Blackwater SAC dive the Blaskets

Sep 20 2014 Posted by Office Administraton

For those of us of a certain age the very mention of the Blaskets and  Dunquinn, County Kerry will bring us back to our school days, with Peig Sayers coming to mind, and not with any fondness.  Last weekend a group of Blackwater divers dived various sites around the Blaskets, making the most of idyllic conditions. Deciding to Dive the Blaskets islands would not be taken lightly, the most westerly islands in Europe; they are a cluster of seven islands, inlets and rocks. They are exposed to swells from South East right around to the North, the South Westerly and North Westerly swells being the most serious. We experienced server condition on our last visit, the summer of 2013, we could not leave the harbour of Smerick with 5meter swells facing us. Strong tides also run in the sound, and Western passage. The 100m contour is located only 5km west of the island of Inishtearaght.

For those who arrived Friday evening, an evening dive, just off the 3 sisters, enjoyed the gullies the area is famed for, with an abundance of fish. Reports from this dive raised the level of expectation for the Saturday and Sunday dives.  Conditions Saturday could not have been any better; the flat calm seas mirrored the blue sky, with unseasonable sunshine and little or no breeze.  The first dive of the day was to a  ship wreck which stuck rocks west of Big Blasket Island. The Steamer Quebra was built 1912 by W.Gray & Sons of West Hartlepool, she measured 377.5 x53.5×25.4 ft. and grossed 4538 tons. August 1916, Bound New York for Liverpool, the Quebra changed course in order to avoid a submarine. During the night of 23rd, a mist descended and she hit rocks and sank. 34 of the crew landed on the island; however the Captain and two of the crew, who had taken to a small boat, vanished and were not found. The cargo included artillery shells, brass sheeting/rods and bars, along with watches and food.

Now resting in depths ranging from 20 to 35 meters, the shells are bountiful; we also came across 3 boilers, the engine block and the Anchor standing tall in one of the gullies. I understand the Navy cleared most of the live shells in 1984/85, but with so many shells observed, great care was taken not to touch.

Not know for our scenic diving, the “rule book” was thrown out, with 2 dives Saturday and a further 2 on Sunday, it’s little wonder what Jacques Cousteau said about the Kerry dive sites: “Some of the best diving in the world is at the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Brandon mountains” … in a landscape of exceptional beauty.  

Author Matt Culloty

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