After our last Coronation wreck weekend, 15/16th January, was cancelled due to the strong winds we were automatically put onto the next Coronation trip on Top Gun. We arrived at Mountbatten on another a cold and windy Saturday morning. The first days dive order was the James Eagan Layne followed by the Coronation. Mark, one of the licensees, met us on the boat and gave us a briefing before we left.
We headed out to the JEL and the shot line was dropped near the bow. Before we entered I had already decided to stay off the main part of the JEL wreck to start with. We would head down the port side to see all the bits that had fallen off over the years. As we descended to the wreck the visibility looked good but as we swam around the bow and down the port side it was even better. We swam all the way down the port side past all sorts of things until we reached the stern section, which is off to the port side just away from the stern. The visibility around the stern section was very good so we stayed there for a while. We then made our way back up through the wreck to the shot line.
After copious amounts of pasties, chocolate and tea we headed around the corner to the Coronation wreck site. The Coronation sank near Plymouth during a violent storm in 1691. She lay undiscovered until 1967 and eventually the site became a designated ‘protected wreck’. Under the protected wreck designation only the licensees and divers named on the license are allowed to dive, our names had been added to license a few weeks earlier. Gary was given precise instructions where to drop a shot line, which was close to one of the bow anchors. We all kitted up and jumped in to see the collection of cannons and anchors we were told about. Just before we reached the bottom we could see cannons, we headed to the shot which was next to a huge 5m+ anchor. I tried to remember the layout plan as best as I could remember, we managed to find several cannons and three anchors. We then drifted over the reef keeping an eye out for any new finds. I saw a cannon half buried in a small crevice but wasn’t sure if it was one of the ones on the plan, it wasn’t tagged as far as I could see. After a while we decided to ascend. The wind had picked up as forecast so a steady trip back to Mountbatten was sensible.
We dropped our empties cylinders off at the dive shop and headed to the Borringdon Arms for the night. As usual the meals were very good and everyone was pleased. The following morning the easterly winds were still quite strong. We headed back out to the wreck site and the shot was dropped. We were the last four to go in and before we managed to get in the water, the police turned up. They were checking that we had permission to dive there. They let us jump in before they checked the paperwork with the skipper. This time the current was heading in the opposite direction, I tried to follow a similar line to the previous day and managed to see a lot but never saw the half buried cannon again. I then drifted off with the current for a while before ascending. Due to the winds dive sites were going to be very restrictive, in other words, something inside the break water. We were already by the break water fort having lunch so the fort was the suggested site, several people decided not to go in. We had to wait for the tide to come in before we could get back to shore so we might as well dive rather than wait on the boat. The break water fort is a circular fort, the water around it has been used as a dumping ground by the fort occupants for years. We were dropped in close to the fort and swam to it until we could see it underwater. The visibility was two or three metres maximum but we headed off in an anti-clockwise direction. There was a lot of junk down there including a tubular tower, a large round cylinder, coke from fires, cable, pipes, engine pieces and it was all covered in fine silt. There was even a cannon down there which we were told came off the Coronation years ago. I found a few used brass shell cases, mainly .303”, that I put in my bag. After a full circle we headed to the breakwater, which wasn’t exactly exciting so we ascended.
We made our way slowly back to Mountbatten and unloaded our gear.
Overall it was another excellent weekend. More new friends, more video footage and photos of big cannons and anchors. The Coronation site is very interesting and well worth the visit. I still need a body warmer for my camera 🙂
For more information on the Coronation wreck visit – http://www.coronationwreck.co.uk/