dive brief

Epsilon Dive Brief

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Epsilon before she hit a mine
Epsilon before she hit a mine

The Epsilon detonated a mine laid on Jan 22 1917 by German submarine UC-17. On Voyage from Buenos Ayres to Amsterdam with a cargo maize. The Epsilon wreck is very broken, it was dynamited after being designated a hazard to shipping. At sometime during the 1980’s, some local divers found a large parachute mine, they persuaded the bomb squad to move the UXB to the Epsilon to help ‘open her up’. It did more than open her up.

Epsilon after she hit a mine
Epsilon after she hit a mine

What remains of the wreck are 3 boilers, 2 large and one smaller boiler and lots of twisted metal. If you head in a south west direction, away from the boilers, you head towards the stern. The stern is well broken with lots of twisted metal, with some plates standing a few metres above the sea bed. The large steering quadrant is visible amongst the broken wreckage. With resident conger eels, wrasse and pollack cruising around, it is quite a nice dive.

A Conger Eel pops it’s head out

Shotline on the Boilers – The shotline will be dropped close to the boilers. Being the centre of the wreck, you can swim in a South Westerly direction towards the stern or North East towards the bow. The wreck is very broken but you can follow parts of the wreck in either direction. The boilers themselves are quite interesting, with several resident Conger Eels.

Boilers


Shotline on the Stern – The shotline will be dropped by the highest part of the stern, it is only a couple of metres high but usually has a school of Bib around it. The area is quite flat but parts of the wreck are discernible, like the steering quadrant and the propellor. From the stern head North East for the boilers, then North East again for the Bow.

DSMBs to be deployed before leaving the sea bed, unless it has been pre-arranged to leave the shot line in.

Stanwood dive brief

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ss Stanwood

The Stanwood was a 4158 ton steamship, that had been confiscated from the Germans at the end of the Great War (WW1). It was used for carrying cargo for many years, until one day in December 1939, it went into Falmouth docks for repairs.

The are several stories about her exact final moments, my favourite is that when she was being welded, the cargo of coal caught fire. She was towed away from the harbour to the North Bank, the sea cocks were opened to scuttle her and put the fire out. The idea was that she would sit on the shallow ledge, 12m below. It would be easily re-floated. Instead on landing flat on the sea bed of the North Bank, they missed, she turned over and slid down the bank of the deep channel. Over the years, she has been heavily salvaged. Then, the remains were blown apart, she had been deemed a danger to shipping.

Stanwood masts and funnels sticking out of the water behind the warship.
Salvaging the Stanwood

We only dive the wreck on High Water slack, it needs to be slack and it’s best for visibility. The shotline is usually dropped in the middle of the wreck, between 12-18m. The site is more wreckage than wreck, it has been heavily salvaged but it is a haven for wildlife. It is not a site for wide angle photography, macro is best. Divers should make their way to the shotline and stay on the line until they reach the bottom. The area is quite silty, so try and stay off the bottom, it will ruin the visibility for everyone. Once there, there is a choice depending on your qualification. To restrict the depth, head slowly north, east or west. For greater depth, head south, criss crossing the wreck, to get to a maximum of around 30m. The wreck reaches a maximum depth of around 26m, after that the sea bed is quite flat but scallops can be found. After that, you can come back up the wreck towards the shallows, which runs out at around 8m. Continuing north, you can finish the dive on the oyster beds in around 6m. DSMB’s must be deployed before ascending.

Stanwood wreckage.
Stanwood wreckage
Sidescan image of the Stanwood
Stanwood multi beam image