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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.

News

Top 12 Dive Destinations in Oceania – Part 2

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Oceania has a fascinating mixture of well-known romantic destinations and wild, remote dive spots that few people ever get to visit. It is a region of contrasts with enough dive destinations and cultural highlights to satisfy even the most adventurous divers. In part II of 12 great places to go diving in Oceania, we take a deep dive into some of this region’s most famous and little-known islands. Get inspired for your next dive trip to Oceania here.


French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s Society Islands have a stellar list of dive destinations, including Tahiti and Moorea. Between them, they offer easy coral reef diving and calm, turquoise lagoons with friendly stingrays and blacktip reef sharks. You can also swim with humpback whales, tiger sharks, lemon and nurse sharks there.

This beautiful nation’s best-known dive spots, Fakarava and Rangiroa atolls, are just a short flight away from the Society Islands. Both of these huge atolls offer exciting pass dives with hundreds of grey reef sharks and resident dolphins.

For a completely different dive experience, visit the Marquesas Islands. This island group is the farthest from any landfall on Earth and has a unique underwater world that hosts unusually large mantas and melon-headed whales.

And if that all sounds like too much effort, go Bora Bora scuba diving instead. This ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ has fantastic diving, and you can spend your downtime relaxing with champagne lunches on deserted islands.


The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are a haven for more than 1000 reef fish species and numerous prized critters, plus dolphins, sharks, rays and six species of sea turtle. Hosting hundreds of wrecks and remote hard coral reefs, there is something for every diver there.

The Russell Islands host some of the best-known dive sites in all of the Solomon Islands. There, you can glide between the walls of a crevasse that cuts through an island, immerse yourself in wreck diving at White Sand Beach, swim through a halocline at Custom Caves, or go in search of pygmy seahorses.

For the best wreck diving, make sure you visit Iron Bottom Sound. This stretch of water hosts around 200 ships and more than 600 aircraft wrecks from World War II. It is a wreck diving mecca that offers excellent tech-wreck dives.


The Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands is a chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls that few people know about. As the fifth least visited country in the world, these islands offer remote diving among exciting deep wrecks and vibrant coral reefs.

Bikini Atoll is the main dive destination in the Marshall Islands. Made famous by US atomic bomb tests in the 1940s, this atoll hosts numerous deep wrecks that offer incredible tech diving.

As well as some of the best tech-wreck dives imaginable, the Marshall Islands also have thriving hard coral reefs without any dive crowds. There are pinnacles, drop-offs, channels and shallow coral gardens to explore, busy with colorful reef life.


The Cook Islands

When it comes to warm welcomes, it’s hard to beat the Cook Islands. From the moment you arrive, you will be drawn into one of the friendliest nations in the world and won’t want to leave.

This wonderful country is a perfect place to get your Open Water Diver certification or take your family diving. Rarotonga is the main destination for tourism and is a charming island with fresh markets, cafes, restaurants, and resorts tucked away among the palms. There are around 25 dive sites just offshore and gorgeous beaches for laid-back surface intervals.

Nearby Aitutaki has fewer visitors, yet it hosts around 22 dive sites, with many still being discovered. It is a great place to dive among remote coral-covered landscapes and forget the rest of the world exists. Whichever island you choose, the waters are warm and full of colorful reef life.


New Caledonia

New Caledonia is one of those wish-list destinations known for its spectacular diving, crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life. Unlike some remote destinations in Oceania, New Caledonia has modern infrastructure that makes it easy to explore at your pace – by car or island hopping with regular domestic flights.

There are over 100 dive sites scatted around New Caledonia, offering a tempting mix of deep drop-offs, thrilling drift dives, wrecks, and easy reef diving. Most diving is conducted at the New Caledonia Barrier Reef, a vast 1500 km-long reef that encloses a UNESCO World Heritage lagoon. Within the lagoon, you can explore coral-encrusted walls, channels, and easy dive sites in shallow waters.

New Caledonia’s extensive marine reserves ensure these dive sites are teeming with life. For the best chance to see mantas and sharks, visit from April until September.


Vanuatu

Vanuatu is the perfect place to reconnect with nature, offering untouched rainforests, natural swimming holes and excellent scuba diving.

Pristine reefs abound in Vanuatu, with many dive sites accessible simply by walking off the beach. Million Dollar Point is one of the most unique dive spots and hosts an array of machinery and equipment dumped by the US after World War II. The SS President Coolidge, a former World War II troop carrier, and the 1874 three-masted Star of Russia are excellent wrecks to dive.

The amount of marine life at Vanuatu’s dive sites is staggering. As well as rainbow-hued corals and countless reef fish, there are sea turtles, sharks, rays, and numerous pelagic fish. You can also go swimming with dugongs there.


Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, home to more than 850 known languages and hundreds of different tribes. It is unlike anywhere else in Oceania.

Along with the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea has some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world, including at Kimbe Bay. This special bay was once ranked as the most beautiful reef by National Geographic.

The nearby Witu Islands are a great place to go critter hunting and drift dive among schools of tuna and barracuda. Milne Bay is the home of muck diving and offers excellent shallow muck and reef diving with numerous critters.

There are seamounts busy with reef sharks and exciting walls at Fathers Reefs, and you can dive in the shadow of jungle-covered fjords at Tufi.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.

 

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Marine Life & Conservation

MCS call for better protection of UK’s Marine Parks

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On the 14th May the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) announced a consultation on byelaws to protect and manage 13 offshore MPAs. This follows the banning of bottom-towed fishing gear from four offshore MPAs, including Dogger Bank.

These first four byelaws – effective from 13th June 2022 – are a win for the Marine Conservation Society’s ongoing Marine UnProtected Areas campaign.

The campaign is calling for protection, at long last, of England’s offshore MPAs designated to protect the seabed which is vital for absorbing and storing carbon, buffering the effects of climate change, and supporting biodiversity.

When damaging fishing gear like bottom trawls and dredges are permitted to fish in these MPAs, the health of the planet is compromised; preventing the recovery of ecosystems already lost to decades of exploitation and limiting the seabed’s ability to store carbon and combat the effects of the climate crisis.

Today, the Marine Conservation Society is releasing new research, outlining 16 ‘critically important’ sites for protection. Half of the 16 critically important MPAs experienced disturbance (seabed trawling) on over 90% of the total ‘protected’ area.

Just 5 of the 13 proposed byelaws from the MMO are sites deemed ‘critically important’ in the Marine Conservation Society’s newest analysis.

By analysing fishing data, carbon storage potential, habitat sensitivity and MPA conservation objectives, the charity has ranked the remaining offshore sites in need of legislation from ‘critically important’ to ‘important’.

Of the sites identified as ‘critically important’, the South-West Deeps (East) Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) received the highest score of all sites, making it the most critical for protection. This site – approximately 190 km southwest of the Land’s End peninsula – has not been included in the latest consultation.

The area is vital for carbon storage and is a biodiversity hot spot, experiencing a summer plankton bloom each year bringing wildlife to the area. The Marine Conservation Society’s analysis found that, on average, the area experiences over 5,000 hours of bottom trawling each year. The site has the potential to store up to 1.7 million tonnes of organic carbon; the same amount of carbon as that emitted by over 1 million return flights from London to Sydney.

Frith Dunkley, MPA Researcher at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“Many of the sites of critical importance for protection were not initially designated for their carbon storage potential. However, this added element makes ocean protection even more vital. The huge volumes of carbon which can, and should, be stored by these vast Marine Protected Areas could be put at risk by countless hours of fishing, where vessels indiscriminately drag nets along the seabed. As we face twin climate and biodiversity crises, it’s of the utmost importance that we allow these sites to recover.”

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MPA Specialist at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “Our new analysis represents a clear path for the Government to take in protecting our seas. We’ve found 16 sites of critical importance. It’s disappointing to see that just 5 of the 13 proposed byelaws being consulted on now are those we’ve identified as critically important. The four byelaws, due to be in place from 13th June, are a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go to achieve protection of 40 sites with management measures as promised by UK Government by 2024.

Join the charity’s call for government action by signing the Marine UnProtected Areas petition, pushing for a further 16 byelaws to be put in place.

For more information, and to read the charity’s Marine UnProtected Areas report from January 2021, please visit www.mcsuk.org.

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The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

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Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

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