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Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 7: Just an average day at the dive centre

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There is no such thing as a typical day at our dive centre. This day started off in a usual way, checking emails, sorting out online sales and drinking tea. Then an email arrives – “Hi, I thought you may be interested, that a piece of the wreck has been washed ashore on the far side of Dollar cove, looks like it could be a piece of rudder perhaps, I have taken photographs if you need them.”

What could I say? Except “Hi, is it still there? There was a piece washed up several years ago too. Any pics would be great”. The photos arrived, it was a big piece of timber, worth a visit to get some better photos and some measurements. I contacted our site archaeologist, David. Then another email arrives “I have a piece of broken grenade shell, that I picked up off the beach several years ago, you are welcome to it if you wanted it, let me know and I’ll dig it out”.

I tried to contact Historic England but it turns out the person I deal with was on site somewhere else, looking at a large timber that had washed ashore. Just as I was about to leave, Nick arrived. I told him we are off out, we loaded some measuring scales and the camera, I then explained what it was about en route.

The sand on most of the beach had gone, it was mainly rock now. It was easy to find the timber, it was quite large and on the shore right near the wreck. We started taking photos. We then searched up and down and Nick found a dead eye, we photographed that too. Time was limited because of the low levels of the sand, the tide came in much faster than usual.

We returned to the shop and as we arrived a car pulled up. The gentlemen came over and introduced himself as the guy who emailed me. He asked what we thought of it. We had to say we were not 17th century rudder experts. All we could say was that is was old, of the right era and it was incomplete. It would have been much bigger, although this was big and rather heavy, made from a single piece of timber. He then opened a Tesco carrier bag and showed me the grenade. This was more than a fragment, it was a grenade with a fragment missing. It’s not everyday that someone comes into the shop with a 17th century hand grenade, although nothing really surprises us nowadays.

 

I spent the rest of the afternoon on the telephone and emailing Historic England and David, our archaeologist. Trying to work out what we are gong to do next, Historic England are going to arrange a team to come and document the item properly. David and I shall return before that to see what else may be lying around.

Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at www.atlanticscuba.co.uk

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 3

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somabay

Today we are diving one of the outer reefs from an inflatable. As we reach the bottom, a reef octopus eases its way into the cover of a small crack in the coral while displaying it’s incredible ability to change colour. They are arguably one of the most charismatic of reef dwellers and it is always exciting for me to simply hover and watch. I would have spent longer and waited for it to come and investigate me, but as dive time is limited we wanted to move on and find a turtle.

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The waters around Somabay are well protected and hold a rich variety of marine life. The reef edges are thriving colonies of coral and shoaling fish, while nearer the sea bed plenty of wildlife is still to be found.

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Then we located the turtles. They are very used to divers and so show little concern when slowly approached. In fact occasionally one will come over to see what you are doing. There is always huge excitement when diving with a turtle. The shear thrill of sharing a moment with another species.

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What a fantastic way to finish a wonderful few days diving and I would like to thank SOMABAY, ORCA DIVING and THE BREAKERS for making my stay such a good one.

I had a great time, with diving everyday either on the house reef or on one of the offshore reefs by inflatable or larger day boat. Orca diving provided high quality equipment and facilities while the staff were all very friendly and welcoming. The Breakers was right on the coast with nice rooms, good food and once again friendly staff making the whole trip a real pleasure.

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Soma Bay covers an entire peninsula and is home to several resorts as well as residential  compounds.

As well as scuba diving, Somabay caters for many other sports and activities, and so is perfect for families as well as individuals and/or groups. And of course there is always time to lay peacefully on the beach under the Egyptian sun.

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Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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TRAVEL BLOG: Jeff Goodman Dives SOMABAY, Part 2

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Day three of my trip to Somabay and we were spending the day on the Lady Christina and diving on the wreck of the Salem Express.

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Diving wrecks for me is always one of mixed emotions. The excitement of diving a wreck is more than often tempered by the thought of loss of life when she sank. The Salem Express was a passenger ship and a roll-on/roll-off ferry travelling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Safaga, Egypt. Most passengers were of poor class travelling home from their holidays while around 150 people were returning home from their pilgrimage to Mecca.

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The ship struck a reef and sank within 20 minutes. Passengers were trapped below deck and the ship was filled with fear and panic.

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The wreck area is strewn with personal belongings from the crew and passengers such as a transistor radio and a flat iron for clothes. A diver at sometime has put them in a prominent place to be seen.

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Tragically only one life boat was launched while the others went down with the ship. More than 600 men, women and children lost their lives here.

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It’s a stark reminder that the sea can be unforgiving and so when we dive on such wrecks we should do so with humble regard.

Returning to the surface, shoals of fish are gathered under our boat and seem to be welcoming us back into the light.

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Back at the Breakers I sat in the dining area with a beer and a very good meal while my thoughts still remained with the day’s dive on the Salem Express.

Check in for part 3 tomorrow for Jeff’s last day of diving with Somabay on the off-shore reefs looking for turtles.

Book your next Red Sea dive adventure with SOMABAY! For more information, visit www.somabay.com.

Stay at the Breakers Diving & Surfing Lodge when you visit! For more information, visit  www.thebreakers-somabay.com.

Find out more about ORCA Dive Clubs at SOMABAY at www.orca-diveclubs.com/en/soma-bay-en.

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