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DIVE UK: Diving the Rosalie and the Vera

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Rosalie

INFO

Diver photographing Plumose Anemones on the Rosalie at WeybourneType of Dive: Easy entry from the beach and short surface swim

Experience: Suitable for novice divers

Depth: Approx 10m at high tide

Marine life: Varied

Visibility: From June to September can be 8m

Seabed: Sand

How to get there:

Leave the M11 at junction 9 and then merge with the A11. Follow the A11 up to Norwich and then travel round the outer ring road following signs for the A140 (Cromer).  Shortly after passing Asda and B&Q you will arrive at the junction with the Cromer Road.  The dive shop is located on this junction and has parking outside the front conservatory.

To access the wrecks continue up the A140 until you reach Cromer and then follow the A149 coast road west until you reach Cley (for The Vera) or  Weybourne for the Rosalie.

THE DIVE

Plumose Anemones on the RosalieThe SS Rosalie was just one of the 206 ships sunk by Otto Steinbrinck, the most celebrated U-boat commander of WW1. During what was an otherwise uneventful voyage from the Tyne to San Francisco, the crew of 17 were unaware that their ship was to become the U–Boat Commander’s next victim. On the evening of the 10th of August 1915 as the ship neared Blakeney Buoy, German U–Boat UB 10 fired a torpedo which hit the port side of the ship; and then, amidst the commotion and under the cover of the sea, made good its escape. With the ship taking on water, the decision was made to beach the 120m long vessel at Weybourne in the hope that the damage could be repaired.  She now sits in approximately 8 metres of water just off the shingle beach.

The  SS Vera was on voyage from the Tyne to Italy with a cargo of coal, when on the 15th of November 1914 she collided with a Royal Navy minesweeper. Like the Rosalie, the quick thinking crew were able to beach the vessel before she surrendered to the sea and she now sits in shallow water within easy reach of the shore. Although both ships were eventually sold for salvage there is still plenty of wreckage for divers to explore.

Both dive sites have pay and display car parks. For the Rosalie park as near to the steps on the NW corner of the Weybourne beach car park as possible. Then, follow the beach west for 450m. At low tide small sections of the wreck are visible from the shore.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the Vera, park your vehicle in the SE corner of the beach car park which is opposite the Norfolk Wildlife Trust visitors centre on the A149 Coast Road and then follow the dirt track East for approximately 200m. Again, like the Rosalie you will see wreckage protruding from the surf at low tide.

It is possible to dive both the Rosalie and the Vera on the same day. Albeit that you will have a six hour surface interval between dives. After deciding which wreck will be your second dive of the day, swim out and place a surface marker buoy on it. This will make it much easier to find when it is completely submerged at high tide.

Both dives need to be carried out at slack tide as otherwise the current is too strong.  The centre of slack is approximately 2 hours after low or high tide at Cromer.  Visibility is better at slack high tide but the wrecks will be completely submerged making them difficult to find unless you have buoyed them.

A diver on the Rosalie at WeybourneIf your first dive is to be the Rosalie, it is a bit of a hike to the entry point – somewhere between 450 and 500m – so best to take your kit to the water’s edge in stages.  You will then have a surface swim of around 180m before you reach the protruding wreckage and make your descent.

If you decide to dive the Vera first, the walk to the entry point is around 200m and the surface swim out to the wreck is 120m, so you can kit up in the car park.   Both dives are shallow, so a  10 litre tank will be sufficient for most people and easier to carry along the beach.

On both wrecks you will descend on or around the engine blocks. If you are diving on the Rosalie, the engine block stands roughly 8m proud of the seabed and is an ideal place for you to begin your exploration of the wreck. There are lots of nooks and crannies playing host to a multitude of creatures such as shrimps, velvet swimming crabs and pipefish. In the larger crevices, and hiding amongst the mangled metal, it’s possible that you will encounter more popular crustaceans such as lobsters or edible crabs. You can if you wish stay really shallow in a depth of 5m and head towards the bow of the ship; or, you may want to follow the contour of the open hull and the prop shaft towards the stern of the vessel, which sits in a depth of no more than 10m at high tide. However, bear in mind this is a big wreck; the distance between the engine block and the stern is approximately 60m, so you may not get to see all of it on the one dive. What will astound you as you navigate your way around the site is the sheer number of plumose anemones on this one wreck. On both wrecks you will only get a maximum of an hour before the tide starts to run again, so it may be best on the Rosalie to be near the bow towards the end of the dive, or on the Vera near the port side ribs. This way you will only be a short distance from the shore.

Crystal Sea SlugDiver on the RosalieThe wreck of the Vera is a very similar dive to that of the Rosalie, only smaller, closer to the shore and shallower. Sitting in a maximum depth of 8m at high tide you will again descend onto the engine block. Although scattered over a wide area, you will find that much of the wreck is lying parallel to the shore, and like the Rosalie is smothered in plumose anemones. To reach certain sections of the wreck it is necessary for you to pass over barren areas of sand. It is these areas, where if you look closely, you will find small flatfish.

Towards the stern of the Rosalie and hidden amongst the plumose anemones you will find an abundance of nudibranchs. Crystal sea slugs and violet slugs being the most flamboyant. This is an excellent dive site for the macro photographer. On the wreck of the Vera keep an eye out for porcelain crabs. If you are using a camera it may be wise to use a macro lens.

DIVE CENTRE

Christal Seas ScubaChristal Seas Scuba is a PADI 5Star IDC centre in Norwich, just a short distance from the two wrecks, and is owned and run by Chris and Polly Wake. Chris, a PADI Course Director and Polly, an IDC Staff instructor, started their business over decade ago. After years of dedication and hard work the fruits of their labour is visible for all to see. The centre has just about everything you could possibly want in a dive school. Equipment from a whole host of manufacturers adorn every inch of the shop walls. Behind the counter, cameras, strobes and housings highlight the couple’s passion for underwater photography. Along with their team of experienced Instructors  they can offer a wide range of courses  from beginner through to the more demanding professional and technical courses.  They service and repair equipment, provide air and mixed gasses, arrange holidays and club events and hire equipment to divers wanting to experience UK diving for the very first time. If you require accommodation, just let them know and they can suggest some good local B&Bs and campsites. The dive centre also has its very own rib which can carry 10 divers and two members of crew.  This heads out for regular trips to the many wrecks that lie further offshore and spaces can be booked by contacting the dive centre by telephoning the dive shop on 01603 485000, by emailing info@scuba4me.co.uk or via their website: www.scuba4me.co.uk.

Sitting on the most easterly point of the British Isles the sites are at the mercy of the elements. With this in mind it is always best to contact the dive centre or the coastguard in advance for up to date weather conditions. In the event that there has been recent high winds, wait until there has been a period of calm weather before attempting to dive here.

Photos courtesy of Rob Spray and Seasearch

 

Patrick Shier is an experienced diver who is a regular contributor to both UK and international SCUBA diving magazines. He is also the author of the UK Dive Guide, which promotes diving in the UK and encourages newly qualified divers to discover the delights of diving in UK waters. Patrick’s passion for the marine environment is not limited to the UK; he has dived, and photographed, many superb dive sites around the world including Samoa, Grenada, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malta and the Red Sea.

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Wining and Diving – Costa Brava, Spain

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The Wining and Diving series sees Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown embark on a tour to tickle the taste buds as well as to discover amazing dive sites in wine-making regions around the world. Some of the best wines are influenced by sea breezes and a coastal climate, allowing two of Nick and Caroline’s passions to be combined into one epic journey.

**Please note, Nick and Caroline are not encouraging drinking before diving! The two activities are kept well apart on each of these trips.


The Costa Brava is a hugely popular destination for those seeking sunshine, but it has much, much more to offer that just beaches and bars. One advantage to the huge number of tourists heading in this direction each year, is that the flights are competitively priced and go from all our major, and some smaller, airports. We had heard that there was some excellent diving around the Medes Islands and we got the opportunity to head to L’Estartit for a long weekend to check it out, as well as exploring the local region to sample its excellent food and wine. We flew into Girona, which is about an hour away from our coastal base and flew back to the UK from Barcelona, about 2 hours away from L’Estartit.

Our diving was to be based around a group of pinnacles called the Medes Islands. These can be reached by a very short boat ride from L’Estartit and are a series of weather-worn rocks rearing up out of the sea. The islands and the sea that surrounds them have been a marine reserve for over 30 years and the protected area immediately around the island excludes all fishing and hunting activities as well as throwing anchor. A much larger area, which is increasing in size all the time, has a series of further protections, to prevent any harmful fishing activities and preventing all but the handful of local line fishing boats from coming into this area at all. This protection, over a long period of time, has made these islands a mecca for divers.

The rock formations, when you go down to around 20m are covered in amazing gorgonian corals. Red, orange, yellow and pink corals cover the walls, anemones fight for space, so that dives are packed with colour. The fish life is also excellent. We encountered large octopus and grouper on all the dives. Schools of smaller fish patrol the shallows, barracuda form large schools and circle in the sunlight and blennies hide in every small hole that can be found. We also saw the biggest scorpionfish you are ever likely to see! On the short boat ride back to shore between dives, we encountered mola mola.

In our short stay, we got to visit 4 dive sites over 2 days of diving. Our first dive was actually on the main coastline rather than the Medes islands themselves. In flat calm water, basking in sunshine, we dropped down to find a series of overhangs, tunnels and caves to explore. Barracuda glinted in the sunlight near the surface and we were treated with an octopus poking out of a crevice on our slow descent. Closer inspection of the reef revealed both huge and tiny nudibanches, camouflaged scorpionfish and blennies hiding in every hole in the coral. It was a great dive, topped off by seeing a Mola mola, or sunfish, at the surface from the boat on our short journey back to harbour. After a bite to eat, we were back on a boat and heading for our first dive of the Medes Islands.

Les Farranelles is one of the smallest islands in the Medes Islands. The dive ranges in depth from around 8 to 40m. As you go deeper, you find more and more rock formation covered in amazing corals. Large grouper hang motionless in the water and even come up to divers to see what they are up to.  As you come up shallower, you can spend time looking for tiny critters on boulders closer to the surface. Moray Eels hide between the rocks, with their cleaner shrimp companions.

The next day we dived El Salpatxot, where a vital marine ecosystem of sea grass shelters juvenile fish. This dive site is on the largest of the islands and so can provide some shelter for divers in windy conditions. However, for us it was another perfect day, with visibility of about 15m, flat seas and the water temperature which suited our 5mm wetsuits well (around 21 degrees). Our final dive was to be one of the most famous dive sites in the area: Dolfi Sud (or Dolphin South). The site is named after a small statue of a dolphin that can be found at the entrance of one of the many caves that make up this dive site, one of which cuts right through the island from one side to the other. Grouper patrol the caverns that, at certain times of day, are flooded with sunlight. Conger eels lie tucked away in the caves too. It is a great site for those that like to explore.

Our diving over for this trip, we picked up our hire car and planned a route with the tourist board that would allow us visit some of the best, though not well-known, vineyards in the area and to be able to sample the fabulous local produce. This part of Spain is famous for olive oil and wine, as well as great food. We took our car up into the Roses region to sample some of what was on offer. Much of the area on land, as well as at sea, is nature reserve too, so the growers of olives and grapes follow a more traditional way of production, using organic methods and shunning heavy machinery. Our first stop was to a local co-operative, Empordalia, who work with local farmers to bring to market, the wines, olive oil and other local produce to sell in their shop and café. The wine, especially the sweet, red wine, and olive oil were wonderful and so we decided to bring some home with us (regardless of our tight weight limit on the plane!)

We then headed further towards the coast to visit a vineyard that was run by the granddaughter of the founder, Col de Roses. She whisked us into her 4×4 and said I have something to show you. She drove us through the stunning coutryside down to the coast, along smaller and smaller roads, until we were driving through the terraced national park along her vines. All this so that she could show us her sea view vines that get their cooling straight from the sea breezes. “You are divers” she said, “so am I – I thought you would like this!” We did. Up on the terrace, with got a chance to sample the wines and then, to our delight, she gave us 3 bottles to bring home and try in our own time (packing really was going to be a problem!)

Our final stop was to a gourmet restaurant, called Terranova, for lunch. This was to be no ordinary lunch, but a tasting menu, where food seemed to be never-ending, each small course being accompanied by a local wine (for Nick – who was not driving). We sat on the terrace, in dappled sunshine and loved every minute of it. Our tour was a perfect day trip from L’Estartit. The tourist board have created wine tours for all those that fancy a go at this and provide maps and recommendations to help you along.

As a final bonus, with our return flight from Barcelona, we got to do a quick day trip, taking in a leisurely walk up Las Ramblas, stumbling across a festival with human towers reaching scary heights with tiny children in crash helmets at the very top, jumping on a bus tour around this stunning city, all before heading to the airport and home.


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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Take an immersive dive below the waves off the Welsh coast using 360 VR: Black Bream (Watch Video)

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A week-long series from Jake Davies…

Below the waves off the Welsh coast, there are a range of species and habitats that can be seen. However, you don’t have to venture too far from the shore to see them or don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Using 360 videos provides an immersive feeling of being below the water and encountering many species and habitats from diving one of the most important habitats and species that aren’t often seen whilst diving. For more of an experience of being below the waves, the VR videos can be viewed using a VR headset.

Take a VR dip into the blue waters off the Welsh coast with a species which are often shy with divers, the Black Bream (Spondyliosoma cantharu).

Black bream are often very wary of divers underwater, however they were curious to find out more about the VR camera. As a species, black bream are a more southerly distributed species however, over the decades with waters warming they’re distribution has increased northerly. During the summer period, they come inshore to breed and males will build nests and protect the eggs.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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