Its nearly been a week since I got an email from Jools a TWSAC member asking if anyone wished to do a midweek late afternoon dive on the rib from Newhaven and as the weather looked like it was going to be great I eagerly signed up as I was already going to be in Hastings, and going by what the vis had been like on the Sunday before,hopes were high for a cracking dive.
As I had the furthest to come the decision was up to me which wreck we did and as I had never dived the Ashford the choice was easy.
The trip out on a flat sea and warm late summer sun was a real pleasure and soon we were over the wreck and waiting for slack.
Jools Rob and Justin were first in to tie off whilst Dave and I were left on the rib waiting for our turn and the warm weather made sitting around in our dry suits a little uncomfortable.
25 minutes later DSMB's popped up and we were soon helping the first 3 divers aboard and kitting up ourselves. Disappointingly the reports of the vis were not as good as I was hoping and as we were reaching the end of slack I didn't take the camera in.
Down the shot the wreck of the Ashford sits upright at about 37m she was built in 1881 and sunk in a collision with a German Barque on the 25th of June 1906 whilst carrying a cargo of coal. I had looked at John Liddiards wreck tour on the Ashford prior to the dive and the artists impression is pretty well what the wreck looks like now (good omen for the TRT wreck tour image when done) you can enter the wreck through the deck supports and pretty much swim through the wreck via the holds. The remains of the coal cargo still sit in the holds and broken plates and glass can still also be found.
During the dive I saw the biggest cod I have ever seen brush by Dave non perplexed by our presence. The vis was around 4-5m but quite grainy and as the sun was getting low, light levels on the wreck were not ideal for video without lights so just as well I had left the camera up top.
We swam the length of the wreck and also checked out the ships prop which is huge. Having planned a small bit of deco Dave was on air and I had a mix of 25% it was soon time to head but up. We had come back to the shot and decided to head back up that but the tide had turned and we were hanging like flags off the line so Dave deployed his DSMB and we drifted off, far more comfortable.
A great dive and one wreck that I will definitely want to get back to and film asap
The photo of the Ashford is courtesy of Alf Rodenby
Check out the DIVER magazine wreck tour on the Ashford here