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In this section you will find articles on pleasure dives that have taken place with the Blackwater Sub Aqua Unit. 

Other Archives Items can be found in the downloads section accessible here.

Fine weather brings a period of intensive diving

The fine weather of the past two weeks has seen a huge period of intensive diving with diving taking part in many different places including Ardmore, Oysterhaven, Ferrypoint and Cork harbour; as well the river Blackwater.

A small contingent also travelled to Smerwick in Kerry last weekend to prepare for the leading diver exam in September, where Finbarr Mulcahy is sitting the exam. The flat calm seas gave idyllic diving conditions with many of the divers proclaiming it the best scenic diving they have had; hopefully it will last for a good period of the summer.

                         Noel Hayes Instructor with Barry Murphy Club Trainee
Work continued last week on the club project to build an ornate stonewall incorporating archaeological and historic items taken from the river Blackwater. Eamon Neligan is doing a fantastic job with the stonework and the axles and headstone are now almost all ready to be installed in the wall. Thanks also to Moss Carroll and George Goggin for power washing the headstone last week.

For details of dive training over the next few weeks contact the
diving officer for details. For anyone interested on learning more about scuba diving or club activities have a look at www.blackwatersubaqua.ie

Diving the Feltria with Blackwater Sub Aqua club

In flat calm seas with blistering warm weather while dropping the grapnel anchor over the site of the ssFeltria 14 miles from Dungarvan the interruption of the dropping of the shotline by a pilot whale surfacing within 20 feet of the boat with a large exhalation after a deep dive soon reminds everyone onboard of the magnificent sights to be seen off Ireland's coastline. Indeed to get so close to one of these stunning creatures is a very rare treat especially as it swimsright under the dive boat before a large swish of its tail is a signal that it will soon disappear back to the blue abyss.

A big thanks to Fermoy open water swimming club and Eoin O Keeffe who donated the proceeds of the Martin Duggan memorial swim to the search unit

While the sea is tranquil before the dive the depth of the dive at 65 meters soon reminds everyone that this is a deep dive and even utilising mixed gas diving techniques and rebreather units each of the divers will have to do 55 minutes decompression for the 20 minute bottom time. With water temperatures still a chilly 11 degrees Celsius at the surface each of the divers would be well chilled after diving the ships bridge area and seeing sights such as the teak decking in a slow state of decay, the ships double ended boilers and slowly collapsing steel plates. At the weekend the ambient light at depth was a rare treat and allowed extensive exploration of the wreckage , with the twisted metal plates serving as a grim reminder of the futility of war and of how so many young men died at sea during both world wars so close to the Irish coastline.

An image of the Cunard line the Feltria sunk near Dungarvan and a sister ship of the Folia sunk nearby

The following account of the sinking of the Feltria is taken from Sir Edgar T Britten's autobiography an gives a good insight into the suffering experienced from those aboard a torpedoed vessel.
"On May 5th, 1917, at 7.30 pm., while en route to Avonmouth from New York, the Feltria was torpedoed without warning about eight miles south-east of Mine Head off the Irish coast. A very heavy sea was running at the time. No. 1 lifeboat was capsized during launching, and No. 4 boat had been blown to pieces by the explosion of the torpedo. Boats Nos. 2, 3, 5 and 6 were successful in clearing the vessel's side. Most of the crew were in boats 3 and 5, the Captain and Chief Steward were alone in No. 2 boat, which was also badly damaged by the explosion. No. 6 boat contained the Chief Officer, Second Officer, Purser, plus three sailors, and the submarine coming to the surface ordered this boat alongside of her. Questioning the Chief Officer as to the nature of her cargo, the submarine made off but stopped to pick up Mr. Scott, one of the Feltrias Engineers, and returned with him to the lifeboat. From the U-bloat's deck Mr. Scott was assisted back into the water, whilst Mr. Burt, the Feltria's quartermaster, very gallantly jumped into the sea and helped him to the lifeboat's side where he was pulled aboard in a very exhausted condition, while huge waves were washing over the little boat itself. Of the boat containing the Commander, Captain Price, and the Chief Steward, nothing more was seen, their lives being lost; by midnight three other members of the crew in No. 6 boat had died from exposure and exhaustion, one of the victims being Mr. Scott mentioned above. The remaining five in this boat were picked up and landed at Queenstown, but out of a crew of 69 no less than 44 lost their lives, 17 dying from terrible exposure in the lifeboats. ". The U- boat in question was UC 48 and from a German perspective was very successful with the commander Kurt Raimen receiving 5 war time decorations and sinking 57 ships with a gross tonnage of 103,443 tonnes and damaging a further 6 ships which limped back to shore damaged.

A grave of one of the sailors who perished on the Feltria in world war one, the headstone is located in Cobh

In the good weather continues in the coming weeks hopefully there will be further offshore dives before the inevitable weather march, contact Finbarr Mulcahy for further details as Finbarr is acting DOD for the next 6 weeks. For anyone interested in learning more about the club or the search unit check out www.blackwatersubaquaclub.ie

Archaeological inspection dive at Fermoy bridge reveals interesting insight into Fermoys History

Last year a number of very old timbers were found in the proximity of Fermoy town bridge and as they were very old, the find once uncovered had to be reported to the national museum. The current town bridge
dates from 1864 ,shortly after the Irish famine had devastated the area; however the Cistercians had built the first weir in 1301 and the river had been crossed in this area since at least then. In 1626 the first bridge was built with 800 tons of timber by Richard Boyle the great earl of Cork, but it only lasted two years before being
destroyed by a flood in 1628. A large stone bridge was built in 1687 and that remained until the current bridge was built in the mid 1800's.

The timber remnants at 9 inch thick square are quite substantial but the only way to accurately date the timbers as to whether they were part of the original timber bridge or construction timbers or from the later builds was through archaeological inspectionand possibly dendrochronology. On Friday evening last all the timbers were dived by Jimmy Lenehan an underwater archaeologist from Kilkenny along with Timmy Carey who looked at all the timbers. If the timbers were oak then it would be possible to get them exactly dated using dendrochronology in Queens University Belfast in consultation with thenational museum. After the dive Jimmy thinks the timbers are pine and most probably construction timbers although to be definitive a sample
will need to be taken and permission will have to be got from the museum for this to take place and hopefully we will be able to tell one way or the other in the coming months.

One very interesting aspect of the dive was that while doing somegentle wafting near one of the bridge timbers a very old oyster shell was uncovered, this had always puzzled local divers as oysters do not live in freshwater and Jimmy was able to shed light on this. In medieval timbers (from the 4th to the 15th century) poor people inland used to eat oysters as a food source as they lasted a good length of time being transported inland. While someone could always ask could
the oyster shells have been dumped in the river in recent times, this was ruled out as the shell shows huge signs of water damage from flowing water near the bridge and Jimmy was very sure that this type of find is very common inland in Ireland in medieval settlements. Hopefully we will have further information on the bridge timbers in the coming weeks following consultation with the national museum.
Thanks to everyone who helped to clean up and paint all the railway axles in over the past week, they will be installed on the promenade in the next few weeks in what promises to be a project that will greatly enhance the aesthetics of the area.

Congratulations to Mike O Grady who became the first of this years trainee divers to pass his diver one star exam in Cork harbour at the weekend, well done Mike. No doubt we will have 4 more newly qualified one star divers shortly if they get the dives logged.         


                             Finbarr Murphy  instructor, Mike O Grady 1 Star and Matt Culloty Training Officer