Dover was its changeable self these past few days. The first of our trilogy “Black Thursday” days on Monday to the SS Leo and SS Polgrange were scuttled as changeable winds lashed the seas with Beaufort 7s.

This allowed Chris and me to have a natter and curry on Sunday night and then for me to start my Brighton Dive Report on Monday. The plan for Monday afternoon was to visit Tom, but with his discharge from hospital and him feeling tired, we finished up at the workshop and headed to Cullins. A few beers, dinner and an early night.

Tuesday’s “Black Thursday” dives to the SS Portslade and SS Corhaven were scuttled too.
Mark and Chris Curry

With me the only diver, it made no commercial sense to take out Maverick. However, today’s early 05.15am meet was to support the Folkestone Rowing Club on a charity event, rowing to the Bouee Colbart Nord off the Varne and back. A “possible 44km test of endurance” aiming to raise £5,000 for Brainstrust.

After a safety briefing, we left via the Western Entrance towards the marker. Sea state 2 and NE winds on a flooding tide gave the ladies a planned and added advantage. The plan was to allow the tide and wind to aid the cutter, turn around slack and allow the ebbing tide to assist them back to Dover. They rowed very well, very well indeed and made the Colbard Nord ahead of schedule.

Folkestone Rowing Club

With a celebration cheer, the ladies rounded the marker and headed home. I am not an expert, though here lay my perceived problem. Heading home, wind over wave what earlier was an assist, was now a challenge. With water lapping over the cutter and minimal bailing equipment, the ladies were soon treading water. A disappointing time for all. With all four rowers and cox safely onboard Maverick and cutter secured, we made a slow drive back to harbour. While Chris tried to liven up and warm up a despondent crew with banter, hot drinks and biscuits, I was at the wheel taking us home. A bitter disappointment for the ladies, but I’m sure they will try again another time.

Back on Maverick’s berth around 11.30pm, while Chris got on with work on Renegade, I cracked on with Brighton’s Dive Report and once we were complete, it was off to see Tom at home.

A small problem. I had forgotten to book accommodation this evening and with Wednesday’s dives on, I needed to find some slumber for the night.

An interesting topic speaking with Steve of Channel Diver at the weekend and Chris these past days, there is an obvious drop in diver numbers at the moment. All agree it’s not necessarily the cost of diving, but more so the added overhead of travel and (especially) accommodation that are increasing costs. Having spent a moment on Booking.Com and then both Premier Inn – Dover and Travelodge – Dover websites, the costs of tonight’s sleep seemed disproportionately expensive. So taking one for the team, I decided to stay in an 8-bedded male dormitory at The Fleurs Accommodation.

This is not my cup of tea when it comes to accommodation and with trepidations of snores, grunts and farts breaking a sleep pattern, I made the booking. Cost £29.00. The only downside was the £9.50 Ringo overnight parking FFS!

"Morning all. That dorm was not as bad as I thought. I was laying on my bed from about 9.00pm and dorking around on the Internet. By 9.30pm I was trying to get some sleep. One chap was playing some video clips out loud, but not for long. By 10.00pm two more people arrived and pretty much by then, everyone had their head down. All six beds were full. The bed itself was clean and the mattress firm. However a little uncomfortable, my sleep pattern was on and off, but all in all a good 7 hours sleep. The toilet and shower room facilities are clean. One male and one female shower and toilet, then one unisex toilet. A towel is provided if needed and I think a small bottle of water. The hallway and stairs are littered with laundry and belongings, I assume from the proprietor. Having re-read the prices this morning, a bed is £26.00 with no ability to cancel and £29.00 with the Booking.Com cancellation clause. Obviously there is no kettle, kitchen or coffee making facilities. Having woken up this morning, I came straight to the marina car park for ablutions in the marina facilities. Would I stay there again? Perhaps I would. Only for one night however; not a continuous two or three as I need my creature comforts. That said, it may be nice to have all beds to a group of six? The only downside was the £9.50 overnight car parking. Fantastic the car park was across the road, but it maybe an idea to find somewhere else? There is a pub downstairs and a short walk into the Market Square where pubs and eateries are en-route. There is a fish and chip shop next door. The accommodation was about a ten minute walk from the Travelodge. Certainly worth a look with local accommodation prices on the increase at the moment."

Would I stay there again? Yes, I think I would and at a price of around 20% of the Premier Inn and Travelodge, one has to wonder if a private room and bathroom and coffee facilities are worth the additional 80%? Wednesday morning ropes off was 07.30am and waking around 05.00am, I left said slumber for ablutions at the marina and kit setup.

Wednesday 27th July 2022 - The SS Henry Moon

SS Henry Moon

Today’s targets were the advertised SS Henry Moon and the WWI SS Toward [+1916]. Although Chris said we can choose different marks, we decided to dive the Moon as planned though perhaps change this afternoon to Othello II being a recce for next week’s two days? Two divers and me this morning as a threesome, though Chris would join me this afternoon as he had found a skipper.

As we neared the site of the Moon on the flooding ‘dirty’ tide, jubilant cries of “ooh” and “look at that viz!” filled the air. With Chris saying we could carry on a few more miles to the Nunima, we rejected the offer to dive the SS Henry Moon as it was a Black Thursday target.

Our decision proved a beneficial one. My buddies this morning were two gentlemen from Hertfordshire who have not dived with Muting Diving before. They were happy I join them as a threesome. We dived to an initial 26m to tie in the shot and release the grapple. Visibility had to be a good 3m to 4m, not too dark and not too hazy. We agreed on Maverick that one of the buddy pair would line out from the shot, them as divers 1 and 2 with me as diver 3. I was on a residual EAN26 from the weekend’s Brighton dives, while they were on EAN32. The plan was that if I wanted to turn the dive before them, I could.

The shot lay towards the stern on the port side, so we lined out. From it’s orientation, the Moon sits pretty much upright. Unfortunately we did not drop to the prop to see if it were there, receiving what I thought was a ‘turn’ signal from diver 1. As I swam back towards the shot, I lost both divers behind me. C’est la vie! Comfortable being alone, I dropped to the seabed and navigated 90 degrees off the wreck and along what I perceived may have been a mast? Depth here was about 30m and TTS 5 minutes, it was about turn and back to the shot, where I saw the other two divers. Catching up with them, I followed their new line over the wreck to a TTS of 9 minutes where I signalled my ascent.

The ascent was an interesting one. I never physically hold onto a shot for a number of reasons, but do like a tactile and/or visual reference. Up to around 9m and all of a sudden, my computer was moaning of a busted 6m stop. I’m now at 4.5m with a 6 minute stop at 6m. How the fuck did that happen? Exhale and dump gas and I’m now too deep at 9m. Inhale, add gas and I make a slow ascent from 9m to 6m trying to figure out what happened, as the shot continued to slip deeper and deeper through my fingers with bubbles from the diver below all around me. Deco clear and back aboard Maverick.

Teas, coffees and biscuits all around to the delights of all three divers. Everyone enjoyed the dive and with me trying to explain the surreal ascent, all became clear. The other two divers whom had never dived from Dover before, believed they needed to untie the shot just prior to their ascent. Obviously the shot became buoyant and even with a tactile reference, it was enough to disorient things up and down. All good at the end of the day and a new experience. Every day is a learning day.

Coal from SS Henry Moon

And that’s where the story ends. Problems with Maverick that afternoon unfortunately scuttled our dive later that day. A planned three days of six dives amounted to just one day of one dive. Ah well, it is what it is. Nonetheless a great few Dover days ending my week away including Brighton and Eastbourne and some Moon Rock!

Foot Note

I would like to dive the Henry Moon again and the others succumb to the Stukas of Black Thursday. However, not one on Mutiny’s normal agenda as Chris says viz is normally challenging in that area. Chris said that the Henry Moon had not been dived for years. Her Bridge Telegraph has already auctioned and I wonder what also may lay on site? Perhaps worth investigating the possibility of adopting her alongside the other Black Thursday wrecks as part of the NAS Adopt a Wreck scheme?