Watching the weather the previous few days, my projection was an equal 50/50 as to whether we would get out yesterday? Driving along the A20 and exiting the Roundhill Tunnel with the mist across the hills and cliffs, I was certainly expecting the dive to be aborted to HMS Cullins. However and arriving at the marina car park, there were a few familiar faces and indeed Maverick was tied alongside the visitors pontoon. Game on!

With my CCR out of action at the moment, I was diving OC twins but after the previous Vobster expedition, I only had 108 bar of 31%. Unfortunately I was unable to get a top up, though a little cascade filling from various mixes from bailout, deco and air cylinders in the garage I managed 162 bar at 30%. Happy days.

There was drizzle and gusts of wind as we loaded Maverick and my Nautide fishing app was showing a 2.6m significant wave hight and Beaufort 4 (gusting 7) moderate breeze (near gale) winds. Challenging conditions for sure, but doable.

The Mindora

The planned dive site was HMT Drumtochty but with wind and tide direction, a change of plan was a treasure dive to the Mindora. Not much is known about the Mindora wreck and there is nothing tangible on the traditional Internet web resources. What is known is that the bell has been found and the Mindora name is the correct spelling. She is a steel and wooden wreck as can be seen with the various copper pins. There are no boilers. Chris suggests that from the size of the anchor, she may have been around 100m in length but around 30m can be seen proud above the sand.

Update 29/12/2021

Having done a little more research, I have found that the Mindora was a wooden and steel barque, constructed in August 1864 with dimensions of circa 42 metres in length, 9 metres in breadth and depth of 18 metres. She was registered in London weighing 436 tons. Newspaper reports of the era state that she was en-route from London to Victoria, Vancouver Island with passengers and “valuable cargo” when she collided with the Khersonese and sunk on 27th November 1864.

One thing is for sure, the wrecksite is littered with cargo of various bottles either on the seabed or a couple of inches below.

On a previous dive to the Mindora last year, I did find a pottery bottle titled “A PHILLIPS – VICTORIA VI” on the front and “DOULTON & CO – LAMBETH- LONDON” on the reverse. I was told the contents is ginger beer and little Googling leads us to the Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. in Victoria, British Columbia as a tenuous link. What’s more certain is that the impressed Doulton marking dates the bottle around 1854/1870.
Bottle Of Ginger Beer From Mindora

Arriving on site, the swell made kitting up a little difficult. There were six divers on board, three on CCR and three OC. For this dive I had no buddy, so a solo dive for me. I do prefer to dive with a partner but solo does have it’s merits but different considerations. I’ve not taken the SDI Solo course but regularly dive self reliant with buddies or teams, I was thus happy to make a solo no decodive.

Even in difficult wind and waves, Chris managed to shot the wreck first time. As the grapple and shot descended, it was a good 4m vertical visibility

The Dive

I was last to plunge and although high swells, hit the shot and once settled, descended into the calmer environment beneath the waves. By the time I hit the wreck, it was a mere 1m and dark. A quick tactile touch of cylinder valves and regular exchange, I was good to go. Chris wanted us back up the shot and I reeled out, shining my torch through the minimal visibility looking for artefacts. Chris said the best place to look was alongside the gunnels and follow the wreck upwards along the sand bank. Nothing, so I turned around and back to the cat’s cradle of lines tied to the shot and there, just there was a bottle and decided on a circular search pattern but to no avail and with worries of entanglement and an NDL of zero, it was time to ascend. One bottle in my pocket it was back up the shot to the lumpy surface to be picked up by Maverick.

With all divers back on board, kit secured and shot retrieved, we were back to Dover. One diver friend giving me another ginger beer bottle he found as a gift for my daughter’s birthday! He himself finding a rather perfect clay penny pipe which attracted some envious eyes. Supposedly one of only three ever intact pipes recovered.

Mindora Finds

For sure a challenging day weather wise, but the dive itself was most excellent. Run time for me was just 29 minutes to a maximum depth of 30.2 metres with 1m visibility. Air temperature was 11degC, surface temperature was 10degC and bottom temperature was 9degC. Gas in was 154 bar and gas out 91 bar. All swilled down with a post dive pint at Cullins!