FreeDiving Days Sailing Ship Special

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Departing from Mylor Yacht Harbour, near Falmouth, at 10:00, the boat heads east. Arriving at our first site, the sailing vessel (sv) Hera Wreck (18m high water springs, 13m low water springs) around 10:30. The wreck was a steel four masted sailing barque, that sank in 1914 after hitting the Whelps rocks off of Gull Rock, a small island. A shot line will be dropped on the shallowest part of the wreck, a large frame work which is the remains of the bow. The top of this framework is around 4m off of the seabed, making the top as shallow as 9m at low water. read more →

Hera Wreck

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The Hera was a 4 mast 280ft long steel barque, that foundered in rough weather on the 30th January 1914. Her cargo was 30,000 British Pounds worth of nitrate from Chile, a valuable cargo for the time. When it sank in 15-18m only her masts and rigging remained above water, the crew were clinging to the wet ropes for their lives. With one whistle between them, they passed it along and blew in turn until the Falmouth lifeboat, guided by the whistle rescued the survivors. read more →

Hera bouts

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Back again

Our usual Friday night dive found us back on the Hera again. It was by Colin’s request as it was going to be his wife’s first boat dive, at least the Hera is quite shallow and very pretty, normally.

We left the quay at 6pm with most of the usual suspects. The weather had been a little windier than normal and the sea was not as flat as our previous visits. But, this was counterbalanced by Ben’s diving attire, which took our minds off the conditions. Ben had decided that he was going to do it the ‘Man’s Way’, old two hose regulator, 2 piece semi dry with a beaver tail top, old fashioned mask, knife, backplate, alloy cylinder, the oldest fins he had and no BCD. He looked like Jacques Cousteau, if the suit had been black with a yellow stripe he could have been his twin. He had used this equipment before, in a quarry!

We arrived at the site and I jumped in as soon as the shot entered the water. During my descent I noticed that the visibility didn’t look as good as before, typical, as I had planned to try and get a good wide angle shot of the ‘A’ frame I keep mentioning, hopefully with all the Plumose Anemones out. It wasn’t looking good. As I reached the bottom I could make out the ‘A’ frame, but only just, the visibility was quite bad and the current was running, which we expected. Normally all the Anemones come out when the current runs, for some reason they were all closed, so not only could I not get a descent picture of the ‘A’ frame, I couldn’t get on of the Anemones either.

As I sat at the bottom I tried to get shots of the divers as they arrived, but again the vis wasn’t good enough. I managed to get around the wreck, but without too many photos. I then headed towards the other part of the wreck, its in a north easterly direction from the ‘A’ frame, but decided that it wasn’t going to be any good for photography, apart from Ben’s ‘Man’s diving’ setup and headed back to the ‘A’ frame area. I then switched to macro to photograph the anemones that were out around the ‘A’ frame, gradually watching the other divers return to the shot and make their ascents. Eventually I decided I had had enough and made my way up.

The only thing I did notice on this dive, that I haven’t noticed before, was the fact there was some live Maerl around the site, I had seen the dead Maerl before, but there was quite a bit of live Maerl this time.

Hera Again

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29 July 2007

The biggest problem with doing so many dives and getting onto any boat that is going out, is that you will be revisiting things you have already done quite recently.

This was my fourth visit to the Hera this year! And I must admit as I get to know it better, the more I like it.

It was one of our Friday night jaunts out on Bay Marine’s Redeemer. Leaving the quay at 6pm as usual, we headed straight out to the Hera. As we started to leave the Carrick Roads, the wide part of the Fal estuary, we spotted some Basking Sharks swimming around. Shaun slowed the boat down for us to get a good look, we counted 4 different sharks in total. We hung around for a little while just looking and admiring these huge fish before we carried on.

I thought it was best if I jumped in first this time, I always come out last, and thought it would give everyone time to kit up at their leisure. Colin was also teaching part of a course and needed to talk to some of the students before they went in. Just before we were ready to jump in a small Sunfish was spotted near the surface, but as soon as we got close it disappeared under the water, typical.

Shaun had once again dropped the shotline onto the large ‘A’ frame, I am not sure what this actually is, it maybe part of a crane structure or the remains of a bulkhead, but it is covered in life. A few of us wanted to explore the other part of the Hera, from what everyone remembered the other part was north of the ‘A’ frame, it wasn’t, so we came back. I then started taking a few photo’s around the wreck when I saw a light in the distance, possibly south-east of the ‘A’ frame I didn’t take a bearing, so I went to see what part of the wreck they were on.

As I got close I recognised that this was the other part we were looking for earlier, two divers were rummaging around looking for anything interesting, I found part of a hair brush and part of a broom! Nothing of note. I then carried on around this section, which is probably more interesting than the part with the ‘A’ frame. There are some big pieces that stick up, and areas you can swim under, although most are a bit tight. There is a large amount of anemones and corals of different types, including a Red Finger soft coral inside part of the wreck.

I continued my recon. of the wreck until I looked at my watch and it said I had been down for 75 minutes, about time I headed to the shotline. On the way back a medium sized blue Jellyfish was making it’s way, just at the right place for a photo.

I went back to the ‘A’ frame, headed up the shotline and reached the surface after 80 minutes. I was still the last one on the boat.

A Day Trip Out of Falmouth

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29 May 2006

Cancelled Trip

Finally the weather was improving and our hopes of getting in some more diving were looking promising. Shaun’s boat ‘Redeemer’ had been booked by a group of divers who were going to have to travel a fair distance for a long weekend out of Penzance, but the weather forecast had forced them to cancel.

This was bad news for Shaun, but good news for us. He had managed to get a couple of people wanting to do some diving on Sunday, so we decided that we were going to tag along. The dives were going to be a drift dive over ‘The Bizzies’, a long reef system, and a return to the wreck of the Hera.

Bizzie Drifting

Low water slack was a few hours away, so our first dive was going to be a drift dive over a reef system called The Bizzies. We entered the water a couple of hundred metres up current of some of the larger pinnacles, then descended down the shot line to get ourselves sorted before flying off. Buoyancy sorted and off we went.

The Bizzies is a series of gullies, ridges and pinnacles, covered mainly with the soft coral Dead Man’s Fingers. There was also a large amount of the hard coral Sea Fans, the soft coral Red Fingers and the bryozoan ‘Ross Coral’. Between the corals were a large amount of Sea Cucumbers, Urchins, Sea Stars and Spiny Starfish. After ten minutes we all sent up our surface marker buoys so Shaun knew where we were and could follow. During the dive I came across three large Dogfish that were rather camera shy, but apart from loads of very small juvenile fish there wasn’t a lot of fish life.

The current was moving fairly quickly and I had to manoeuvre myself around some of the pinnacles as the current was hurling me towards them. Every now and then I found a little shelter in a gully or behind one of the pinnacles, trying to get a closer look, but even then it was a struggle to stay still. The tallest pinnacle was probably around 10m tall, rising up from the 25m sea bed, again covered in dead man’s fingers and red fingers. In some of the shallower parts, around 20m, there was quite a covering of kelp, which I didn’t expect. Kelp is usually a good hiding place for wrasse and pollack, but there wasn’t much around here. It wasn’t long before it was time to surface and join everyone else.

Return to the Hera

It had been about four months since I last dived the Hera and I was happy about diving it again so soon. This time I decided to take my video camera as well as the digital still camera. It’s fun jumping in with two cameras. The last time I dived the Hera I swam through part of the wreck near the bow. This time I wanted to see if it made good viewing. I also wanted to get some better close up shots of the jewel and plumose anemones that cover the ‘A’ frame.

We entered the water at slack on low tide. Shaun had dropped the shot right on the ‘A’ frame, the most distinctive part of the wreck standing about 5m proud of the 15m deep sea floor. I started off with a few shots of the anemones on the ‘A’ frame then set off with my video camera to do the swim through the wreck.

There are some huge Pollack around the ‘A’ frame and large Ballen Wrasse are found all over the wreck, including one unfortunate individual that looked like it had got too close to a boat propeller. I made my way to the swim-through and entered the larger opening. Inside there were a few Starfish and lots of small Pollack, Bib and Whiting, as well as the odd Dead Man’s Finger. There is nothing exciting inside and the exit is a little tight. I swam around outside looking at the sea bed with its smattering of tube worms before I decided on a return trip through the wreck. At any point within the swim-through you do get to see patches of light through holes or under the edge where the wreck meets the sea bed. Just after I exited the wreck I came across two other divers, so I showed them the entrance to the swim-through, then swam back around in the opposite direction.

All over the wreck there is a lot of fish life; Ballen or Cuckoo Wrasse, Pollack and Whiting. As I reached the ‘A’ frame again I got the still camera out and started to get some photos of the abundant anemones that cover it; Jewel Anemones in red, orange, yellow and green as well as orange, white and green Plumose Anemones. A photographers heaven.

As I neared the end of my dive I saw a Tompot Blenny watching me, so I got a shot of him too. After 75 minutes of a very enjoyable and successful dive I surfaced with a big smile.