The dive trail is open!

Bank Holiday Monday – never good for traffic, and this day was no exception. The temperature on leaving home was 25oC. However, as we slowly eeeeked our way up the A1, the temperature begun to drop. Almost 2 hours later when we arrived in Seahouses, the temperature was only 15oC, much better for wearing a dry suit. We all kitted up and headed on to Glad Tidings VII, with Michael as our skipper. A merry band of 12 Tyneside 114 members, all to try out the new trail.

Sue above cannon 6012 the cannon in the gully.

The first dive was on North Wamseys, where Hanna did her Ocean Diver qualifying dive with Si Fish. The visibility was about 5 metres, with lots of marine life including a reluctant octopus. The second dive, after a shorter than normal surface interval (due to potential incoming fog, that didn’t arrive in the end) was on Gun Rocks.

We actually dived the site on slack which was great. Each buddy pair was given a map so that they could see that the trail was not circular, but fanned out in three directions from the central pile of three. Everyone was able to navigate around, and for some it was the first time they had actually seen the cannon (including some who had done the site before!). The visibility was about 5 metres which was great.

Sue looking for crabs in the muzzle of cannon 6008.

I was diving with Sue, so used her as a model, taking lots of photos for future publicity. We also took advantage of the slack to swim over a larger area than the trail. It is really evident towards the eastern end of the rock, how the storms have ripped up all of the kelp. There is just now a large pebble bed. Back on the other side of the trail, to the west, the kelp is fully intact and the short walls into the sound are still covered with life such as dead man’s fingers. We also took the opportunity to find the cannon which Si found last year, and to take some more photographs of it.

All of the photographs which I took, have been added to the Gallery section of this website. If anyone reading this post, has photos which they would like me to add, then please let me know – you can use the contact form, or my email if you have it.

The feedback from everyone was good. It seems that finally we may have a working dive trail, which will allow people to actually see the cannon in all of their glory. The maps will be updated and information put on the back about the cannon and the site in general. Once produced it can then be downloaded from the dive trail section of this website, for use in the field. In the meantime, the draft map can be downloaded here. 

Installing the Gun Rocks dive trail

Finally the wrath of the Beast from the East has abated. The trail laying day dawned hazy, but with no wind and no swell. By the time we launched at Seahouses, the sun had even come out.

The day was to entail one dive, two groups (Nic, Darren and Peta; followed by Si and Michael). The first group had the job of cleaning the cannon, the second laying the trail.

We shot the pile of three cannon then headed down. It seems that the easterly storms have taken a bit of a toll on Gun Rocks, with large areas denuded of Kelp, while some of the gullies have piles of dead kelp just floating in them. The trail area has fared better, with most of the mature kelps still remaining. On the cannons, only low growth was present, which was easy to remove. A few red seaweeds but mostly just juvenile furbelows kelp with its knobbly hold fast!

It took just over an hour for the three of us to clean the cannon, to make them all pink and shiny, for we only removed the seaweed and have left the pink encrusting algae in situ as it protects the metal of the cannon underneath. We also found a lost weigh pouch while down… We lost one 2 years ago on Gun Rocks, so good to find it again. During the clearance, a short video of the work was taken:

For the second dive Michael and Si went down with the rope to install the trail. This took a further hour, with lots of knot tying and rope shortening with very cold hands. The water was only 8oC and Si was wearing only 3mm gloves so that he still had dexterity. Brr. But eventually they manged to route the rope under, around and over all of the cannon.

The pile of three form the central point of the trail. Then there are three branches out from this. Subject to feedback this was considered to be the best configuration for joining all of the cannon together in a trail. The rope even goes over a pile of well encrusted cannon balls, so it will be interesting to see if anyone notices them!

After a long dive each, we decided to return to Seahouses, happy I the knowledge that we have finally installed the Gun Rocks dive trail, ready for divers to try on Monday.