** Under development **

July 2019: This page is currently being built. Some information may be incomplete. Where possible photos may be added too.

Planning dives often requires local knowledge, good tides and some luck with the weather. There are a number of tools which a diver can use to help make things happen in a safe manner and at the right time.

A BSAC Dive Leader and BSAC Advanced Diver will have been given some training to help plan a dive safely using things such as charts, tides and weather forecasts. Where once a diver would have been using paper charts, tide books and tuned in to the shipping forecast on Radio 4, today those tools are often electronic. With the Internet, it is often possible to get some accurate information too when it comes to tides and weather.

The reference material below may be of use to visiting divers.

Charts

Our club RHIB uses electronic charts and by for this is a great way to manage your boating needs. If you do not have access to such a system, then there are a number of ways to help plan your dives.

These best Admiralty charts for diving in our area:

  • 536 Beachy Head to Dungeness
  • 1652 Selsey Bill to Beachy Head
  • 2022 Harbours and Anchorages in the East Solent Area
  • 2037 Eastern Approaches to the Solent
  • 2045 Outer Approaches to the Solent
  • 2625 Approaches to Portsmouth
  • 3418 Langstone and Chichester Harbours

These should allow you to review the local area for hidden areas that are shallow, especially when approaching the Langstone Harbour entrance and Selsey public slip at or near low water.

Tides

In the Solent area, Portsmouth Harbour is the main reference point for any tides. Slack times are normally expressed as before or after high water Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Tide times

Selsey Bill times can be useful for shore dives off Selsey.

Selsey Bill Tide Times

Usefully, NAB Tower has its own tide times too.

Nab Tower Tide Times

For those people who prefer to use their mobile phones for the times of the tides, the following apps may be useful, but the information is often just the times and heights at ports.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.tidesnear.free

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tides-near-me/id585223877?mt=8

These free apps and many online sites will only provide tidal times up to seven days in advance. For long-term planning, it may be better to invest in a product that can provide tidal information for a much longer period.

The Admiralty Tide Calc software is one such product. Whilst it isn’t as cheap as a local tide book, it could be a valuable club purchase.

https://www.admiralty.co.uk/digital-services/admiralty-digital-publications/admiralty-totaltide

For many dive sites, we refer to various nearby tidal diamonds to help calculate slack water. These include:

SN005AD (Sandown Bay)

SN005AE (east south-east of Ventnor)

SN007D (south of Nab Tower)

SN007E (Bracklesham Bay)

SN007F (south of Selsey Bill)

SN007H (south-east of Selsey Bill)

We’ve found that SN007G tends to not be very useful for the dive sites we visit, even when they appear to be close. Often the slack water times are more accurate with either SN007F or SN007H.

There are several WW1 & WW2 U-Boats further out into the channel. There are nearby tidal diamonds that are available to help predict the respective slack water times.

Weather

As anywhere else around the British Isles, the wind is the biggest factor for calling a dive off in the Solent and surrounding area.

  • Stokes Bay
  • Southsea
  • Selsey
  • Bracklesham Bay
  • Weather Apps & websites

Easterlies or south easterlies are the worse as there is very little protection from the elements for most of the nearby dive sites from these winds. Whilst a westerly isn’t popular, there is often a chance that you’ll get some shelter from the wind in the Bracklesham Bay area.

Providing the wind isn’t too strong, diving off Selsey is normally fine with westerly to northerly winds.

Most of the boat dives are a little distance from the shore, so a limit of F4 should be observed in a RIB. Don’t forget to add some additional time for travelling to & from the dive site too as your passengers will be in for a rough ride, even in an F3. Forecasting is definitely an important tool for planning dives and there are often as many different forecasts as there are sources available for them. Please do look around at multiple sources and don’t take one single forecast as likely to be 100% correct. The links below can help but when you arrive do take a look around.

Stokes Bay

Stokes Bay (Met Office)

Stokes Bay (WeatherForecast.co.uk)

Stokes Bay Sailing Club

Southsea

Southsea (Met Office)

Southsea (Weatherforcast.co.uk)

Selsey

Selsey (Met Office)

Selsey (WeatherForecast.co.uk)

Bracklesham Bay

Bracklesham Bay (Met Office)

Bracklesham Bay (WeatherForecast.co.uk)

Weather Apps & websites (updated March 2019)

For most UK divers we don't tend to worry about things such as rain or sunshine. Although it is always nice to dive when the weather is good, it is the wind which has the greatest impact on our ability to dive safely. Heavy rain and fog can impair visibility, so must also be taken into consideration. The apps below provide some useful data for wind strength (up to 7 days). Some offer longer term forecasts for a fee. In practice such long-term forecasting is often changeable and therefore isn't generally relied upon.

Some of the apps and sites provide information on wind speed and direction in graphical terms, making if much easier to plan your diving. For example, it might be blowing a strong Westerly F4, but close in to the East side of the Isle of Wight, it is possible to gain some shelter.

MagicSeaWeed

MagicSeaWeed website

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.phonegap.MSWMobile

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/msw-surf-forecast/id322103952?mt=8

Météo Marine

Marine Weather website

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lachainemeteo.marine.androidapp&hl=en_GB

https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/la-chaine-meteo/id324565014?mt=8

Met Office Weather app

Met Office website

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.gov.metoffice.weather.android

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/met-office-weather-forecast/id1068146838?mt=8

PredictWind Marine Forecasts (registration required)

Predict Wind website

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.predictwind.mobile.android&rdid=com.predictwind.mobile.android

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/predictwind-marine-forecasts/id477048487?mt=8

Yachting Weather

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.esirion.yachtingweather

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/yachting-weather/id371339359