4 LSAC members drove down to Dorset on a very rainy Friday afternoon and camped at Quarr Camping Swanage. Fortunately the rain had stopped by the time they arrived so they could set up camp and cook tea.
We got up at 7:30, cooked breakfast and headed to Swanage pier just over 5 minutes away. Parking on the pier was full but all 3 of our vehicles managed to park along the side of the road near to the pier gates. We unloaded the cars and set up our kit. We soon discovered this free parking space was only available for 1 hour so two of us had to relocate to the long stay car park in Broad road which was only 0.2 miles away and £8 for all day parking. Paul was lucky enough to be the first in line to get invited to park on the pier as a space had become available, parking on the pier costs £9 a day but it was very convenient.
We had to be at the boat 30 minutes before our departure, so we loaded our kit onto the trollies and pushed them along the busy pier to where the charter boat Mary Jo was moored. Andy the skipper introduced himself and helped us load our kit onto the boat. After a covid safety brief and boat safety brief he gave us a dive brief for the wreck of the SS Kyarra which he had dived 10 days previously. We set off at 11:10 and it was about a 15 minute journey to the dive site.
The SS Kyarra which was a 6953 ton twin-screw passenger and cargo liner sunk in 1918 by a torpedo, just off Swanage. The depth of the wreck is 18 metres to top of wreck (60 feet), 30 metres to seabed (100 feet). The wreck is 126m long, broken but recognisable as a ship.
Due to cancellations we were the only 4 divers on the boat, which was nice. We arrived at the dive site early so Andy gave us an idea of how big the wreck was from above by pointing out where the bow and the stern were. Our shot line was amidships on the port side bollards. We kitted up and stood at the lift waiting for the countdown to jump in, Simon and Jane first, then he came round for second time and dropped Paul and Elaine in. We all descended together.
- Divers: Paul, Elaine
- Max Depth: 28.2 metres
- Dive Time: 44 minutes
- Water temperature: 14 degrees C
- Viz: +5 metres
- Dive Details: We were given a suggested dive planned by Andy the skipper. Paul and I decided to follow this and successfully did. We descended the shot line which was attached to bollards at midships and found ourselves right by the imposing keel of the ship which was like a tall wall to the right of us. We then swam against the current which would take us slowly towards the stern of the ship. On our way we passed the boiler and finally found the rudder of the ship. There were large shoals of fish and by the boiler itself we spotted a large beautifully coloured Cuckoo wrasse. Getting close to the stern we then turned 180 degrees and swam in slack water the length of the ship aiming to reach the bow at the end of our dive. Because visibility was quite good at five to six meters we got a really clear picture of the state of the ship which was fairly broken up but some amazing features still exist with many dark holes which we explored with our torches looking for marine life. Paul found and pointed out a lovely red lined candy striped flatworm. Keeping the keel which was very high up on the left hand side and swimming towards the bow, we found the ‘rack of ribs’ an amazing feature to our right. ( also really obvious in the video Paul took) Around this area is where we were told we could look for perfume bottles. We saw broken glass but no intact bottles this time. Apparently bottles and crockery are commonly still found on the ship. When we reached the bow of the ship, which is broken off and quite a dramatic sight, standing up on its end we stopped and agreed to end the dive ascending to the surface using the DSMB where we were picked up quickly and speedily by our skipper. A successful and interesting dive and one deserving of another as there are many undiscovered treasures still down there, I am sure!
- Divers: Simon, Jane
- Max Depth: 27.5 metres
- Dive Time: 41 minutes
- Water temperature: 13 degrees C
- Viz: 5-6 metres
- Dive Details: We followed the shot line down to the bollards and waited for Paul and Elaine, after a while when there was no sign of them we let the tide take us towards the stern. We soon saw Paul and Elaine and we explored the wreck as 2 buddy pairs together. We arrived at the stern and although there wasn’t a prop we did see a massive rudder. We headed towards the bow past the boiler and the exposed ribs, we got to the bow which has broken and sits upright. Looking inside the bow we could see a green hole at the bottom which Andy said was a good swim through but we were getting into deco time so we found a good spot to inflate the DSMB and ascended.