Thorne Sub Aqua Club
Rib Dive on SS Picador – 29 metres (low water)
Low Water 9:30 (Slack Water 11:00)
Saturday 16 June 2012
Dive Report: Marcus Walker
Divers: Marcus Walker, Darren Grey, Paul Towning, Andy Keys
First dive this year on our newly repaired good as new Rib Oversee (actually on its last legs).
All met up at 8am at Hornsea Marina in what must be the worst ever dive season on the Yorkshire Coast in over a decade. After surveying the chocolate brown surf breaking up the beach and realising that we were the only fools intending to launch we quickly mustered our kits together and set off.
Launching in a doable Force 4/5 conditions did not improve the further out we travelled and we amused ourselves with the prospect of doing another wreck by touch with zero viz, black-water. After arriving at the dive site in about 30 minutes we shotted the Picador easily (slightly south of GPS marks) and sat on her waiting for slack.
The Picador is in every sense a local wreck. She is a steel hulled steam fishing-trawler built by Cook, Welton in Beverley, East Yorkshire for the Hellyer Brothers Ltd of Hull. Weighing in at 424-tons, she measures 47 metres with a beam of 7.77 metres and a draught of 4.19 metres. Powered by a 3 cylinder triple expansion and a single steel propeller the Picador's one boiler could provide 11.5 knots at full speed. Fast, but not quick enough to avoid being clobbered and sunk in thick fog by the London registered oil tanker 'San Salvador'.
The Picador was returning to Hull from the Bear Island fishing grounds, off Norway, with its 18 man crew in dense fog on 26 May 1936, when despite sounding her fog horn at the required intervals and reducing her speed she was hit by the 3,808-ton San Salvador who had not reduced speed despite the conditions. The San Salvador rammed her amidships killing the helmsman located in the wheelhouse instantly. The San Salvador searched and recovered 12 of the Picador crew but 6 lives were lost. The San Salvador faced court proceedings and were found liable for the collision though sanctions were pretty light with licenses suspended for less than a year!
After dragging the anchor back onto the wreck Darren and Andy threw themselves into the murky abyss but 40 minutes later re-appeared with dubious tales of 4 metres viz. Heartened by this over-optimistic nonsense Paul and I launched ourselves into the briny depths and descended into the pea-soup and quickly formed the opinion that our buddies had been telling fibs. However at about 22 metres the sea opened up to give us a good 5 metres of viz as the boiler greeted us standing some 4 metres proud of the sea-bed.
The swim to the almost intact stern seemed to be out of alignment with the rest of the wreck, clearly showing the impact of the collision. Most of the holds have collapsed with deck plates scattered and providing cover for the numerous crabs and lobsters (goody bag next time we return). Plenty of table fish on her too with some good size Cod and not so tasty wrasse. The holes in the boilers were filled with a number of tompot blenny. After racking up about 10 minutes of deco we ascended back up the shot-line and bounced back to Hornsea for the obligatory Sullivan's fish and chips.
An excellent dive and a substantial wreck, great for Sports Divers with surprisingly good viz given the conditions.
28 June 2012