To celebrate Paul’s half century birthday later this year, nine of us went to the Isle of Man. We dived with Isle of Man Divers on a very nice large RIB with a lift, lots of cover and a toilet! We were also fortunate that our skipper was willing to keep his boat in different harbours dependant on the weather. Paul’s good choice (or maybe lucky one) was highlighted to us when we met a group of divers whose charter had cancelled the day due to the direction of the wind and the fact they were “wreck divers”. We all like wrecks but we like diving even more and a combination of a skipper that is eager to get us diving and our keenness to dive meant we had two dives every day.
The life is pretty different to our normal dive sites. Not so many swimming crabs, Tompot Blennies, no shoals of Bib and Poor Cod and very few Congers. We did however see more Sea Urchins, jelly fish, Yarrell Blennies, nudibranch, Ling, shoals of Colley, more wrasse of every type and of course lots of friendly seals. The most unusual sight was seeing the diving birds swim past on our stops.
Unfortunately our dives were all close to home due to fog and wind, however visibility was still amazing, 10-15 meters.
Sugar Loaf Caves 14 meters
Or first dive was to sugar loaf caves, pretty impressive and unusual dive going into very large caves and finally ending up at fairy hall which was large tunnel through the rocks. All caves were very large had roofs above water making you feel safe. On this dive we were accompanied by playful seals and diving birds on our stops. You could feel the swell in the caves so you had to time your swimming with the flow. If you looked too long at the seaweed moving with the swell it was very easy to get sea sick!
Buroo or Drinking Dragon Rock (spot the drinking dragon!) – 19.5 meters
We dived under a large rock that looked just like a drinking dragon, quite cool. This was a dive of colour jewel anemones, plumose anemones, orange, white and purple. Loads of nudibranch, dogfish and wrasse. This was a very rocky dive with lots of boulders to rummage under and the odd beam full of anemones. The boulders were all covered in a brown carpet of hydroids. The strange thing was the number of male cuckoo wrasse, much more in a small space than we are used to. Again we were visited by seals. This was where we saw our first shoal of colley.
Sugar Loaf Caves.
This was a late dive as we had to wait for the fog to lift. Another dive in the caves this time with seals just in the distance, caves are amazing and so long. The second cave, we went as far as we could without taking tank off… not a place to panic. The sea was much rougher and you could hear the boom of the waves amplified in the caves. Again the swimming birds came to have a nosey.
Creg –Y-Jaghee – 17 meters
A dive full of boulders, excellent to root around and under. Saw dogfish, light bulb squirts, lots of urchins, large star fish including bloody henrys. There were bits of metal scattered around. Several nosey male and female cuckoo wrasse. As usual, loads of jelly fish on our stops, mainly moon jelly fish.
Thracian – 33 meters
This was a Victorian steel sailing ship. The Thracian was of all-steel construction, with a hull of steel plates over steel frames, so there is a lot of intact hull standing up from the seabed, albeit upside-down. The highest point is the stern, rising to 29m from a 36m seabed. Shot was by the stern, if you swam to the bow you passed over 4 masts. The bow was still quite proud of the sea bed covered in plumose anemones. The wreck was covered in Devonshire cup coral and nudibranch. The rudder was just a frame. We saw congers, ling and lobsters. There were lots of scallops around the wreck
Chicken Rock – 30+ meters
Not to be dived by the faint hearted! This is a rock with a lighthouse on it. It was possibly the prettiest dive we did. The book did say currents can be very strong however what it didn’t say was that it went from no tide to full tide in a matter of seconds. We had to leave the rock quite suddenly and were instantly pulled down from 15 meters down to 30 meters. Some of us were also span in circles. We all did well and managed to get to the surface safely albeit scattered in different directions from the rock.
Bay fine (twice) – 20 meters
All we could do this day was bay fine. The sea was far too rough to go anywhere else.
We started on the pinnacle and went right or left.
The pinnacle was full of lots of nudibranch of various colours. With cliffs on the right the rocks were covered in coloured sea weed, red and maroon, followed by rocks covered in brown hydroids, not very colourful but with lots of lobsters, squats and crabs. Getting closer to the cliffs was like swimming in rock pools with kelp, sea weed and limpets.
Going to left there was lots more “vegetation” a much prettier dive. With the biggest lobster of the week, Squat lobsters, several ling, sea lemon and cling fish.
Amulty – 21 meters
Yet another scenic dive, we went in where a baby seal was watching us, he did visits but was very timid. More nudibranch, more rocks and boulders to root under. Lots of plumose anemones, some snake lock anemone and velvet swimming crabs not seen so much on other dives. Again lots of crabs and lobsters and masses of different wrasse, what we lost in bib we made for in wrasse! We did see a few poor cod and rock cook this dive but not in the numbers we are used to.
Something I saw when we came to shore for lunch I thought was very good, that on the end of the jetty at Port Erin is an A flag that can be flown when people are doing shore dives..very clever.
582-ton British steamer, built 1921. 165ft x 27ft. Cargo: In ballast, Belfast to Trevor.
Sunk: 17 March, 1931, by running aground in thick fog. Ten of 12 crew lost.
Our skipper doesn’t really use shot but if you listened to his brief you did find the wreck. The Citrine was an excellent wreck with all the parts you would expect to see on a wreck. Boilers, engine, anchors, propeller, spare propeller, rudder. All in slightly strange places but all there. In the bow there were anchor chains in chain locker where the locker had obviously eroded away leaving a perfect square of chain. Close by the anchors there were winches. There were dog fish and very large sea hares
The wrasse like shinny bits of kit and will come very close to investigate!
We dived the Citrine again which was excellent as after discussing the wreck after the first visit. We were able to see the bits we didn’t see the first time!
Gibdale Point – 18.6 meters
We really weren’t sure we’d get this final dive in as the forecast was so bad. We did meet a group of divers that didn’t get out at all because their skipper didn’t move their boat into a harbour that they could dive from. It was pouring down with rain when we came up from the Citrine. There were seals in the bay as we went in. The aim was to go round the point into Bay Fine. The tide was running slightly but it was possible to get into the bay. Saw dogfish, 1 tiny nudibranch, crabs and lobsters. There were seals that stayed with us on our stops they were quite shy but stayed quite close. One sat on the surface with us until the boat picked us up.