Day 1 - Sat 16 Aug
Well done to everyone who took part yesterday and in particular Mark Rayiru who managed the day superbly. The first challenge was that the slip was a foot deep in shingle from the recent windy spell... Lots of kicking and pushing of stones around and some rubber matting meant that Martin could finally drive the trailer down the slip where we successfully launched the Rhib. Some time was lost as a result but we managed to get back on track. Thanks to Trevor for helming the boat and setting up the lines for us to survey the first site.
Our initial exercise was to search an area looking for a 'whale float' as described in the Dive Sussex (Book of lies). This was a real exercise of team work whereby 4 pairs of divers drifted to search an area 20m across for a length of 80m of seabed. The must discussed theory worked well in practice and although we did not find the intended wreck target we did see a lovely large plaice about 50cm long. All gained some valuable experience of this search technique which may be useful in the future.
Our 2nd task was to dive the 'Crumbly Mulberry'. Thanks to some time spent on the boat looking for sites we were fairly confident that we had located it on our sonar. We successfully shotted the wreck and spent just under an hour swimming round the mini mulberry. A lot of tangled steel and broken concrete. There's a small wall with dead men's' fingers, conger eel and shoals of young bib, Ballan wrasse and two spotted gobies. It was a light and colourful site - good slack water and vis 3-4m. John and Neil took measurements, Mark and Ed sketched and got lost, Jim and Malcolm had a 90m swim off site to look for more adventure!
Max depth 7m! we managed 2 dives totalling 75mins on a single 12L tank and still came out with 90bar!
Sunday 17 Aug
Weather unsuitable for diving
Monday 18 Aug
No diving while SSAC members attended the funeral of a well-loved and respected buddy, Dave Gilbert. RIP
Day 2 - Tue 19 Aug
Nice day but wind picked up during the day.
Dive 1 - We set out to dive an unidentified obstruction - Dive Sussex site no 96 with a position of 50 42'31" N 00 37' 42"W (which we converted to decimal WGS 84. Dive Sussex stated that no one had dived but likely to be Mulberry related. Described as 'tricky to find'. The closest UKHO data was 20081.
What a surprise we had! The site is a pile of rocks between 20-30cm high (granite?). At one end there appears to be a very old anchor and other structures. Some wood evident and a copper nail - head about 2cm across. We think this is an old wooden shipwreck which had lost all but its ballast and what remains of the hull beneath the seabed. May not have been carrying cargo or if it was... presume perishable. We took some photos and measurements of the anchor but visibility was poor and Martin and Ali were the only ones to find it despite only being a few metres from the shot. We had a rough guess of 12m by 6m and standing up 2m Martin thought slightly less which aligns with the UKHO data of 10x10m and 1.2m height. Certainly one for the archaeologists to examine. More detail when we've had a chance to study images.
Conclusion.... nothing to do with Mulberry! (Dive Sussex AKA 'Book of Lies')
Dive 2 - We looked for another Dive Sussex site - Page 61 Site 69. 2 Beetles? Described as 2 small concrete chambers 50 yards apart. 50 44' 09"N 00 41' 36"W. We converted these to decimal WGS84 but could not pick up anything on our echo sounder and rather than waste the opportunity to dive we changed site to the Inner Mullberry at Pagham. We had a nice dive here as this is one you can swim through from one side to the other as well as going round. There is quite a lot of metal work over to one side, may be some kind of lifting gear? We will need to study photos/drawings to have a better idea what this is. Joe Bater rescued Ed's weight belt which fell from Malcolm's hands.
Day 3 - Wed 20 Aug
Beautiful morning, light winds and mostly sunny. Sun tan lotion and hat essential (photo to follow!)
Dive 1 - Whale Bridges.
UKHO site 19988. This was our most demanding dive yet. Just over 32m and very dark/poor visibility of 1-2m. We think we found 2 whale bridge sections but this is a site we need to dive again to get our orientation and look around more. With such limited time on the site it was tricky to work out how the bridge sections were lying. One in particular showed evidence of damage but they were obviously bridge section. No obvious kite anchor but too early to say as there may be much more to the site... we just fumbled around what we did see. Some video but again hard to establish some parts. Did not see any beetles but that is not to say they are not there. Ed was delighted to successfully complete this dive which was his deepest UK dive and he was unsure how he would react in challenging conditions. He did really well and was looked after by Jim and Doug. All returned safely.
Dive 2 - Unidentified obstruction
This was something we found whilst searching for objects last week with our echo sounder. We don't think it is in Dive Sussex or has a UKHO record (though we may be wrong). This turned out to be a rectangular steel pontoon type object approx. 1.5m high and some 20m long and 8m wide. Steel construction with a criss-cross of uprights and supports throughout its length. A shallow dive (8m), plenty of light and marine life although the current was a little strong. We will get the exact measurements from John Bohea and Ed tomorrow.
All in all the survey is already proving to be a worthwhile exercise - with (as we always seem to find) some surprising results.
Weather looking a little rough tomorrow so may only get one early dive in.
Thanks again to everyone including Tom Templeton for helming the boat for us over the last 2 days. The boat is proving to be comfortable, dry and reliable and a valuable asset thanks to Dave and Martin's efforts over the last year. There are still one or two refinements to be made and work is on-going but not stopping the enjoyment of diving.