Eastbourne, Wrecks and Sites
Rather than reproduce the whole of ‘Dive Sussex’ our aim here is describe a few of the our favourites
Norman's Bay Historic
Horse of Willingdon and Elphick Tree
Norman's Bay Historic Wreck Trail
A recently discovered 17th centuary shipwreck with over 45 cannon, an anchor and some timbers as been protected as an Historic Wreck site and the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) as the primary licencee has built a wreck trail to guide visting divers around the site
To visit the site you can either contact Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) directly and join a planned NAS dive or apply have your group's dive scheduled in the Norman's Bay Wreck Trail Calander .
Allternativly we can handle the application for you
The trail makes an ideal 2nd dive with slack approximately 1 hour before High or Low water
For more details can be found at Norman's Bay Protected Wreck Site
For those new to the area the Alaunia is an absolute must. This 13,405 ton Cunard liner was sunk by a mine on October 19th 1916 whilst carrying 8,000 tons of General cargo
Today the Alaunia is remarkably intact with a maximum depth of about 37m in the scour. The bow section is almost complete and rises to about 28m, she’s more broken towards the stern with our favourite area the 1st class accommodation off the port side.
We must have done over 100 dives on this wreck and still feel there is much more to explore especially as the winter storms uncover and recover different areas
For more information on the Alaunia and other Cunard Liner wrecks see CunardShipWrecks which is the homepage the recently published book Shipwrecks of the Cunard Line
Another liner, this time a bit smaller at 6,610 tons which sunk on March 16th 1912 as the result of a collision
As she was carrying £750,000 of gold and silver bars she was immediately salvaged and ‘opened up’ though there are still rumours of ‘the one they left behind’
She lies in 27m and is a superb dive, often chosen as a 2nd dive simply due to the relatively shallow depth. Over the years scallops have made her their home and some years they’re literally piled up in the scours around the boilers
Some of the artefacts recovered over the years have been returned to P&O for display on their newest OCEANA
Below is a good link to P+O and the new Oceana
This 2000+ ton ship sits upright and intact off Beachy Head in 40m rising to 32m on the decks. She was carrying a wide range of domestic goods, the most obvious being 1000’s of painted pots and bowls some with lids.
These can still be found in the main holds or around the ‘split’ just forward of the stern.
Once when diving the stern I thought we’d ‘hit the jackpot’ reflecting from my torch beam was the stones of a box of rings (‘rubies, emeralds, shappires and diamonds all brilliant pure colours). Unfortunately they are only cheap brass and cut glass costume jewellery but still memorable
Despite diving her for 10+ years no positive identification has been found but its not the ‘Branksome Chine
Listed as a ‘collier’ this small and upright wreck resting 28m was built to a very high standard by her owner the Marquis of Londonderry in 1873 and finds recovered are not typical of a collier (in about 1993 this led to a bit of an ‘incident’ between rival dive teams and their boats)
The wreck is a good size and can easily be explored on a single dive (especially using Nitrox)
Though this may not be her name this coaster carrying railway lines and lying in 28m towards the West of Beachy head on a sandy seabed is haven for marine life in and around her collapsed structure
Another WW1 victim of ‘submarining’ this 1,194 ship now lies in 35m with the bridge 7m proud. Looking back over my log books and the excellent write up I was surprised we haven’t dived this one for nearly 8 years and look forward to visiting her again
The Irisbrook and Ville De Bordeaux and opportunity to do 2 wrecks in 1 dive !
These 2 ships collided with the bows of the ‘Frenchman’ hitting the Irisbrook on the portside close to the stern. In fact they lie so close that when we first dived them the first 2 pairs of divers nearly came to blows as they each described totally different wrecks !
The Irisbrook is the larger of the 2 upright ships with about 35m to the decks and 40m to the seabed. The Ville De Dunkerque is a bit deeper and 48m has been recorded at its stern. We’ve had such good visibility in the area that not only can you see 1 wreck from the other but also the divers bubble trails
This liner and WW1 troopship is the first of the wrecks in the East area and though the bow and decks can be explored in as little as 35m she does go down to about 50m at the stern
The best and shallowest area is where the accommodation and bridge have collapsed
About 6-8 years ago there was some commercial salvage carried out by divers, when we dived her after they left we were surprised at how little was disturbed. We guess they were after something specific and valuable and probably didn’t find it
There are still many boxes of shell cases in the stern but would appreciate it if they are left there
War Monarch (previously mis-identified as Rydal Hall)
This huge 110m long steam turbine powered ore carrier sitting in 35m is broken into 3 sections, the small bow area is very tight to penetrate and has given up its small and unnamed bell. However the letters WAR MON are still visible on the bow before the break
The main midships and engine room provide superb ‘swim thoughs’ and the last time I dived we found the work room and tool bench were the engineer made repairs
The stern is upright with the above decks accommodation now more a series of frames which attract huge shoals of fish
A very popular 2nd dive on and armed merchant man in 30m but please don’t bring up the ‘cheese wedges’ as they are phosphorous and do combust when they dry out (in your jacket pocket or dive bag)
This luxury steam yacht was built in 1869 and used as the first ‘package holiday’ ship in Edwardian times by we believe a Mr Lunn who was later to founded Lunn Poly travel agency
She sit 10m upright with a depth in the scour of 38m.
Though the are can be silty the wreck itself allows for some careful penetration, however please don’t get too carried away uncovering ship’s artefacts like the crockery for the 119 passengers that you cause a ‘silt out’
Another large collier and despite what the description in Dive Sussex I’ve never found her ‘very silty’
She sits in about 35m with the stern cabins being accessible, as you move forward past the hold the wreck suddenly ends and looks as if its been sectioned by an huge saw. If you keep going there is an enormous boiler off to the side which at first seems too big for her. A bit further on is a swim through which takes you to the bow section
This one really needs more than one dive though Alex from Custom Divers did manage a couple of circuits on his scooter
There are a number of ‘mid channel’ wrecks reachable from Eastbourne which are well worth the trip.
This steam ferry sank in 1895 when she was only 1 year old when she was hit by the French ferry SS LYON in fog (cross channel rivalry was fierce even then)
The seabed depth is 45-50m depending on the tide with the 5000HP engines being the highest point about 4m proud
The wreck is home to a lot of conger and I’ve photographs of about 5 of them in 1 hole near the 2 props
Rio Parana (ex Persiana)
The stern section of this 4015 ton steam ship lies intact in 45m with the highest point being 35m. Further forward the wreck becomes flatter and the depth goes beyond 50m where a couple of years ago a fortunate diver identified her as the Persiana by the bell (previously this one was known as ‘The Porthole Wreck’)
This does give us a bit of a problem about what the wreck Number 306 in Dive Sussex is
Tom’s wreck or The Lobby Wreck
Lying in 38m this offshore wreck is in an area of usually outstanding visibility and a large amount of lobsters including an Albino one that is about 4 foot long
The wreck itself is broken into two sections with bow and stern about 4m proud, we think is French
These range from a gentle drift to an exhilarating 3 knots on a spring tide and are definitely not the typical ‘scabby drift’
Horse of Willingdon and Elphick Tree
A small reef from about 15m to 4m at the top
Royal Sovereign Shoals
The reason why the light tower was built, fast overfalls and a maximum depth of 20m
Personally I class this dispersed WW1 battleship as a drift as she’s less than 2m tall but blown over a big area in 20m, this is however the drift for the more experienced diver