Divers to map shipwrecks off the Yorkshire coast

Members of the Scarborough scuba diving team who will take part in a shipwreck survey (standing) San

Members of the Scarborough scuba diving team who will take part in a shipwreck survey (standing) Sandra Laverack, Anne Morrison, Heath Samples, Duane Jackson and Iain Scott. (Front row) Tony Snelson, Stu Law, Ian Abraham, Sara Flowers and Mick Lawson - Credit: Keith Meatheringham / Dobson Age

A major underwater shipwreck survey is to be carried out by a team of Scarborough scuba divers.

The ambitious project by members of the newly-formed South Bay SCUBA Scarborough branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC)includes about 20 shipwrecks between Flamborough and Whitby and will map and record their exact positions.

Among the shipwrecks are three which have yet to be identified and the project will also explore the tragic tale of the fishing trawler Skegness which sank in September 1935 with the loss of all 11 crew men aboard. There will also be an exploratory dive on the British merchant steamer, the Ella Sayer, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in April 1918.

The survey has been made possible thanks to a £1,150 grant from the BSAC Jubilee Trust which was set up almost 40 years ago to financially support the organisation’s clubs with a variety of interesting and worthwhile scuba diving projects. News of the grant came after club members recently won a £10,000 Sport England grant which they have used to buy the club’s own Mitchell 31 dive boat.

One of the founding members of the club is Anne Morrison, 62, who is also treasurer and membership secretary and gained the grant from the Jubilee Trust. Anne said: ‘I’m really grateful to BSAC for the Jubilee Trust grant which means we can look at the size of the wrecks along this stretch of coast. Some of these wrecks are quite well dived while others are only visited on very rare occasions.

‘We want to record any notable features, the size of the wrecks, their position, orientation and condition.

‘All the information will be carefully recorded and given, together with any photography and video we obtain, to Scarborough’s Maritime Heritage Group and used to enhance a display they are putting together later in the year.’

Anne added: ‘I think it’s a good time to start the survey as last year’s winter’s storms really churned up the sea. There has been so much movement of sand on the seabed and there are a lot of things that have been uncovered, features that were previously buried beneath the seabed.’

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The scuba diving club was formed in July last year with a few regular divers from Scarborough, who had friends all over the north of England.

‘We wanted to form a BSAC branch that scuba divers could join and be included in as well as being part of a branch in their home town,’ said Anne.

‘As we are based in a seaside town, scuba divers want to come here and dive with us. What we have done is form a club that facilitates that kind of membership.

‘And we are absolutely amazed at how well it has gone. We already have 82 very active members made up of people from all walks of life with one thing in common – a love of scuba diving.

‘It really is a friendly club and we have members from as far afield as Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, Huddersfield, Newcastle and elsewhere. We want to ensure everyone can enjoy the amazing diving we have here right on our doorstep. We also have a very busy dive calendar and try to arrange a monthly trip right through the winter so we can all meet up.

‘We have been to Scotland, Cornwall as well as local dives and we have trips planned to Spain and the Red Sea. And in August we are going to Scotland looking for basking sharks around Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull and Coll.’ The club meets at the Golden Ball pub on Scarborough seafront every Wednesday evening.

The British Sub-Aqua Club is the UK’s governing body for scuba diving and has 30,000 members. The organisation has 120 dive centres and 1,000 plus family friendly and sociable branch clubs, run by volunteers, all around the UK and abroad, who can support with both scuba diving and snorkelling training.

The Duke of Cambridge has recently taken over from his father, Prince Charles, as BSAC president and is keen to inspire more young people to take up the sport.

It works to ensure the safety and highest possible training for its members and welcomes those who have trained with other agencies.

Learn more about South Bay SCUBA Scarborough Club at southbayscuba.co.uk and the BSAC at bsac.com

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