Diving the J6 … A day of days !!

Credit to Brian Goddard for the use of his amazing video from the dive……. because mine was shit 😀
 

Another cracking video from the dive by Pete Baker

The J-class submarines were seven submarines developed by the British Navy prior to WW1.  The objective for these submarines was to be able to keep up with the Navy’s fleet of ships. However, though more powerful than previous submarines, the J-class subs were still unable to keep up.   On 15 October 1918 J6 was on patrol on the surface outside her base, Blythe, off the Northumberland coast when she was spotted by the Q-ship Cymric. The captain of the Cymric Lieutenant F Peterson RNR mistakes the identity lettering on the conning tower of J6 for U6. Assuming U6 to indicate a German U-boat, Peterson raised the White ensign and opens fire on J6. J6 tried to signal, but the signalman is killed. J6 flees into a fog bank, but Cymric locates J6 again. After a number of direct hits, J6 sinks. It is only after the survivors are seen in the water that Peterson and the crew of Cymric realise their mistake and recover the survivors. Of the 45 crew of J6 15 were killed; a subsequent court of enquiry found that no action should be taken against Peterson.     An order under the Official Secrets Act prohibited mention of this incident until 1969…  credit to IWM for info.

HMS J6

Neil and I headed off early Saturday morning to MarineQuestHQ in Eyemouth.  A 4.30 am start had been called for as the mission to sail over 50 miles out into the North Sea to the North East Bank in the hope to catch the slack and dive the wreck of the  J6 submarine demanded it.

My immediate mission though was to recover from Neil’s snoring, he had been sleeping in the room below me, it was like the Canadian lumberjack squad were practising down there, so with less than 10 minutes sleep under my belt we headed off to Eyemouth, moon still in the sky  😀 😀

Everest … just like Tescos

We were both very excited, and for sure its a rare occurrence to get a chance to dive a wreck like the J6.  Neil’s own  words to me as we sat there were   “you know Mark, fewer people will have seen this submarine than have scaled EverestN.Farmer 2019  😀    It’s a fact but according to the stories of late,  fewer people have been up the Eiffel tower  ….. 😀

 

The J6 sits in 69m of water and is remote for a small dive vessel like the Jacob George but the forecast was mint and we were going for it !  Neil and I were treating it very seriously and were unsure on a plan. However the boat was full of all the usual faces, a friendly group of battle hardened North Sea divers. We were in very good hands , ideal in fact for any advice we would need.  Several hours sailing later and we were in position above the wreck, the plan was to drop the shot near the conning tower and if Iain missed then Brian Goddard, Legend of the North Sea 😀 would position a line from the shot to guide us on the wreck so as not to waste any bottom time.  Iain, “shot line sniper” dropped the shot and we waited for slack. Soon the top boys were dropping off the back and heading down to the wreck to sort it all out.

my best side … 😀

A short while later it was time Neil and I were heading down .. Iain put the boat into position and off the back we went … dropping first to the easy shot, leaving our markers before heading down to the wreck. We arrived to find the shot bang centre of the wreckage ! the sniper nailed it again .  The conditions were good and visibility amazing !!

The submarine was big !  way bigger than the U12 and the U74.  I cannot compare it to the K-boats as even though I had dived them last year .. the viz was so bad that weekend that I had touched them then ran scared back up the shot 😀

The c\Conning tower . covered in old net , beware !!

Conning tower

But today was different !!   Neil and I cruised up the big sub in 15m+ visibility taking in the conning tower, port holes , periscope and all in scary fish netted glory … far too soon it was back to the shot to head up and  start the long decompression plan.

Hanging around the trapeze we  looked on as a young Sam Broom nailed his MOD.   He had been with Marinequest all week training with Steve Sanders, top instructor and the Vegan king of the North Sea 😀   Sam has been hitting all the bucket list dives in training !! Its all waiting for this young lad 🙂 A name to watch out for  !

Diver soup 😀

With divers on long deco it gets busy around the trapeze but for fear of a whacking great 11 litre batting you one it certainly keeps you from nodding off 😀

Neil hanging out on the trapeze

A spot of 6m meditation and soon Neil and I were free from any deco obligations and we headed to the surface to be picked up by the North Seas finest , sorry Iain but legend of the North Sea is already taken and I am seriously running out of names here  😀 😀

THE Skipper !

All in all another day to add to the list of BEST DAYS EVER !!!!!     thanks to all involved . BLOODY MAGIC !!

Team J6

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Whats going on under the Falls of Lora ? Well lets have a look then !!

Grandad and I in search of what lies below the whirlies 😀

As white-water kayakers of old, Neil and I had spent time on that most mythical of Scottish play waves, the magical Falls of Lora …  Formed by a huge tidal race flowing over a shallow reef and through the Connel bridge near Oban it was a place to surf , cartwheel and shit your pants in the huge whirlies below when you blew off the wave  😀

So when Neil rang me regarding exploring what lay beneath this beast I jumped at the chance .  Shane Wasik, diver, skipper, conservationist, lover of Haribo and the man behind both Basking Shark Scotland and Dive-Oban was running a weekend based on a special tide giving the slack needed to safely navigate the channel , a perfect time to explore…. we were on it !! Our good friend Alan Dorricott was also in for the ride so it was sure to be a great time , especially as he makes a cracking video too.

Dunstaffnage

Shane’s company is based out of Dunstaffnage marina near Oban. It’s a nice and quiet, and a location with all the facilities you will need on-site .  His Boat the CearBan is a little beauty too!  Just enough room and with its powerful engines and fast hull it handles the rough seas easily and slides comfortably through the waves en-route to the dive-site .. So after an early R.O. of 7.30 am we were headed in the direction of the falls to catch the first of the slack tides. A beautiful morning and with a great mix of friendly divers onboard, the day was starting out perfectly.

Cearban under the Connel …. fantastic photo by James Lynott

Upon arriving we discussed a dive plan and I was quickly suited and booted before rolling backwards into the North Atlantic sea … a balmy 8 degrees froze my lips and soon I was descending into the dark. The first dive saw us follow a deepening ravine to a depth of 30m . It was different from what I had imagined but there were many unusual parts to explore on this large reef.  Subsequent dives took us further out into the middle and ended up with us drifting in the current under the bridge much to the amusement of Neil who had probably been there before clinging to his kayak 😀

SS.Breda

After a couple of long dives it was now getting late and we needed to head back  to the Marina to prepare for the night dive.  First we hit the Marina Pub for grub, a diver marches on his stomach 😉 .  Inside we bumped into the larger than life Claire Simpson who was along for the night dive with her long suffering dive buddy Steve  😀 . We enjoyed a few laughs before heading out again in total darkness under a magnificently clear sky to dive the wreck of the SS.Breda ….

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away!

On these night dives  Shane has several humongously bright flood lights that he hangs from under the hull of the Cearban which illuminate the bow section of the wreck .. its very very cool .  If I am honest , deeper diving in Scotland is very akin to night diving , 30+ metres and below is often pitch black but it was definitely cool to be doing this with a starry sky and at a safe depth. Kitting up went smooth considering I couldn’t see half my kit and soon we went in. It’s a great wreck in the daylight and during the night , not deep if you stay high on the deck but a respectable 28m to the prop if you want to head down ! On this occasion there was a massive Moray eel looking out at us .  The wreck is incredibly intact and very close to port making it a west coast classic and a pleasure to dive.  Magic !! and the sky was so clear it looked like you could just grab a few stars to take home ! <3  As usual, all too soon the fun was over and we headed back to port around 10pm.

Night Diving … photo coutesy of the legendary Claire Simpson

The next day started well with a later R.O. courtesy of the clocks changing and the tides going the opposite way 😀   Another fantastic dive on the falls. we spent an hour following what felt like a huge deep wall across the channel . Made better with stunning viz and low currents with 33 m bottom.  Later that day we returned in daylight to revisit the Breda. The conditions were good , sun high in the sky and Alan and I headed to the prop to see the big Moray from the night before. He was gone !! only a large Pollack looking at us this time. A superb final dive topping off the amazing time we had all had …. Check out Alan’s excellent video of our weekend below

Many thanks to everyone, especially Alan, Neil and Shane for making it one to remember . I really need to get up North more often. 😀

all my own teeth 😀

Dunstaffnage

Puffin bay

rolin , rollin

Dunstaffnage with the Cearban moored.

Connel bridge

See no , hear no , speak no shit ! 😀

Sunset on Dunstaffnage

Oban bay

credit: Shane Wasik

credit: Shane Wasik

The Connel credit: Shane Wasik

 

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Neil and Mark go Clyde diving …. a visit to the Wallachia and Akka

The Clyde

The river Clyde flows through Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, and onward into some of the deepest coastal waters in Britain. The firth encompasses a number of large and small islands, and several Sea Lochs that creates a body of water stretching from Southern Scotland to the tip of Loch Fyne. The Clyde Sea Sill has been a designated Marine Protected Area due to its importance for local fish stocks and other higher marine predators. There are common sightings of seals and porpoises, with dolphins and some whale species spotted occasionally.

2 old boys with bad shoulders and stiff backs ….

I was staying home with Frank as I had been hard at it with work and just did not want to do anything on Saturday but stay in bed. But that devil on my shoulder Neil Farmer wasn’t going to let me do that !!  He rang and I heard .. Hello old boy, I have booked us on a Rhib (rigid hulled inflatable boat) out of Inverkip marina. Be at mines for 8.30am Saturday…

Neil and I heading into the Coe gorge to do battle many moons ago  😄

We have stories Neil and I , many of them , starting back when I was a super keen kayaker heading North to the highlands in search of flooded burns and waterfalls every weekend. He welcomed me into his kayak gang of Glasgow’s Elite, ” the dream team” 😆, over 25 years ago now !!  We bonded big time and have followed each other all over the world since !  From expedition kayaking in the high Himalaya to diving in the cold deep North Sea we have kept each other going even when we have both felt like retiring from the game many a time !  That devil just wont go away 😄😄 To be honest he deserves a full post to himself , now this would be a great read …  I love the big bastard ! #manlove❤️ 😄…

Inverkip Marina

Saturday arrived and I dragged myself out of bed, drove the 2 hours to Glasgow, living in the Borders is great for Eyemouth where I regularly dive but the west coast is a mission ! anyways I arrived at Neil’s door 8.30 am,  sharp as usual ..  no sign of Neil … I rang him , just up he says, give me 5 mins while I have a shower … Nothing new here then , if hes ever ready on time I will know something is very wrong !   However we were off out of his in good time to make our Inverkip schedule.  Here we would meet Jason Coles from Wreckspeditions , a charter company which is presently  making a fine name for itself up there on the West. Oh and he makes tea … did I mention the oh soooo fine Tea mmmHmmmmmm 😀

collectors items !! <3

We arrived at the dock and Jason was there to meet us , he introduced us to Peter, a cracking fella/diver  and he even turned out to be the author of two favourites from my book collection. They are Clyde and Argyle Shipwrecks , two beautifully researched and illustrated book on wrecks and history , seriously very good books.

The Starfish Enterprise ..

Jason was a gent and helped us dockside with all our gear. He introduced us to the Starfish Enterprise… his fast Rhib , a vessel well equipped for diving. We loaded the Rhib , ran through the safety procedures and soon headed out the Marina to a beautiful calm sea …

A calm Firth of Clyde

We arrived at the Akka, the largest of the Clyde wrecks at over 5000 tonnes. We found her  in good conditions with little current , soon we were diving …. Neil and I dropped off the Rhib backwards and made our way to the shot, dropping quickly to get clear of the surface current . We bubble checked at 6m and disappeared down the line … soon we were on the Akka , an iron ore transporter ship from Stockholm sank after grounding herself on the Gantock rocks.

The Akka

It was sitting in a maximum of 40m of water , the deck approximately 20-23m. With our good viz of 6-7m it made for a great dive. We circumnavigated the wreck checking out the wreck itself and the teaming wild life living on it .. after a full tour we headed back up the shot which was marked by my new Trojan strobe !!  which by the way is fucking Awesome with the capital A !! its like Blackpool illuminations on the line  😀   Everyone commented later on its eye blinding brightness  ! 😀   I bought it here :  TROJAN    It arrived quickly 3 days later , and has marked my every shot since … perfect !

Neil Decompressing on the line ..

Soon enough  we were headed to the second wreck of the day the Wallachia, a 1077nt iron steamship sank in 1895 after a collision with a Norwegian steamer .. the Flos.  This wreck had very strong surface currents , making it difficult to hit the shot and indeed I was hanging on it like a flag in the wind while trying to descend and given this is very close to a CAlmac ferry route it was a nervous moment. I certainly didn’t want to be aimlessly floating around in the Clyde while a big ferry was going around.

illustration by Peter Moir who we were honoured to be diving with that day

Once at 5-6m the current was gone and at 30m although dark and very gloomy the viz was good at around 5-6m and we proceeded to execute our dive following the hand rail round the entire ship , exploring as we went ..

it was another good wreck , intact, full of life and historic …  Indeed Rod Macdonald had this to say … The Wallachia ranks alongside the mighty Akka as one of the most important of the innumerable shipwrecks in the Firth of Clyde.  At 259 feet in length she can be easily explored in one dive and her fine lines, so distinctive of 19th century steamships, appreciated.  She is a relic from a bygone age, a tantalising glimpse of the majestic days of steam.  

Neil holding on to a mussel sprat covered shot line in strong surface currents …

All too soon we were heading back up the shot and the decompression was done..  Jason was on hand to expertly extract us from the sea and fill us full of tea and jammy dodgers …  nom nom yassss !!

Jason shoots in to safely pick us out the current

Neil and I had a great day with Wreckspeditions, great diving , expert cover by Jason and of course his service was outstanding , I really cant wait to go back … cheers fella … oh did I mention the tea and jammy dodgers ???  maybe I did 😀

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Diving the Nj Fjord …. Day of the Bell !

Invincible blowing up after being struck by shells from Lützow and Derfflinger

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle of any World War, fought between 31st May and 1st June 1916, in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark.Germany’s High Seas Fleet intended to lure out, trap, and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, as the German naval force was insufficient to openly engage the entire British fleet. This formed part of a larger strategy to break the British blockade of Germany and to allow German naval vessels access to the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Royal Navy pursued a strategy of engaging and destroying the High Seas Fleet, thereby keeping German naval forces contained and away from Britain and her shipping lanes.[4]    .The plan didn’t succeed, but the battle is considered to be won by the Germans, giving the Royal Navy a heavy blow.

HALT !! a cracking painting and huge credit to https://www.seawarmuseum.dk/

the painter is: Johannes E. Møller.

thank you 👍

The N.J.FJORD was the infamous ship that triggered the battle of Jutland when as it sailed unknowingly through the middle of the two great fleets the small steamer from neutral Denmark was stopped by the German vanguard, the engine had to be put on hold with the result that it let off steam.    The escape formed a big with cloud, which was seen from the nearest British ships  They were sent off to investigate the matter, and so the battle started ……..BOOM !   The Ship was subsequently sank by the UC-31 German U-boat and thought lost forever .. 

N.J. Fjord

Lost for almost 100 years its a piece of history that was thought gone, lost to the sea forever. But back in 2013 a team of expert divers had been hunting for this particular wreck and on June the 19th they sailed out of Eyemounth onboard the Jacob George from Marinequest  and they hit pay dirt .. here is that amazing story..  NJ FORD DISCOVERY     The discovery of the wreck that day and this subsequent retrieval of the bell will force a rewrite of the history books ….. 

Above is a fantastic video from that very day the bell was recovered. Edited by Brian Goddard , one of the original discoverers of the NJ Fjord .

I was lucky enough to be asked along …. and this is the story.

Leaving Eyemouth early …….

Early Monday morning on the 20th August a small band of intrepid divers and their captain set sail in perfect sea conditions to a beautiful sunrise … the mission to retrieve the bell from the NJ Fjord steam ship sank in 1917 and found in June 2013 no doubt to the delight of naval historians everywhere…..

Calm seas ahead

The journey out was a long one but the sea smooth and the banter good. A lesson in solenoid servicing from Brian Goddard to save they day when Alans rebreather wouldn’t fire helped pass the time. As did the great stories from everyone on-board .. When you fill a boat full of adventurous nutters you could write a book every time  …. Nicola , Maggie , Simon , Tim , Liam , Stevo , Alan, Ian  and Brian …. a life time of great adventures each !!

Battle of Jutland

After several hours of sailing we were finally above the wrecks position and dropping shot , the conditions were perfect , weather and viz to rival the Mediterranean and a piece of history below us , these days don’t happen very often … Zissou factor 10 !

Brian Goddard legend of the deep ..

With all the regular training I had been putting in I was confident in my skills to execute the dive, still I was comforted by the fact I was buddying up alongside Brian Goddard, a top diver who has been instrumental in the discovery of many a North Sea mark including the NjFjord. A North Sea legend to be honest.  I knew I was in good hands and I was sure to get a great dive.

readying for action …

We geared up and made ready , the plan was that Stevie , Liam and Tim , all very experienced divers would go in first as they would be instrumental in recovering the bell ..  Liam was the discoverer of the bell and although unable to raise it on his original discovery he had noted the position. They would head there directly and begin work as soon as they were down on the wreck. Brian And I would dive soon after . I checked and double checked my equipment then waited patiently ……………….

good to go ….

Ian dropped the first team into the water at the Buoy above the shot line then circled back round for Brian and I to go . We quickly dropped down to 6 metres and bubble checked , all clear … we dived to the easy shot clip and left our identification markers before continuing to the wreck … as I descended I saw it from high above, the viz was staggering , 20 to 30 metres and ambient light !  this far out to sea the conditions are world class … ..

The wreckage strewn out below me was amazing , what a wreck , 100 years and still in fantastic condition.. Brian pointed to a particular section and we finned across , here the bell was being prepared for recovery .. as i saw it there on the wreck , where it had been hiding for nearly one hundred years , a priceless piece of ours history lying before me ..

Brian now took me on a tour of the wreck and it was the best UK dive so far in my UK diving, with the fantastic viz and ambient light I could see everything pin sharp and here I was right in the middle of such a historic wreck.

All to soon it was time to get  back to the shot line and execute my decompression plan to the surface .. after what felt like an eternity I surfaced with a big smile on my face …..  I stripped down my gear and got into my civvies before Ian let me see the bell in all its glory … wow.

Liam , discoverer of the bell and one happy diver …

A priceless piece of history sat before me .. it was Liam’s find but everyone wanted to pose with it for a photo … This was a day to remember after all 🙂    Liam wont keep the bell as I believe the bell will eventually be presented to the executives of DFDS .  the owners of the wreck and put on public display ..

Eventually everyone was out of the water and Ian set sail for port … We settled in for a long journey back to port and another round of stories began ……

squad photo …

a naked woman appeared out the sky !! honest guv

I want to thank Marinequest and everyone onboard for giving me a day never to forget…… thank you all very much..  <3

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