29 August 2007

Meridian Divers Meeting ~ 29th August 2007

It's hard to believe that another month has passed since the last meeting! It's been a busy month, not least with planning more events! Full details of the meeting will be circulated when available but for now here are some planned dates for diaries:-

Sun 16th September - Meridian Divers BBQ (following the success of the earlier one!)

Wed 3rd October - Next Meridian Divers Meeting

Sun 14th October - Portland Dive Trip

Wed 19th December - Christmas Dinner

Sat & Sun 23rd & 24th February 2008 - NEMO 33 Trip (Brussels) (16 names for this trip)

The meeting was very well attended and it was really good to see some 'new' old faces particularly to celebrate Ernie B's EFR certificate (see photo).

Incidentally the meeting it self was something of a special occasion being almost exactly one year to the day since our first meeting at the Berwick Inn.

With all the activities that have taken place it has been a tremendous year despite the poor diving weather. We have gone from strength to strength and it looks as though we'll have plenty more on th e'to-do' list!

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (6) ~ The Truth is Out There!

Some media and other reports about the plan to sink a Frigate off the Seaford coast have been confused and misleading (see Frigate Bay Watch 5) but Meridian Divers have now established a more authoritative source on how the plan is progressing. The MD meeting of 29th August was pleased to receive a briefing on the plan and is happy to promote the project by providing the following link to the project website :-


The website is now live and will provide up to date information directly from 'the horses mouth' so to speak! This will hopefully overcome some of the inaccurate reporting.

Meridian Divers support the existing plans to provide artificial reefs at Seaford as both plans (the sink-a-frigate plan & the create a reef-of-rock plan) offer the potential of greater diving opportunities and many other benefits besides.

27 August 2007

T R Thompson Dive ~ 27th August

In diving terms it was oddly quiet at West Quay, Newhaven today (August BH Monday), time was there would be a handful of dive RIBS from a variety of clubs heading out to sea but it was strangely quiet this Bank Holiday, which given the splendid sunshine, was not what you might have expected. Still it did give us the choice of wrecks ...and we chose the T R Thompson!

The sea was very calm as we whizzed out to the wreck site in quick time. As soon as the shot line was in the water it looked like the viz would be good - and we were not disappointed! The shot landed directly on the wrecks middle line just forward of the stern. Excellent! The seabed was at 32m whilst the stern stands high above that. In clear view was the gun and steering quadrant. Having cleared the shot we swam towards the bow , passing a length of small chain (approx 4" links) , two winches , a folded (spare) Admiralty Pattern anchor and the remaining three bar railings to the boilers and engine. A truly huge edible crab was on the boliers , his pincers were two-thirds the size of my gloved hand. Whilst another boat may have taken this beast we left him to fight another day!

The viz was probably 5 to 6 metres and there was very little current giving a super dive. I was grateful for Nitrox giving me a little more time margin and it was good to know on a deeper dive such as this that all divers had ponies or twins.

After a good tour we headed back to the surface for soft drinks & choccy bics on the boat! While we had been on the wreck a small cabin cruiser had caught fire near Birling Gap and following an explosion had sunk. Luckily no-one was hurt and by the time we passed over the site the RNLI had attended and stood down.

See:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/6965708.stm

Of course we kept the time honoured traditions of the near obligatory post-dive bacon roll at the Coral Cafe where we met up with some diving chums for a chat and , of course, put the world to right!

The building works at West Quay are so advanced that it's almost hard to recognise the place and of course the developers have not finished yet. Lord knows what we'll do when we can't get a bacon roll, the Coral Cafe is a place of pilgrimage for so many!

26 August 2007

Mackerel Madness !

A couple of shots sent by a fishing friend of mine that shows Mackerel along the Eastbourne shoreline on 26th August in such numbers that they were chasing whitebait / small fry up onto the beach then getting themselves stranded as the went after them!

Click on the images to enlarge them !

23 August 2007

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (5) ~ Think of a number!

It's amazing how a simple plan can become so confusing to the media, here are extracts from three reports on the sink-a-frigate proposal :-

"British divers could soon have more modern-warship wrecks to explores, as plans are under way to sink two decommissioned vessels off Sussex".

"Anthony Fowler, owner of the Tudor Manor Hotel in Seaford, has come up with a plan to sink 12 ex-naval warships after he was inspired by a similar scheme in Plymouth".

"A navy warship will be sunk to make an underwater attraction for divers if a businessman gets his plans approved".

C'mon you reporters, is it one , two or twelve warship(s) to be sunk? Must be very frustrating trying to get a message across Tony!

21 August 2007

Meridian Divers Next Meeting ~ 29th August

The next meeting of Meridian Divers will be held at
7.30pm on Wednesday 29th August
at the Berwick Inn.
Pie, Pint and Planning all in one Place! Hope to see enthusiasts there!

Agendas have been sent out to those on the mailing list.

20 August 2007

T.R.Thompson Project Dive 8th September

A planned TRT project dive is planned for Saturday 8/09/2007.

HW 9H54 5.7m Meet time 08H00 Ropes off 09H00
Objectives for this dive will be discussed at the next group meeting on the 29th August


1. Tad
2. Chris P
3. Ernie B
4. Jim H


Please note that it is the divers responsibility to confirm with the skipper the night before whether the dive is a go or not.


18 August 2007

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (4) ~ Naval Big Gun Out!

Former First Sea Lord , Admiral Sir Jock Slater, who captained HMS Illustrious during the Falklands conflict has entered the fray and firmly nailed his colours to the mast . The Admiral said: 'A ship has a character and a history and I think it's rather sad to see one sunk '.

But the Royal Navy takes a different line when spokesman Anton Hanney said: 'Any credible approach about a way of using or disposing of a warship that is out of service we would consider.'Ships enter service, they do the job we want of them and they come to the end of their life. They don't go on forever.'

Methinks this Frigate may be a Battle Ship yet! To sink a Frigate you need to weigh it down with a lot of money!


16 August 2007

Request for Support for Proposal for Reef in Seaford Bay

Ladies and Gentlemen, some of you will recall I came along to one of your meetings earlier this year at the Berwick Inn to present a proposal for a new approach to Seaford Flood defence- in particular a reef based approach as alternative to the strategy of the last twenty years, the so called "shingle re-alignment" strategy first introduced 1987.

I am now in the process of putting together a formal proposal, I aim to place it with Seaford and Newhaven Town councils October- November. I would very much appreciate it if your club could contribute to this proposal and invite you to produce on no more than one side of A4 why a reef would be attractive from a dive perspective (opportunity for new divers, maybe a scuba opportunty for youngsters, marine life studies etc. etc.).

On a more technical front, my proposal will suggest siting the reef around 260-270 metres from the promenade which should be at around the 2 metre chart datum contour. Is there any chance a dive could be organised off say the salts recreation ground to determine what the depth is at this distance from the shore? If you would like me to meet, please let me know.

Many thanks, Jim Skinner

15 August 2007

62m Vessel Sunk for Divers!

No, not in Frigate Bay, Seaford but off the coast of Malta! We may have to send our very own Matt C over to Malta to dive the vessel and give us a report. In the meantime, as a number of Meridian Divers are soon to be passing that way on a diving trip we'll keep our eyes & ears open for tips for Tony and his local sink-a-frigate plan.


President Honours Ernie

Drew Richardson, President of Emergency First Response Corp has written to Meridian Divers to confirm that Ernie B has been awarded a RESPONDERS IN ACTION CERTIFICATE in recognition of his providing medical care to Sheila following their dive on the 9th June 2007.

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ... E R N I E

14 August 2007

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (3) ~ Show me the money!

I thought Tony's idea was to sink a Frigate to provide diving opportunities, but it may be that his plan has more linkage with another Meridian Divers guest, Jim Skinner. Jim visited us some while ago to speak on the subject of an artificial reef but his plan was to place an arc of rocks near Seaford beach. I thought Tony's idea was about creating a local HMS Scylla but it seems from his comments below that he is also thinking about protecting the shoreline, in other words 'two birds with one stone'

Tony said 'I have lived in Seaford all my life and Seaford used to have a fantastic beach with all the families down there.'I read up about artificial reefing and found out about an example of this.' The Navy has to stop pushing these ships off to different countries to get them scrapped so they have got to look at greener ways of disposing of them. All the toxins and scrap are taken out and you get an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of them which also protects the seafront.' As an artificial reef it is going to stop waves bashing against the beach and enable us to develop our seafront.' There is nowhere around here for diving like this. It could put Newhaven and Seaford on the map.'

The Leader of Seaford Town Council Jon Freeman has admitted that 'It would not be something Seaford Town Council could finance so we have looked to the Environment Agency and NCDA in the hope someone could give us a lead about how we could secure the money to do it.' While it seems like a novel, creative and imaginative plan we have to get the funding from somewhere.'

Looks like it's definately a "Show me the money!" moment at the Council . Tony has got his work cut-out! He may also finding himself competing for the same money that Jim is chasing.

Good luck guys!

13 August 2007

Brisbane Dive Sunday the 12th August

It seems most of you were away or busy on Sunday but a good diving day beckoned me down to Newhaven.

As there were only 2 of us we hopped on Newhaven hard boat Sea Breeze for the short trip out to the old favourite The Brisbane.

On arriving there were 2 other dive boats over the wreck which both had shots down so we didnt need to put on down ourselves. with only 5 divers on board kitting up was easy with loads of space. Alan and me were first in and straight down to the wreck.

Viz was a respectable 5-6m with plenty of light so only needed torches to look into the holes.
The Brisbane is full of life a veritable fish soup of all varieties and sizes and they were not shy.

Working our way along the wreck there were some very large edible crabs, congers and lobsters all claiming a piece of this grand old lady as their home.

The bow is by far the most impressive part of the wreck standing at least 6-7m up from the sea bed and in these conditions a photographers dream with huge shoals of bib and pollock riding the imaginary bow wave.

It was all over far to soon and we sent up the DSMB to be greeted by Mick, skipper of Sea breeze and a hot coffee, cakes and scones, plus 5 very satisfied divers.

Dive statistics

Max depth 25m
Total dive time 39 minutes
water temp 19.c on the bottom
sea conditions slight
wind light SW (which had increased on surfacing)


10 August 2007

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (2)

The BBC reports today (10th August) "A scheme to sink a retired Royal Navy frigate off Sussex to create an artificial reef gets a cautious welcome. " And that Seaford Town Council agreed on Thursday to refer the scheme to the Environment Agency and Newhaven Economic Partnership for their views.

The Town Council said it could not afford to fund the feasibility study, which would cost between £50,000 and £70,000 but said other agencies may wish to become involved.


Some interesting views also expressed in the The Argus :-


09 August 2007

Newhaven Arm / West Beach Dive ~ Friday 24th August

Simon T has kindly drawn attention to a dive posted in the Yorkshire Divers Forum that is planned for Friday 24th August on the Newhaven Harbour West Arm :-


Looks like some old Newhaven faces / Meridian Divers might be making up the numbers so thought it was worth posting the link here.

Sink One 4 Seaford Project (1)

BBC South East Today news (9th August) carried the story of Tony Fowler's plans to sink a Frigate off the coast of Seaford. It's a fascinating idea and it's very encouraging to see Tony making the 'headlines' , when he spoke about it over a drink at the end of the Meridian Divers back in June he was very upbeat and it's great to see he has attracted some attention for the plan.

Seaford Town Council, meeting this evening (9th Aug) will be discussing the idea . Their Agenda Item No.9 states "To consider a request from a Seaford resident to create an artificial reef in Seaford Bay by the scuttling of ex naval warships" (Report No 46/07).

The BBC reported that the Town Council will looking for a local group to pursue the idea. I am fairly sure (but stand to be corrected) that a decision to sink a vessel off Seaford is not within the authority of a Town Council, but it does generate interest! It is certainly an ambitious plan that no doubt a lot of divers will be watching and because that's the case it will be a project that the blog will monitor.

A sunken Frigate would be a major attraction in the area and there are already indications that divers who usually only get wet in warmer regions would make an exception and be tempted to dip a toe into UK waters. Of course with no current shortage of wrecks locally we might wonder what these divers are waiting for ...but what the heck ... the more the merrier!

Best wishes to Tony and fingers crossed for early progress with the Council.

08 August 2007

Dive Trip Planning ~ Expressions of Interest

This post is intended to assess the preliminary level interest in two undated / uncosted dive trips. If you interested in principle let me know. No obligation at this stage purely seeing if the potential is there!

A. NEMO 33 Brussels
Illustrative plan: Travel over by car ( & Tunnel) on a Saturday, visit the 33m indoor pool 'Nemo 33' do about an hours diving (one dive) , all kit provided by Centre except swimming trunks & mask/snorkel. Then meal out on Saturday night . Bed & Breakfast , free time on Sunday morning and back to Blighty later that day. Or another combination of that!

1. Deborah M
2. Alan M
3. Chris P
4. Sue P
5. Tad
6. Sheila B
7. Ernie B
8. Simon T
9. Therese S
10. Linda T
11. Mandy G
12. Paul G
13. Sara
14. Debs
15. Debbie
16. Stuart

B. Portland
Day Trip to Portland to dive the wrecks inshore or in the Harbour. Either a Saturday or Sunday . Probably two boat dives. Probably in September or early October.

1. Chris P
2. Trekker
3. Ernie B
4. Simon T
5. Matt W
6. Therese S
7. Jim H

07 August 2007

Littlehampton Dive Trip ~ 2nd September

More good news! I have confirmed our booking of Copperhead II for two dives on Sunday 2nd September. The following divers are booked onto the trip:-

1. Chris P
2. Ernie B
3. Simon T
4. Matt W
5. Mandy G
6. Paul G
7. Andy N
8. Jim H

Full details of meeting & ropes-off times to follow with information on the two dive sites (1xWreck & 1xReef)

05 August 2007

Outstanding Diving & BBQ !

The Meridian Divers Beach Dive and BBQ at West Beach, Newhaven was an outstanding success! The event was attended by nearly thirty people and many of the divers took advantage of flat blue seas and a gloriously sunny day. The water temperature at the deeper parts of the dives was a very warm 18DegC (even so some were in Dry Suits!) .

Dives times varied with the longest reaching nearly an hour. The visibility was good and withthe strong sunlight everyone had a super dive. The post-dive BBQ was well timed and the food was ready to go as soon as the divers had changed! Excellent!

Enriched Air Diver ~ Exam Success!

Congratulations to Phil , Simon & Linda on passing their PADI Enriched Air Specialty Diver Examination! Well done to all three of you , your marks showed that you had all put alot of effort into the knowledge development!