverse Weather

The weather this morning could not have been less British. What was clear blue skies and mill pond blue water last nigh produced a dank, overcast and rainy morning. But there is good and bad news. Weather forecasts suggested that this morning’s passing showers would clear with sunny intervals appearing later this morning and onward into the afternoon. The bad news however was that forecasted F5 winds were expected this afternoon and possible thunderstorms at time of ropes off. All fingers were crossed that this easterly pocket of adverse weather will hold off another hour or two.

Weather Conditions Improved

Today’s favourite App was XC Weather. With just two hours to Ropes Off at 14.45pm, a number of weather forecasts were still suggesting thunderstorms and rain. Not swaying from XC, the weather front seemed delayed and we were awarded with a blistering and scorching 25degC air temperature and many rummaging for their sun hats prior to loading.

All Aboard

Our chariot today was Viper, a type boat from Swanage Boat Charters servicing up to 12 divers. All refitted for the 2012 season, she has twin 300hp engines, a hydraulic rear diver platform lift, a large kiiting up area, toilet and not forgetting hot drink making facilities.

Dive Log

The Kyarra is around 15 minutes from Swanage, so just enough time to kit up in a relaxed fashion. As we arrived, we had a 5 minute wait until slack.

We were diving at a slack low water. The skipper had already briefed that more often than not, low water slack typically provides less visibility and with the morning divers experiencing 4 to 6 metres, the skipper was right. Descending the shot, there was an immediate snotty 2 metres visibility and we arrived at the Kyarra at some 23 metres.

There were three divers in our group. A rebreather, nitrox twin 12’a and a single 15 on air. Our limitation would be NDL and air consumption of the 15 litre diver, though we were all happy with the dive plan.

As we arrived amidships and settled ourselves, it was signalled to descend to what we perceived was the seabed. However what manifested was a tangled mess of metalwork. With poor visibility, it was difficult to appreciate the scale of the wreck and her condition. The portholes are easily identified but all the brass has disappeared a long time ago.

We continued to traverse the collapsed steelwork until some 14 minutes into the dive, when a mild current started to run. We turned the dive to flow back towards the shot. We took some video footage which in confession is not worthy of publication but all in all, a pleasant and enjoyable dive. Perhaps a little disappointing on the visibility front, nonetheless a historic dive and celebratory tee shirt to boot.

In summary, a mere 2 to 3 metre visibility in green and dark ‘snotty’ water with temperature at 13degC. Maximum depth of 27 metres and run time 42 minutes.

Note To Self

Our planned decision to ascend to 15 metres before deploying the DSMB proved a successful choice. When back on board, two diver groups deployed from the 28 metre seabed and with the aforementioned turned current, extended their lines to the maximum 50 metres. One buddy pair lost their DSMB midwater, latterly understood to have snagged on the shot as they drifted with the current.