SEAHORSE 2009

SEAHORSE 2009

Our first diving on SeaHorse aroused interests among many people in Sweden.

Throughout these 12 months, many meetings were held, aimed at identification of the wreck and determination of further plans.

As early as in 2008 everyone knew that we would dive at it again. 2 dates were agreed, 12-13 and 19-20 September 2009. And between these weekends we were to dive, in a smaller group on Aland Islands.

I booked a ferry ticket in great advance, when it turned out that the first date was out of the question. So I went straightaway to Aland. I stayed at my friend’s – Christian’s – who lived on the island and ran a seasonal cafe in the lighthouse

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Lighthouse “from the inside”

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We had at our disposal a RIB and many wrecks around. Christian had been gathering new items to examine throughout winter. At the beginning, we dived at the wreck of s/s Balder.

This is a small sailing ship which sank at the beginning of the 20th century at the depth of 63 m

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But our goal was to dive on new positions.

During World War I to the south of Aland, mine fields were placed, and they were entered, among others, by the Soviet boat which sank along with the whole crew. Swedes have been looking for its for a long time. Areas of the former mine field are located 20 miles to the south of the capital of Aland, and the depth there reaches 150 m, so not everyone wants to go there.

We had 3 “certain” positions at 135, 115 and 108 m. We started preparations for diving on the most shallow wreck.

The next day, also Michael Bergstrom from Sweden arrived, we made a test dive on the best known wreck of Aland, s/s Plus.

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Everyone had something to test.

I was supposed to take the camera with me. Nominally, the casing reaches 60 m, I used it to take photos at 87 m, but never before had I gone with a camera below 100 m!

On 5 September the weather was just perfect from morning, we started our day from measuring a 120 metre rope

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We were to be accompanied by 2 divers. Unfortunately, one of them had some classes at school at 3:00 p.m., so we had to wait;-)

Until 3:00 p.m.we packed the boat, we checked the equipment a million times and we were waiting for the school to end. Finally, Fridrik came and we could go out into the sea. The weather was unusual, very warm, and the water was smooth as on a lake – this definitely cheered us up. On our way, we watched very blurred sonar picture of “our” wreck. It could be both a sailing ship and a submarine. After 2 hours we reached our position. Sonar actually outlines “something” 😉

We start to suit up and jump in the water. On my back I have 2 x 20 litres of gas 10/70% and 3 stages, and, of course, the camera. We have 10 minutes to be at the bottom, and 5 minutes to get down there.

We swim down, it turns out that there is absolutely no current so I fall motionless, slowly gathering momentum. I adore this feeling, when I don’t know what lies at the bottom. In the fourth minute I look at left depth gauge – it shows 99 m and soon after that – 0.0, fortunately in my right hand, I have the one which keeps on counting;-)

We made it – I see a wooden railing – so it was a sailing ship, a slight stress blocks my mind. After a moment I get accustomed to the situation and I start to look around. Firstly, I see that we have placed the rope in the very centre of the wreck.

Secondly, this is not a sailing ship – it has too much rust and metal. Thirdly, the camera works – so it’s not that bad.

Christian attaches the free end of the rope to the plank. Mike starts to unwind the guardrail. I shoot pictures with a camera, not really knowing what I shoot;-)

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We don’t know why we go beyond the wreck and we swim at the external board

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We all need 3-4 minutes to get acquainted to the situation

Mike notices that we’re wasting our time and comes back

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We start to see in which part of the wreck we are, we wind the guardrail and in the 6th minute, the proper dive starts. We only have 4 minutes, so I try to take as many pictures as I can

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I look at the camera screen and I see that pictures could be better, but I don’t meddle with the settings, because I’m afraid to press any button at this depth. I look around and with every second I see more and more details.

I can see that we are only a few meters away from the bridge and that at the beginning we swam in a reverse direction. Now, when it starts to get so great, we have to come back, it’s cold as hell and I see the 15th minute on my computer, so it’s time to go up.

According to plan, we go up to 75 m quite rapidly, that is 15 m per minute and there, we make the first deep stop

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At the 57th, I switch to trmx 21/35%, I unscrew the stages, and the machine starts to percolate like a hot tub. A week before the departure the machine was serviced. “That’s just great” – I think and up to the 21st m I spend my time manipulating the valve. Despite my efforts, when switching to nitrox 50%, the previous stage is blown out to zero.

The rest of deco proceeds without problems and after two hours from immersion we are again on the surface. Poking our heads out of the water, we can see the last ray of the setting sun.

It couldn’t be better. We come back to the port before midnight, discussing along the way;-)

In the morning we go to the museum in Mariehamn for a meeting, where we show our pictures. It turns out that we were probably diving at the wreck of m/s Centric which sank in this area on 26 April 1915.

During this meetings we watch the site where you can read about almost every Scandinavian wreck

http://w1.653.telia.com/~u65304182/index.html   the site is in Swedish, but using the translator, you can understand it a little bit better.

After this meeting, we are almost sure that this is Centric. Unfortunately, the next 2 days are windy and rainy, so we stay home, and then we set off to Stockholm to go to Sea Horse according to plan.

The weather for the weekend seems great. We meet in the same group as a year ago and we start to pack the gear to the old PAGI boat

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This time, we have specific tasks to be performed.

Firstly, we have put beacons next to the wreck, so we prepare a rope and anchors for launching

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In addition, we are after the meeting with archaeologists who are already almost sure that this is a wreck of the Swedish mail ship from the 17th century and who expect specific effects from us. we have to film this wreck in sequences.

This means swimming 1 meter over the wreck from board to board, filming it entirely. We also have to film the anchors and check the bottom around the wreck, because it is still unknown what happened to the cannons.

I find out that I cannot take the camera for this diving. Today, we are to make films and tomorrow – take pictures, I do not agree to this, I believe that we can do both during this diving. But I can’t change this decision. I am assigned the role of the lighting operator and the cameraman’s supervisor. We enter the water, the plan is the same as a year ago,10 minutes at the bottom, the whole dive will take 120 minutes.

we fall down, suddenly at the 80th metre, visibility drops to 0.5, I have to go to the rope, not to get lost; after a moment the water becomes really clear, I look around and I can’t believe my eyes – I see some 25 m ahead;-) But it’s definitely to light, something is not right.

It starts to get kinda weird – bright and very cozy. I look up and I get it now, the masts of the wreck are covered by a layer of milky-white water like in clouds, and this layer is so thick that it reflects our lights like a screen, causing the wreck to be unusually bright. I have never seen anything like that. The depth gauge shows 104 m and I feel as if at shallow diving somewhere in warm waters.

I’ll never forgive Anders that he did not let me take the camera;-)

It turns out that I was right and the cameraman did not need my help at all, so I go on “a tour” around the wreck, I have seen the film from the previous diving about 20 times, so I know this wreck inside out. Just like a year ago, I’m surprised by a small quantity of sludge at the wreck, everything is covered only by a 5 cm layer of coating, each equipment element can be seen very clearly. There is so much of it that it is difficult to remember it all, I reach the bow and I see Anders filming the wreck at the stern (some 25 m) without problems – incredible;-)

We all feel great and all we know that we participate in something extraordinary. Eventually, we even get in the wreck from the side of the stern, watching and filming the scattered equipment. According to the indications of archaeologists, we are not allowed to even touch anything.

And a big wooden box is tempting us to open it;-)

It is so great, that we prolong our stay at the bottom at 3 minutes – this will cost us additional 15 minutes of deco. At one of the deep stops, somewhere around the 60th m I see 2 green lights away.

They move slowly towards us…????

I was quite petrified, before I understood, that the guys up there were testing a new ROV ;-))

After reaching the boat we say how it was, but no words can describe what we experienced.  The next pair goes inro the water

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We are relaxed now – they are nervous and focused before a deep dive

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Their task is to film a the bow part and anchors, because their shape is to ultimately determine the country of origin.

After 2 hours, they are on surface, in the evening, we decide to come back to the port, because the weather for tomorrow is going to be bad. I can’t stand this decision and I go to sleep. At night Anders wakes me up for my watch and soon after that, I stand on the bridge, alone and sleepy.

We go at the speed of 8 knt, I look at the computer screen to calculate our distance from the bank and from the first rocks. Suddenly, the computer screen blinked and went off….

It couldn’t be much worse, it got black all aroung and the lights of the bank were glowing far away.

Now I didn’t know where I was and where I should go;-) I started to manipulate all the cables and the computer restarted. The first thing that I saw on the screen was Google 😉

Well, at least I have the Internet 😉

Until the end of my watch, I didn’t manage to set up the program and I headed on, guided by my memory, to the shore, hoping that the nearest rocks were at the lights and that I will not cause the appearance of yet another shipwreck on Swedish waters.

After an hour, Anderas came to the bridge (the one with a long beard) and until the port I observed him maneuvre among small islands, using only navigation signs, sometimes we went ca. 10 m from the rocks – now I understand where all those wrecks came from 😉

In the morning the weather was of course beautiful, and the boys, not to lose their face, suggested diving on an unknown position and thus, I dived on a nice sailing boat whose name I do not know up to this day

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It was quite cool, but being aware, that the we could have done much more at SeaHorsie kept me restless.

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