Dartmouth and further afield

The South Devon coastline is a mecca for divers, with numerous dive sites all along the coastline. A number of boats operate from several ports including Dartmouth and Plymouth among others and there are also many slipways where clubs and individuals can launch their own boats.

Dartmouth is an ideal starting point to explore sites in the mid-channel, particularly deeper wrecks for trimix divers, the channel islands and the north France coastline.

Visibility and dive conditions: Dartmouth area and from Dartmouth to Channel Islands

Skipper

The Maureen is available for charter by groups or individuals, usually as a liveaboard, to visit sites locally to the home port in Dartmouth, Devon and further afield, such as Normandy, Scilly Isles, Channel Isles & Brittany. See further details on his website, BSAC forum gallery or click here for contact details. The Maureen is registered as a Nitrox & Trimix BSAC Technical & Seamanship Centre and has an onboard compressor and nitrox.

Contact details:
Skipper: Mike Rowley               Boat Name: Maureen of Dart
Address: 23 Lower Fairview Road, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 9EE.
Telephone: 01803 835449           Mobile/boat phone : 07860 571012
Fax: 01803 835449                     E-mail: maureen@deepsea.co.uk

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South Devon dive sites

The South Devon coastline has a full range of excellent dive sites including something for all tastes, from shallow to deep, scenic and wrecks.

Popular wrecks include:

The Bretagne is a largely intact, approx. 230 foot long steamer lying upright on a 25-30m seabed, rising to about 18m at deck level. It sank in 1918 after colliding with a steamer in fog. Although the wreck is covered in silt, visibility tends to be good and it is a great dive, best at slack water.

The Galicia is a shallow (15-20m) very broken up large wreck with a lot of marine life which sank after hitting a mine in 1917.

HMS Scylla is the UK's first shipwreck sunk specifically for divers. The 2,500 tonne Royal Navy frigate was the last to be built at Devonport Dockyard and was taken out of active service in 1993. She lies in about 20m near the James Egan Layne.

The James Egan Layne, an American Liberty Ship sunk by a torpedo in 1945, lies in about 21m with the bow at about 8m. Her cargo included tank parts, jeeps, lorries, wagon wheels and various other small items, which you can see as you swim through through the cargo holds, the engine room and various other areas of the ship.

The Lord Stewart sits upright on the seabed at about 32-35m and was an armed merchantman sunk by torpedo in 1918. You can clearly see the damage to it's starboard side caused by the torpedo.

The Maine (about 35m depth, 400ft x 46ft) was torpedoed in 1917 and sank offshore from Soar Mill Cove. The Maine is a very pretty albeit rather deteriorating wreck, covered in Plumose anemones that enjoy the strong currents crossing over the wreck. The bows are shallowest, there is a large anchor on the outside, the engine room is exposed with massive boilers and the stern is fairly intact.

The Persier (5000 ton merchantman, 30m max depth, 10m high) was built in Newcastle in 1919 and first sank in 1941 during a convoy off Iceland. She was towed back to Britain for repairs a year later and then was sunk by torpedos during a convoy off Eddystone in 1945. People aboard were rescued but the ship drifted before sinking and was not found until 1969. The wreck lies on sand and interesting rock reefs, and supports an amazing amount of fish life. The stern and upright bows are recognisable although mid-ships is very broken up. Visibility is often good and there is little tidal flow so diving can be done more or less anytime.

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Scenic and reef sites include:

Hilsea Point Rocks is a good reef for sea life including sea fans, hard and soft corals, edible crabs and lobsters.

The Mew Stone Ledges drop down to 30m with gullies dropping very steeply to 40m. There is the wreck of an aircraft on the ledges.

The Orestone Reef is a good drift dive with lots of marine life, although the current splits around reefs and other large rocks in the area and divers tend to drift in different directions.

Watcombe Caves are a series of large caves with a lot of kelp growing close to the cliffs concealing the caves, with max. diving depth at about 10m.

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Websites with more dive site information

A number of websites list more detailed information about Devon and Cornwall dive sites -
The Totnes BSAC website includes shore and other dive sites, with wreck positions.
This boat diving website includes position and diving information for several scenic and wreck sites.
The BSAC website includes links to information on many sites, some of which are in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.
The Scotsac website includes shore and other dive sites, with wreck positions.
The submerged website includes information on many wrecks, some of which are in Devon area.
The March 2006 Diver article covered potential diving spots in the Dartmouth area.
The Seasearch Local Co-ordinator actively welcomes divers that want to get involved with recording and monitoring marine life in Devon.

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The following information on the mid-channel and Channel Island dive sites comes from John Liddiard's website and Mike Rowley.

 

Brittany sites include:

The waters west and south of Brest have very good visibility, typically 15m or more and are blessed with prolific fish life. The coastline is similar to Cornwall with interesting little ports such as Cameret and Morgat.

Very pretty dives on Rock walls and pinnacles of varying heights between about 4m and 50m, most encrusted with life, some with gullies, and including the Basse De L`lroise, a majestic offshore pinnacle between 5-50m with sheer walls on all sides that is a superb dive.

A wide range of wrecks between about 20m and 55m, with many in the 30-45m range, including:

SS Swansea Vale (20m in 28m) is a 1310tg wreck that sank in 1918 and is open in reasonably good condition making a good dive.

Kleber (40m in 48m) is a 7578tg French armed cruiser that sank in 1916. The wreck lies upside down on a reef and is mostly complete with guns and turrets by the side of wreck. A superb dive.

La Meuse (30m) is a good dive, where the main section lies upside down, twin steam turbines in complete engine room.

SS Trane (35m), a 1162tg Norwegian steamship, sank in 1924 and lies upright & complete on white sand. A superb dive.

War Balloon (47m in 53m) is a large (2341tg.) wreck that sank in 1918 and lies on white sand. Great dive with massive engine & 2 boilers standing proud and a large gun on stern.

MV Peter Sif (38m in 55m) was a container ship that sank in 1979. A superb dive on a complete & intact wreck lying on the port side.

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Channel Islands sites include:

All the islands have a number of very pretty rock walls with various heights ranging between about 0m and 50m and covered in marine life. Stunning dives include a couple of exposed pinnacles (Boue De Kaine 10-35m, Boue Blondel 14-40m) with abundant life off Guernsey, and Les Vingt Clos (10-45m)on Sark, a spectacular rock wall with surrounding reefs & gullies.

Wrecks

The Oost Vlaanderen (22m in 30m, 421tg), known locally as the cement wreck, is a reasonably intact fairly conventional steam powered coaster with an AA gun in the hold. She sits upright about 1.5 miles from St Peter Port, Guernsey.

Dr Rudolf Warhendorff (20m in 30m, 381tg) was an armed steam trawler and lies upright and complete with a cargo of ammunition, just outside St Peter Port.

The P.S. Brighton (42m in 48m, 265tg) is the wreck of a paddle steamer that lies upright & intact.

A German Minesweeper (47m in 52m) is a good dive on a complete wreck, off Sark.

The SS Schokland (24m in 30m) is an upright and complete wreck of a small merchant ship that sank in 1943 when it struck a reef off Jersey.

The armed coaster Kronwyck (27m in 31m) was sunk by RAF aircraft in 1942 and now lies upside down. The stern and bows are complete with midships broken and the engine room is open.

The MV Heron (18m in 30m)is a good dive on an upright and complete wreck that sank off Jersey in the late 1970s.

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A Mid Channel wreck - the M.V. Muree (32m in 69m, 18000tdw, 152m x 22.8m x 9.5m) was a Pakistani container ship that sank in a storm in 1989. She now lies upright and complete with anemones covering vertical surfaces and the mast. Divers can access various parts of the ship including the wheelhouse, a cabin below the wheelhouse and even a swimming pool!

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Normandy wrecks include:

These are just a few of the very many wrecks available. All are relatively little dived with many of the artifacts still in place.

The SS Leopoldsville (38m in 58m, 12000tg), an ex-Belgian passenger liner converted for use as a troopship, was torpedoed 5 miles out from Cherbourg in 1944. The intact wreck is a war grave, lying on the port side.

The U390 (43m in 49m) is a superb dive on an intact and complete sub.

The Landing ship USS Carbonelle (20m in 29m) lies upside down, with a fairly intact bow and stern section, but otherwise fairly collapsed. Has Sherman tanks, diesel engines and other machinery in the hold.

The SS Empire Broadsword (7m in 23m) is a large UK Landing ship which is complete in 2 sections and has a gun on the stern.

The USS Susan B Anthony (23m in 31m), a Liberty Ship, was sunk by a mine. She was blasted open but is otherwise complete and all guns are still in place.

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Scilly Isles include:

These are a few of the many sites available. Many sites are on steep rock slopes as the islands fall away rapidly into deep water, so all depth preferences can be catered for. Underwater visibility is often 10m or more and divers often see seals on the surface and underwater. There are numerous superb dives between Dartmouth and the Scilly Isles which can be done on the way there and back such as Wolf Rock, Epson Shoal or the John R. Park.

Scenic dives include rock walls and pinnacles of varying heights from 0m to about 60m, covered in marine life. Favourites include Menawethan (0m to 40m), an impressive rock wall and good for seals; Trenemene Ledges (0m to 60m), a superb rock wall in a very exposed position where seals are often seen; Flat Ledges (5m in 45m), a stunning rock pinnacle covered in soft corals.

Wrecks include:

SS King Cadwallon (20m in 50m, 3275tg, 326`x 48`x 24`), that ran aground in 1906 and is mostly intact lying on steep rock slope. Superb dive.

The SS Plympton (12m in 30m, 2869tg, 314`x 40.4`x 21`) ran aground in 1909. Her bows are in 12m with the wreck lying underneath the SS Hathor (10m in 40m, 7060tg, 472`x 61`x 28.5`) which ran aground in 1920 with her stern in 10m over the Plympton.

The SS Italia (10m in 40m, 2792tg, 235`x 42`x 23.5`) ran aground in 1917 carrying coal. She is mostly intact with the bows in 40m and the stern in 10m.

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Boat launch sites

The boatlaunch website has details of most launching sites around the country. Zoom in to find slipways in the area where you plan to dive.

 

Visibility and dive conditions: Dartmouth area and from Dartmouth to Channel Islands