There are numerous dive sites and locations to choose from along the South Coast all of which are in easy reach of the Dive Club's base in Bracklesham.

 

A SHORT GUIDE TO DIVING AROUND THE CHICHESTER AREA.

 

The waters off Chichester and the Manhood Peninsular offer some of the most interesting and varied Diving in the Country. This area has something for everyone; whether you like Maritime Archaeology, Underwater Photography, Marine Biology, Wrecks or Scenic Diving, shallow or deep, murky or clear. It's all out there!

 

Wrecks

The Sussex Coast is one of the most wreck rich regions in the English Channel. Areas such as the Owers have claimed many victims over the centuries with its fierce currents and shallow banks. Treacherous seas can appear here from nowhere when the tide changes or if the weather deteriorates catching the unwary or unlucky. Offshore there are numerous wreck sites ranging from the Sailing Ship 'French Barque' as she is known locally, lying in 30m on white sand to the Menelaous, the Greek Steamer lying in 5m amongst the kelp. There are also many older wreck sites from the 17 and 1800's which are situated closer inshore in shallow water, not to mention the many more just waiting to be discovered!

 

The 1st and 2nd World War saw many casualties from both the allied and enemy forces during the two conflicts. These losses included Aeroplanes U.Boats, E.Boats, Coasters, Landing Ships and Landing Craft etc.

 

Some of the more popular 1st WW Wrecks dived by the club include:

The Brigitta, known locally as the 'Tea Pot'. This is an armed merchant ship lying in 16m of water and is a very popular Dive site with plenty to see including the large Congers in the boilers.

The Luis which is in 17m of water off Dunose Head on the Isle Of Wight had been carrying a cargo of 18lb Anti Personnel Shells for the French Battlefields when torpedoed by a U. Boat in 1918. She has been heavily salvaged for the intricate brass shell heads although some can still be found amid the wreckage.

HMS P12 , Only the stern section of this Patrol Boat remains in 20m but just look in 'Dive Wight and Hampshire' at what was recovered.

The Gascony was another U.Boat victim now upside down in 30m. She is however broken up with Gun Carriages and the inside exposed. A great dive.

World War Two saw many more losses during the six years including:

The Britsum which is very broken up in an average depth of 10m on the Pullar Bank with plenty of fish life.

HMS Prince Leopold sitting in 32m, an Infantry Landing Ship (LSI) sunk by a U.Boat in 1944. A fantastic dive with teak decking and davits still in place.

 

Ecology

The Ecological importance of this fragile area is highlighted by the fact that there are now 12 Sussex Marine SNCIs (Sights of Nature Conservation Importance) and these include: Bracklesham 'Balls' in Bracklesham Bay, The Mixon Hole off Selsey, The Inner and Outer Mulberry Units, The Waldrons and HMS Northcoats both located off Bognor.

 

Mixon Hole - Sheer clay cliff face down to 30m - the possible remains of a Roman Quarry. You never know what you might come across.

Bracklesham Balls - Stone balls of numerous shapes and sizes some of them reaching 8ft in diameter and perfectly round whilst others lie segmented or split in half. A very surreal dive.

Mulberry Units - The remains of 2nd World War floating Harbours that they were unable to re float in order to tow to France now provide a home to numerous fish, nudibranchs and crustacean. Easy to find as both are marked!

HMS Northcoats - Known locally as the 'Armed Trawler' lying upright in 26m of water. A great dive for the wreck enthusiast.

Waldrons - This area contains sandstone boulders of varying shapes and sizes with plenty of marine life. Very Scenic.

Bracklesham Bay: With shallow depths of less than 15m and very week currents it provides an ideal location for a second dive without having to wait for the next slack water. Within the Bay there are a whole variety of wrecks to dive including a Second World War Tank Landing Craft, Gunnery Targets, Wooden Sailing Vessels and a Tank! There are also two Protected Wreck Sites; the 'Hazardous' a 4th Rate Man o' War, sunk in 1706 in rough weather and the A1, the 1st of the A Class Submarines which sunk in 1911 after a short and chequered history.

Fossil Beds

Millions of years ago the Solent and the surrounding area was a river valley which was subsequently drowned. It was during this period that the sub tropical climate provided a home for Sharks, Turtles, Rays and many other creatures. The fossils of these can now be found lying in the clay deposits after being broken up by the waves and storms.

 

Shore Diving is fairly limited locally due to the gently shelving beaches and shallow water. However, the area between Selsey Lifeboat slip and the Launch ramp at East Beach does provide an ideal location for Divers.

 

Tides - These can run VERY fast round this area and as such it is essential that tide tables, charts and tidal flows are checked when planning your diving.

Nab Area & Owers:     1 Hour Before High Water and 5 Hours After High Water

Mixon Hole:                 2 Hours Before Low Water

Mulberry & lifeboat:     4 Hours Before High Water and 3 Hours After High Water

 

Launch Sites - There are a number of launch sites in the area including: East Beach Selsey which is steep but sheltered from the prevailing South Westerly winds and its free; Bracklesham Bay Car Park where there is a charge for parking in the summer and launching can be difficult with an onshore wind and high tide; Itchenor Hard where there is easy sheltered launching but you do have to pay Harbour Dues, car parking and a launching fee.

 

Air and Equipment - This can be obtained from a number of Dive Shops such as Mulberry Divers in Selsey, Solent Divers in Portsmouth or Littlehampton Dive shop in the Marina at Littlehampton. Diving Equipment can also be purchased Online from Holt Diving www.holtdiving.co.uk with a 15% Discount to Club Members.

 

As with any dive planning you can't beat local knowledge and contacting the Local Club or Dive Shop for advice is strongly advised, they will be more than happy to help.

Andy