Blackwater Sub Aqua Club was founded in 1981 and is based in the town of Fermoy in North Cork The club is affiliated to the Irish Underwater Council (Comhairle Fó-Thoinn or CFT) which was founded in 1963 and is the co-ordinating body for underwater diving clubs in Ireland. CFT is the representative body for Ireland in the World Underwater Federation (Confédération Mondiale des Activitiés Subaquatiques or CMAS). This is the world federation of national diving organisations and operates in some 80 countries on all continents.
The qualifications you receive as a member of CFT are recognised the world over
We have 40 members varying in qualification’s from Diver * to that of Instructor grade Moniteur ***
An Integral part of our club is the Blackwater Search and Recovery unit. Consisting of 26 search divers and support personnel. Further information can be obtained under Search and Rescue Section.
Matt Culloty with Dr Marc O 'Griofa N.M.C.I. Ringaskiddy Co.Cork
Last week as part of a unique initiative Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Underwater Council teamed up for an event as part of Space Week called Diving into Space which was held in the NMCI pool Ringaskiddy.
This would be an opportunity to hear from Ireland’s only Aquanaut Dr. Marc O’ Griofa who recently took part in NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations programme (NEEMO) to the bottom of the sea, where the crew evaluated tools and techniques being tested for future deep space exploration. Marc took his audience on a whirlwind adventure through the science of weightlessness and how SCUBA diving is used to train astronauts. Dr Marc Ó Gríofa (36) from Clonee, Co Meath lived some 19 metres under the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida for eight days in an undersea research station. Although he lived in sea conditions, he simulated spacecraft conditions and was able to conduct simulated spacewalks outside of their undersea habitat.
The team that Marc worked with, which included current and future N.A.S.A astronauts, built a coral farm, and carried out tests in telemedicine, epigenetics, remotely operated underwater vehicles and telomere regeneration, which will be beneficial to astronauts and future space expeditions.
Dr O’Griofa, who has worked in space research since 2006, explained to an enthralled audience, that while conditions in the research station were cramped, this is an experience that even astronauts themselves rate highly. Some of the quotes Marc said to describe his adventure "It’s mimicking procedures that they would use on the surface of an asteroid. Underwater, the astronauts are linked by an umbilical for safety reasons. I used to be one of those divers that would be with the aquanauts or astronauts linked by the umbilical. Dr O’Griofa, who worked in emergency medicine in Ireland and studied a Phd in biomedical engineering, describes working for NASA as a personal dream. He was part of the first Irish experiment on board the space shuttle and International Space Station in 2006, which dealt with a method of monitoring sleep disturbance and sleep stability in weightlessness.
Having being enthralled by Marcs’ adventures, Blackwater instructors along with other instructors then gave members of the audience a chance to experience weightlessness with a try-a-dive in the pool. 40 adults and children got to try either snorkelling or diving, and experience the weightlessness and agility needed by both Astronauts and Aquanauts. Everyone enjoyed a very special day; hopefully someday one of those children will be Irelands first Astronauts.
Eamonn O Herlihy, Peter Whelan, Alex Brown, Judith O Brien, Olan O Farrell and Catrina Mathews
Although being quite deep at almost 40 metres, the shipwreck of the Folia, only 4 miles from Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has consistently been one of the favourite and most frequented wreck dives by Blackwater Sub Aqua Club divers over the past 5 years. At over 6,000 tons, the Folia being a large ship was on her transatlantic route from New York to Avonmouth and was torpedoed by the U 53 in mid-March 1917. It was commanded by Hans Rose, which then resurfaced and and finally sank her with their deck gun. Unfortunately, it became one of the casualties of the war, ending up on the seabed with the loss of 7 out of 85 crew. Following extensive savaging, the Folia today, is well broken up and takes a large number of dives to become familiar with the wreck.
The wreck is scattered widely, but the boilers are prominent in the centre of the wreck. At the stern, the rudder can still be seen along the 12Ib gun. The Folia provides plenty of marine life around the wreck, providing a very popular habitat for conger eels. Conger eels favour very rough ground and inhabit deep-water wrecks, reefs and broken ground. In shallow waters, congers are mostly nocturnal and bottom feeders and are more than capable of catching live food.
Diving officer for the day Peter Whelan, along with club training officer Dick Vaughan, Alex Brown and coxswain Olan O Farrell started early Saturday morning and headed for Ferrypoint to make the most of a gentle south easterly F3 breeze. Descending to 38 metres, temperatures began to reduce from 17 degrees on the surface to 13 degrees with light and colour reduction to the seabed. Visibility at approximately 5 metres, investigation of the boilers and the majority of the wreck proved to be a worthwhile dive and a first for Club Diver Alex Brown.
The havoc and destruction being wreaked by German U-boats in 1917 was huge, and with further investigation showed 34 vessels off the Cork and Waterford coastlines alone were sunk.
Following a two hour surface Interval for Peter Whelan, a less shallow dive was organised by Peter to Capel Island which is located off the headland of Knockadoon, on the western tip of Youghal Bay. Divers Judith O Brien, Eamonn O Herlihy, Catriona Mathews, Peter Whelan and coxswain Olan O Farrell enjoyed a 30 minute dive. Unfortunately, the visibility wasn’t as good as the mornings dive but an enjoyable dive to complete a great day of diving. Many thanks to Peter for a great day and Olan for the tea and sandwiches!
Timmy Carey with Great Southern Sign
With sea conditions deteriorating last weekend with Force 4 to 7 winds, Blackwater diver Timmy Carey decided to examine previous year’s river dives and organised a trip to one of the three sisters, the River Suir, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.
Divers Timmy Carey, Gearoid O Looney, Alex Brown and Catrina Mathews headed off early Sunday morning to investigate the current underwater conditions under the Viaduct adjacent to Cahir Bridge. With safety checks completed, dive plan discussed, divers began a forty minute dive in three metres of water with 17 degrees temperature.
It was apparent from the beginning; the river bed had plenty of life from crayfish, brown trout, mussels and a keen-eyed kingfisher keeping an eye on Alex Brown as he surfaced. It was soon discovered while under the Viaduct (opened in 1852), Timmy Carey discovered a complete Great Southern and Western Railway sign in perfect condition. Examining the sign, a group of locals began to remember the unfortunate train disaster which occurred on 21st December, 1955.
The train concerned was a 32-wagon laden beet special from Waterford to Thurles via Limerick Junction. At the time of the accident, the Up platform (the station building side) was occupied by a mail train. The beet train was routed into the loop, but as the rear of the mail train was fouling the crossover at the Limerick end of the station, it was not possible to let the beet back out on to the main line. Instead, the points were set for the short siding which ended just before the bridge. The beet train ran through the buffers at the end of the siding at about 30-35mph causing the locomotive and 22 wagons to crash through the floor of the first span of the bridge into the River Suir below. Sadly, the driver and a fireman died in the accident.
L/R Gearoid O Looney, Timmy Carey, Alex Brown, Catrina Mathews
Also discovered during the dive, was a Doulton Lambeth ceramic ink bottle and unfortunately a damaged old cast iron CIE sign. Many thanks to Timmy Carey for organising an unexpected dive full of discovery, history and meeting the locals in Cahir.
L/R Catriona Matthews, Declan Curtain Mon1 CSAC,Pat Hurley Mon2 Army, Ken Barry, Susan Vaughan, George Goggin, Dick Vaughan D.O. Blackwater SAC
A blustery Oysterhaven was the location early Sunday morning for club secretary Kenneth Barry, to undergo his Coxswain examination after extensive period of training throughout the year. Despite Force 4 to Force 6 winds with two metre swell, Blackwater SAC member Kenneth proved high standards once again were maintained throughout a three hour extensive examination. Arriving early, BSAC dive officer Dick Vaughan, Susan Vaughan, Catrina Mathews, George Goggin and Kenneth Barry arrived early to prepare the rib and diving equipment before examination would begin.
“The candidate must take full responsibility for the launching, operation, control and recovery of the dive boat during a normal dive day, together with the dropping off, covering and recovering of divers in usual dive weather”. Patrick Hurley Mon 2 Examiner from the Diver Army Group together with Declan Curtin Mon 1 Instructor Cork SAC were well prepared to test the Blackwater SAC candidate from the start.
After launching the boat, carrying out all pre-launch checks and ensuring everyone was properly equipped to go to sea, the test was soon underway in choppy seas. Over the course of three hours, Kenneth would have to demonstrate competence in carrying out man-overboard procedures, towing and disabled craft, anchoring, high speed handling, mooring, general seamanship, reversing, turning in a tight space, compass navigation, figure of eight and U-turn manoeuvre’s both forward and reverse and most importantly picking up divers Dick, Susan and Catrina Mathews.
On completion of the practical assessment, Kenneth began his theory examination showing proficiency in chart work, tides, currents, weather forecasts, ropes and knots and finally completing his examination with knowledge of an emergency situation at sea.
All club members would like to congratulate Kenneth who is an invaluable part of the Blackwater Search and Recovery Unit and proving again, high standards of training are paramount within the club. Examiner Patrick Hurley noted also after the examination “Great to see such skill and knowledge displayed on a very testing day (the unfavourable sea conditions were a test in themselves). Kenneth is a credit to himself, his club and his Instructors”.
Annual Church Gate Collections
Members of Blackwater Search & Recovery Unit would like to thank the Fermoy community who supported our annual church gate collection last weekend. We are grateful for the tremendous support that is received from the public.