Post via Twitter from James Bullar MBE, Head of Nautical Studies at London Nautical School currently aboard Blue Mermaid:
Thank you Chris Livett for financially supporting this Thames Barge trip. Students are working hard on their passage planning for the night navigation exercise. This is a superb way for 16-18 year olds to experience working the tides, including at night. See all James’s Tweets here.
They also learnt about eating oysters whilst visiting West Mersea. Photos
The dive on the original Blue Mermaid was planned for Saturday 13th July and was undertaken by a team from GP Divers with support from the Maritime Volunteer Service. The dive was brought forward one day due to expected easterlies and the team joined at Brightlingsea early on Friday the 12th instead.
During a quick fetch with a northwesterly 3 to 4 to the Spitway coordinates from the most recent surveys of the wreck were entered in the GPS in preparation. The last hour of the ebb and the wind direction made an approach fairly straightforward and after a tack to drop the topsail the right side a marker buoy was dropped on the expected position and the barge then anchored nearby and to weather.
The divers descended but the ebb was still running and the depth was greater at 9m than expected. Also the visibility was a few inches even on neap tides and the first dive was stopped to be attempted again at slack water. Then an achor was laid in the surmised direction of the site and the divers moved to it and then searched again. However, the poor visibility and increasing tide meant it was not possible to positively identify the wreck. Diver Nathan said he could have been right on it and not have known.
The team returned aboard and held a ceremony of remembrance for the crew of the Blue Mermaid, placing a wreath upon the waters. The new Blue Mermaid then returned to Brightlingsea.
The view of the team was that to ensure success it would be necessary to employ sophisticated sonar imaging and a larger dive boat and this will be considered for a future attempt. More photos.