Underwater party is a diamond idea

Scuba divers from across North Wales  are planning a party 60 feet below the waves on the wreck of a cargo ship that ran aground and sunk off Anglesey in 1886.

Several branches of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC), the governing body of sport diving in the UK, are joining forces to put 60 divers on one shipwreck at the same time to celebrate the organisation’s Diamond Jubilee.

The anniversary dive is being organised by Chester Sub Aqua Club which is itself celebrating a milestone as the club is 40 years old this year.

Chester Sub Aqua Club Diving Officer, Dave Parry and Club Chairman, Martin Kay, came up with the idea of having 60 divers descending onto one wreck as a way of celebrating BSAC’s 60th  birthday.

But Dave says there is no way they could conduct the event on Sunday, June 30, without the help and co-operation of other clubs across the region.

He said: “We are delighted that Flintshire, Wrexham Seals, Gwynedd and Rhosneigr Sub Aqua Clubs, as well as divers from Crewe-based Icicle Divers, have agreed to take part in what we have Christened The Diamond Dive.

“We all want to celebrate BSAC’s 60th anniversary and to have 60 divers on one wreck at the same time is something we will probably never do again. However, I have to say organising the dive has proved far harder than we ever imagined!

“We need to ensure all risk assessments are done properly and all eventualities are covered. It’s a large number to have on one wreck at one time and it will be a unique experience.”

Dave says the Chester Club’s original plan was for the clubs divers to complete 40 dives between January 1st and the end of June, which is when they believe their club was formed in 1973.

He said: “That challenge started well and we drew up a list of wrecks we wanted to visit. We did the first dive on January 4th but the weather took its toll and we began to fall behind schedule.

“So we thought why not try something really different and came up with the idea for the Diamond Dive. We work closely with the other clubs that are joining us and there is certainly no rivalry.

“Everyone got behind the scheme and has helped organise the event. We need boats, dive crew on the surface, dive leaders and safety officers as well as responsible and qualified divers to actually do the dive.

“Every diver will descend at the same time as we will set off when an air horn is sounded from one of the boats.”

Dave says the chose the wreck of a cargo ship, The Missouri, for the dive as it lies in relatively shallow water in the middle of Anglesey’s Porth Dafarch Bay.

He said: “We are lucky at Chester Sub Aqua Club to have underwater guide Chris Holden as a member. Chris has written several books on shipwrecks around the North Wales coast. It was Chris who suggested The Missouri as the perfect wreck for the dive.

“The Missouri was built in 1881 for the Furness-Warren Line. It was a steam powered vessel and was about 130 metres long. It ran aground on March 1st, 1886 and sank with no loss of life. It is the most dived and largest wreck off Anglesey.”

President of Flintshire Sub Aqua Club, Ken Oakes, says club members are delighted to join with their Chester diving colleagues for the Diamond Dive.

Ken, who has been a BSAC diver since 1973 and has held every committee post at one time or another before becoming club president two years ago, said: “It’s a brilliant idea and should be a real experience. I hope we have some decent weather, it should be quite an underwater spectacle if the visibility is good.

“Flintshire Sub Aqua Club has around 45 members of which around 25 are active divers. We train at Holywell Swimming Pool and have a busy dive programme including trips to the Isle of Man.

“I think we all want to celebrate BSAC’s Diamond Jubilee and getting together and diving on the Missouri is an ideal way to mark the anniversary doing what we do best – diving”

Steve Ellis, Wrexham Sub Aqua Club’s Training Officer, says club members were really keen to join their Chester and other colleagues in tackling the Diamond Dive.

He said: “It’s a superb idea and something we really wanted to support. It will definitely be a unique experience and we are all really looking forward to it.

“As a club we meet every Thursday at Wrexham Waterworld between 8-9.30pm and welcome new members. We currently have around 55 members of which around 20 are active divers.”

Steve, who has 25 years experience as a BSAC diver, added: “I think we all want to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of BSAC and the Missouri dive seems a great way to do just that. Fingers crossed we get decent weather.”

Andy Heslop, the Diving Officer for Crewe-based Icicle Divers says club members are thrilled to have been asked to join the Diamond Dive adventure.

He said: “It promises to be some event and logistically very challenging. Well done to Chester Sub Aqua Club for getting so many clubs together and doing all the leg-work.

“It will be fantastic to have 60 divers all down on one shipwreck at the same time and it’s a great way to celebrate BSAC’s Diamond Jubilee.”

Chester Sub Aqua Club sport diver, Lonn Landis, an American from Pennsylvania who came to live in England through his work some 20 years ago and stayed, says he is really looking forward to the Diamond Dive.

Lonn who now manages a graphic design company, said: “I got back into diving  around 18 months ago and really enjoy being a Chester Sub Aqua Club member. I did dive around 15 years ago quite regularly but then took a few years out.

“It’s going to be some occasion having 90 divers on one wreck but it’s a fantastic way to celebrate BSAC’s Diamond Jubilee and something we are all looking forward to.”

Chester Sub Aqua Club diving couple, Anne May, 52, a Wirral Housing Benefits Officer and her partner, John Moore, 45, says they are both looking forward to diving the wreck of The Missouri.

Anne said: “We are both qualified sports divers and are working toward our dive leader qualification through BSAC. The Diamond Dive is going to be fantastic and an unforgettable experience.”

John agreed adding: “It really is a fantastic way to celebrate our governing body’s 60th birthday. We all absolutely love diving and personally I’d recommend the sport to anyone. It really is fantastic and a great way to socialise too.”

For more information for Wrexham Sub Aqua Club visit www.demonisch.co.uk/seal for Flintshire Sub Aqua Club visit www.flintsac.co.uk for Icicle Divers visit www.icicledivers.co.uk for Gwynedd Sub Aqua Club visit www.gwyneddsubaqua.org for Rhosneigr Sub Aqua Club visit www.rhosneigr.org.uk/Activities/Diving and for BSAC visit www.bsac.com

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