Since I watched Jacques Cousteau, wide eyed and somewhat in awe, in the ’70’s with my Father on our small Black & White television, I have been fascinated by shipwrecks. I never really put 2 & 2 together when I took that first step into Roberts Barracks pool, but it was Cousteau who started my obsession with scuba diving
It was the Thistlegorm’s Bell, flickering in the light of the divers sodium flares as the encrustation was cleaned away to reveal the wreck’s name,
that sparked, or perhaps coalesced, something in me that has never departed…….A deep and abiding connection with Shipwrecks
I spent many a weekend in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s accompanying my Father, and younger brothers Mike & Barry, around numerous Blue-Funnel ships he served on, Peleus, Patrocolous, Helenus….all names I remember well, not just as character’s in Homeric tales of Troy and the Greek Tragedies, but as massive steamships of Liverpool, the pride of Liverpool’s maritime history, docked in Vittoria and Birkenhead
I remember going deep into the ship’s bellies, down into the Engine rooms where Dad worked as an Engineering Officer, and along miles of iron & steel walkways, past vast cylinders and con-rods, around steam-pipes and donkey engines as my Father described the workings to us, the steam and diesel engine’s different cycles and operations, the transfer of power from vertical to horizontal, and, eventually rotational motion, driving through huge gearboxes and propeller shafts….
It was a kid’s dream, the memories of which are re-lived in every wreck-dive, gliding and sometimes squeezing through the same tight spaces and across the decades back into those engine and boiler rooms
Wreck Diving, of all the different types of Scuba diving, is very real time-travel, a unique opportunity to share in the history of the Ship, it’s crew and sometimes it’s cargo, its passengers and the tragic circumstances that laid her low, to the bottom of the sea.
There is nothing else like that as shipwrecks, real shipwrecks (not the sanitised, bleak, “placed attractions” desperate dive-centres litter the seas with nowadays in the name of “eco tourism”) always tell a story, often hundreds of different stories……..