BACK IN 2012, I was researching a wreck that had sunk in the Dover Straits. When I typed in the name of the ship on Facebook, I came across a whole page dedicated to it.
There was a contact for a man named Eddie Huzzey, and just one week later I found myself diving some amazing sites with him.
Every summer since then I have been invited to participate in his group’s wreck-search expeditions, the objective being to find, identify and document new wreck-sites in the straits.
The Dover Straits is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. In 1972 a two-lane system was introduced to avoid collisions, but if we study the charts of the western section there are hundreds of wreck symbols. One, however, is missing.
Tony Goodfellow, one of the group, had carefully studied the charts over the winter and had come up with a complete list with snags and foul-ground marks that we could investigate.
We set up an expedition using David Knight’s boat the Trya, which is convenient for diving operations, equipped as it is with side-scan sonar, magnetometer and a comfortable hydraulic lift.
On our first day out we were lucky enough to have flat-calm seas, which helped a lot while running lanes to search an area with the side-scan.
All electronics were on in the wheelhouse, and we stared intently at the screens while hovering over our “target”.
Nothing happened – until Tony noticed something on the bottom-sounder that could well be man-made.
With slack tide coming in it was pointless to search any longer, so we decided to hook the target and go dive it.
David was the first to dive, and when he came back up after five minutes, we were curious to see what it was he was holding. It turned out to be a large, mint-condition willow-pattern plate!
I knew that this must be an old shipwreck, and it felt like ages until I got the signal to go, and was dropped near the shotline. My first sighting as I arrived at the bottom of the shot confirmed that suspicion – it was a cannon!
On all the many wreck-dives I have done over the years, I had never seen anything like this – a virgin wooden shipwreck, which appeared to have emerged recently from a sand-dune.