Read this second blog from Members of Newbury Scuba Diving Club who spent a week diving in Scapa Flow.
Jonathan managed to break two buddies, one before he even got into the water, the second before we got to the bottom of the shot, nice one Jon!! Kevin managed to lose his nuts (we are worried about sabotage, Personally I suspect xxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, a great as usual briefing, meant that navigating to the gun we were aiming to see was easy, it also helped that Matt and I were the last ones on the wreck so could just cheat and follow everyone else. Considering we were the last ones to venture into the very silty area to view the gun, the vis wasn’t that bad. It was a little nerve wracking to venture into somewhere that could easily become stirred up, but it was very enjoyable and we didn’t kick up too much. I was glad to see the gun and as a bit of a bonus I also enjoyed watching a couple of crabs seeming have a bit of a scrap. According to the brief the guns are big enough to fire a Smart car + 2 people and their shopping 8 miles (making it the fastest, and possibly deadliest Smart car in the world!!).
After seeing the gun and angry crabs, we decided to go up slightly and take a look along the side of the wreck. In total we spent 30 minutes looking in portholes and areas that had come away or been damaged and being continuously surprised by the size of her. I’m sure you could spend a few hours swimming around and through her, but the temperature got the better of me and we made our ascent. As we were ascending we noticed we had company in the shape of two other pairs of divers.
Another “light” lunch, burger n chips (oh and salad too) and we were back in the action. Me (Matt) and Ian N were 2nd pair in this time and down we descended into the beautiful turquoise coloured water-just like the Caribbean… we descended some more and it was no longer like the Caribbean. The Cöln is in great condition, laying on its side the features are recognisable down to 33m ish and along the side of the ship at approx 20m there are plenty of port holes to peer in to. The torch beams of other divers peering in from further down illuminated the inside which made a nice effect. We didn’t see the torpedo tube, though-next time!
Plenty of wildlife to see, brittle and feather stars a plenty, a flat bottom fish (plaice?) was chilling out on some scrap metal, shoals of various sized fish swimming around and the rest of the squidges and other anemones were doing what squidges and anemones do. So after 30 or so mins it was time to go up, Ian sent his DSMB up and up we went. The sun came out and it was bright and clear at 6m. After we were back on board de-kitted washed and so forth, we enjoyed some vegetarian, vegan or whatever they call themselves cupcakes-lemon drizzle flavoured and were very nice indeed.
…Annie, one of Jonathan’s broken buddies, also broke herself on the Cöln, lost a glove and will have to donate to RNLI if she wants it back…apparently the wrecks of the UK are also littered with Annie’s kit…(The Cöln also claimed Jonathan’s shiny Kent tooling reel) Kevin’s nuts are still missing but he has managed to borrow some.
Quick visit to the Ferry inn for some refreshment whilst Hazel offloaded some gas cylinders.
Evening meal: Chorizo quiche, Sausage casserole, Cheesecake (Matt “3 portions”) Walters really, really liked the cheesecake! [note: in my defence, everyone else had heafty portions of quiche for starter, and I did not]) then it was time for more kit faffing and another quick visit to the Ferry.
Bit grey this morning.
Kevin has checked his nuts and they are still attached.
SMS Markgraf. König class battleship and the deepest remaining at Scapa. Kevin joined me (Jonathan) again today after his desertion yesterday. With trimix in our diluent and deep & shallow bailouts we headed down the stern line following Johno and Cathy. We came down on to the keel just forward of the rudders. These stick up 3.5m towards the surface and are a very impressive sight. We leave Johno & Cathy taking photos between the rudders and head down to the stern. For such a large ship the Markgraf has a small stern which almost looks like a sailing yacht from the 1920s. From the stern we turn forwards going with the slight current. We see some of the portholes from the officers cabin before we come across the main salvage break where the condensers were taken out. Staying on the outside in the debris field to make sure we don’t go inside by mistake we keep heading forward. Visibility has improved a bit on the bottom and is around 5-6m.
The Markgraf has 7 Casemate guns on each side and we start to pass by them. I see 4 for certain before we reach the anchor chain which is wrapped around the hull from where she rotated as she sank back in 1919. We agree to keep going to take a look at the bow. The bow is the deepest part of the wreck and so with lots of deco already incurred we reached 44m as we got to the bow. Even in the limited visibility it is a very impressive sight heading straight up before curving round to the keel line. We return to the anchor chain as the forward shotline is tied into this and we start to head up. We’ve been down for 40 minutes now and have 25 minutes to go before we can surface. We work through our decompression stops at 12, 9 and 6m and once it has all cleared we return to a now fairly choppy surface to get picked up. It has been a lovely dive and my deepest for some time.
Lunch was bread and meatballs in tomato sauce with salad.
So Matt went in with Ian N, and they both got out so Matt went back in with Doug and Andrew and Cathy went in with Johno. Johno then got out so Doug continued on with Cathy and Matt continued on with Andrew. Annie jumped ship in the morning so didn’t dive with anyone! (Johns ears made a miraculous recovery so he went in later)
Muppet of the day: (an individual who will remain nameless) for leaving the last 3 inches of his zip open, DOH!
The second dive of the day was a return to the SMS Cöln. After we had all swapped around our buddies on the shot line we descended to the wreck, starting at the lifeboat davits. The four of us (Andrew, Matt, Cathy, & Doug) followed along the deck of the wreck, stopping to do a short swim through. The impressive high elevation gun and torpedo tube were a highlight from the initial briefing so we all spent plenty of time checking those out. Despite having already dived the wreck there was plenty more detail to see. Matt and I (Andrew) left Doug and Cathy to explore the salvaged area of the wreck, whilst we went in search of more guns, which I had missed on the first dive.
We managed to find the two aft guns which sit on top of and in front of what was the officer’s quarters. The Cöln was as impressive and interesting on the second dive as it was the first.
Jonathan and Kevin spent their dive searching for Jonathan’s missing reel, they didn’t find it, mainly because it was already on board Huskyn waiting for its owner to exchange it for beer! There was more broken kit for Jonathan, as he came up with a rather dangly stage cylinder, I think it needs some new string.
Once back on shore most of went for a stroll up to Stromness museum (some of us went via Scapa scuba for yet more suit repairs)
Evening meal: Lasagne and apple crumble, followed by ritual kit faffing and a visit to the Ferry.
Read the rest of the story in Part 3.