New Take for the Centenary
Scapa 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet by Innes McCartney
Appeared in DIVER October 2019
Scapa Flow tends to be held in high esteem in most divers’ minds, a mythical place of shipwrecks so vast and complicated that you need many dives to get your mind around what you see.
Seven behemoths, sunk by their own crews as a final act of defiance, now lie as testament to a lost age of rapidly evolving war machines.
A completely new take on the standard dive is found between the covers of the new book about Scapa Flow by veteran wreck-researcher Innes McCartney. Previous books have set the standards high, but by bringing together the archaeology of the fleet, history and an up-to-date description of the wrecks, a whole new side to Scapa has been uncovered.
The wrecks themselves recently had their 100th birthday, and they have changed a huge amount in the past few years alone.
They’re huge and complex, and a naked-eye survey on a dive is barely enough to keep track of the changes from year to year. Dives merge into one, and it’s easy to get mixed up as to which stern belongs to which ship.
Many people seem to think the changing of the wrecks is a bad thing, but this evolution is revealing previously hidden areas, like the unfurling of the petals of a big rusty flower.
The book is easy to navigate, with sections for each wreck logically laid out to give any reader a fantastic foundation over which to lay their dives.
Excellent use has been made of easy-to read graphics. Overlays of plans onto the 3D scans taken in previous years allow us to see exactly how the wrecks are changing and makes even the most intricate site far easier to understand.
I rely in briefings on what I refer to as signposts – features that are unmistakable and which allow divers to orientate themselves exactly before they move on to the next.
In this book these signposts are shown both in photographs and in descriptions, helping you to navigate around what might otherwise appear to be a massive tangle of bent steel in a sort of wreck-blindness made worse
by poor vis.
After all these years and so many words written about Scapa Flow, it is pleasantly surprising to read new information about the sites, and a fresh and fabulously modern take on such an important place.
Hardback, 272pp, 20x26cm, £21
Review by Helen Hadley (from Scapa liveaboard Valkyrie)