26 June 2011 – Gascony


I had the unusual experience of driving down to Littlehampton early on the Sunday morning through persistent drizzle, which turned into low lying mist as I got closer to the coast. It showed some signs of clearing over breakfast but we decided to leave final decision on where to dive until we reached the river mouth. The original plan was to dive the Gascony but the Mulberries would allow us to tie up to the permanent shot so that recovering divers could be done safely if the surface visibility did not improve. However, we bumped into some members of the Epsom branch and, combined with steadily improving visibility as we kitted up and prepared the boat, decided that if both boats dived the same wreck and worked together we could safely dive the Gascony.  

The journey out was over a mirror like sea and after a regulation shotting of the wreck Alex, Alan K and I went in for the first dive. Both Alex’s had their cameras so we moved fairly slowly over a small portion of the wreck in 4 to 5m visibility. Highlights included an unusually tame tompot and what looked like some pieces of engine machinery – judging by the wreck tour I think we were somewhere amidships but I’m not as well qualified as some members of the club in underwater archaeology!  

After a routine ascent and pick up Julian and Alan went in for their dive leaving me as the only boat handler on the surface for the first time. Fortunately the weather continued to clear and picking them up after their dive, in which they covered far more of the weck, was no problem.  

As the sun burnt off the rest of the mist (and my face and neck – and to think I even took sun cream with me and was determined to avoid coming home looking like I had been parboiled, best laid plans…) thoughts turned to a second dive. I had a second cylinder and Alan ‘I don’t really breathe at all’ had enough gas for a bubble so we headed to Black Ledges and enjoyed a gentle drift, seeing a lesser spotted cat shark (apparently the official name for a dogfish), huge ross coral colonies, velvet swimming crabs and a Bloody Henry starfish.  

The second dive meant we had to forgo the usual chips and so after cleaning the boat it was home time. Thanks must go to Julian for organising the day and being so patient with the ‘Learner’ drivers onboard. (AM)

Posted in Dive Diary 2011
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