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Home arrow Dive Reports arrow Here We Go Round The Mulberry...... - Late July and there are fun and games out of Bracklesham
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Here We Go Round The Mulberry...... - Late July and there are fun and games out of Bracklesham Print

From Our Bracklesham Correspondent.

Date 29 July 2000

Hmmmmm, Concrete Barge, no wonder the bloody thing sank!

Duncan peered at the sea, it was wet, and the way it always seems to be when you're about to dive in it.

The boat's ready! , anybody seen Tim?

There was an eerie silence (well actually there wasn't because a horse box pulled in to the car park and it made quite a lot of noise! - but I like to create an atmosphere it makes it more fun for the reader)

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Tim Hughes was late - Frauline Cole - Dive Marshall made a note of it in her log, Neil looked worried Poor Tim he's gonna pay for this later!.

Frau Cole decided that Tim was not going to arrive and even if he did he would be told to stand in the corner of the car park until we had finished our first dive.

After all they are not here to enjoy themselves!

'Right then, Duncan, Guy (pronounced Gee) and Neil you will dive as a three and Mildred and I will dive together so I can keep an eye on him!

'You four launch the boat and have it ready for me by the time I've fixed my hair and finished my coffee1'

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'She can't talk to us like that, they abolished slavery years ago' said John

'Not in this club they didn't 'replied Duncan.

'Look happy everybody she's watching us.! said Neil

Like a freshly groomed thoroughbred (thanks Duncan and Wayne) spare rib into the water, whilst Georgina assessed our performance from her vantage point above the beach.

Duncan looked hungry it had been at least ten minutes since he'd eaten and he now faced a couple of hours without food, possibly longer if the engine on Spare Rib played up and we needed a tow in.

'Are we just going to sit here - I've come to dive!' announced the Dive Marshall.

Within ten minutes we were at the site of the Concrete Barge (and little more than an hour later the first two divers were ready to enter the water.)

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We'll be no more than 40 minutes so you can catch the last 4 or 5 minutes of slack, OK! barked Frauline Cole, this was not a question so the other three nodded and took out their knitting Knowing that Georgina was now out of earshot Neil ventured an observation - It's a good job there aren't any shops down there we'd have been waiting all day! The other two laughed.

Suddenly a clap of thunder broke the silence - I heard that! You'll all now wait in silence until I've finished my dive - I'll discipline you all later!

Then all was silent again.

The serious bit:

The concrete Barge is precisely that, a concrete barge constructed to assist in the Normandy landings - it's not in any dive book nor do we know any more about it.

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The viz can be difficult but on this occasion we got it right and could see at least 4m.

The max depth is 18m to the seabed and 13m to the top.

The barge lays on her starboard side in a scour pit of silty clay - so watch your finning and if you put your hand down expect it to sink up to the elbow in the mud.

Any more than six divers down would stir up the viz but its generally not a problem as slack is never really that, there is always a slight drift which clears the viz.

We saw large shoals of Bib a few Tompot Blennies numerous Spider Crabs a couple of Lobsters and the baby sister of all Congers!

The holds are open and it is a really nice dive.

In thirty minutes, we were easily able to swim from bow to stern and back again to the bow at a leisurely pace. Once you leave the shelter of the barge be prepared for a drift - so a deployable SMB is essential.

With the first dive over, spare rib headed back to refuel before setting out again for the second dive, which was planned for the Mulberry.

Nearing the shore, a familiar form was sited on the beach. John muttered under his breath so that only Duncan can hear "God that looks like Tim!" Too late. Frauline Cole's radar had already locked on to the unfortunate Tim. Tim was now transfixed and powerless to escape his fate. Georgina leapt from the boat and in two gazelle like bounds, she had Tim in her clutches. (The next bit is subject to a little poetic licence; you'll have to speak to Georgina to get her side of the story.)

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"Where the hell have you been and what time do you call this?" before Tim could utter another word he was knocked sideways by the next barrage.

Tim attempted to offer an explanation. "I took a wrong turning on the M27 and was half way to Ringwood when I realised I had gone wrong".

Georgina remained impassive. Tim was made to go and get the coffees and to eat his lunch in silence to reflect upon the error of his ways.

Guy (pronounced Geeee) sampled the local cuisine and made the fatal mistake of asking, "Would anyone like a chip?" In a few seconds he realised his error but too late. He would have to make do with a lone beef burger for his lunch. (He will know better next time)

By now the wind had got up, so Duncan went off to the loo to make himself more comfortable. Coincidentally the sea had also got rougher. Nonetheless, our five heroes, under their dictator Frauline Cole ventured out again, this time their target was the Mulberry.

 

The Factual Bit.

As some of you may know, Wittering Divers Club have recently, successfully completed the initial phase of a line laying project linking the Mulberry, the Cuckoo and the Landing Craft to enable them all to be visited during a single dive. (Note: in addition to normal diving equipment, spiked running shoes and extra fluid should be considered when attempting this dive.

Our first dive pair, Duncan and Guy (pronounced Geeeeee) leapt enthusiastically into the water following the instructions of their Marshall, promising not to talk to strangers, accept sweeties from older divers or talk to strange fish. Apparently, they had a very enjoyable dive, visiting the Cuckoo and the Mulberry. They, no doubt, encountered the same huge shoals of bib, which we all saw, and the furthermore claimed to have seen cuttle fish. The rest of us chose not to believe this, as we didn't actually see any ourselves.

Tim and Neil turned the buddy check into a lost art of fine conversation and are to be commended for their command of the English language. A little before sunset they commenced their dive. Both parties returned to the boat without incident, leaving the third pairing to commence their dive.

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John kept everybody on their toes with a 'what's missing' quiz of which Duncan was the winner - the answer for those interested was of course - a weight belt!

We descended the shot line and immediately found the rope leading to the Cuckoo (or was it the Landing Craft) there are no signposts yet! Two hundred metres is a short walk but it's a bloody long fin if you don't know what's at the end of it. After about seven minutes you will see the unmistakable shape of the Cuckoo. Why is it called the Cuckoo, you may well ask. All I can volunteer is that it is brown, fat and ugly and I certainly would not want it in my nest! Nonetheless, it is an interesting piece of seabed debris and has much life on it.

We then easily located the line, which led to the Landing Craft. On the way, Georgina had to fight off the amorous attentions of a large male(?) spider crab which at one stage was viewed clinging to the seat of her dry suit. Whether I witnessed whoops of delight or screams of consternation, I shall never know as I only have Georgina's word for it. Apparently crabs are not her ideal type.

The Landing Craft is recognisable as a small military Landing Craft and, once again, a good dive as part of a visit to the Mulberry. A further eighty yards following the line brings you back to the Mulberry where you can conclude your dive although we experienced very poor viz at times on account of all the bloody fish getting in the way. The entire dive lasted forty-eight minutes but the swim to the Cuckoo taking seven to ten minutes is not a leisurely one, you should allow more time to complete this comfortably.

We rejoined the boat and Captain Neil (pronounced kneel) volunteered at Georgina's insistence to take us back (you can always get out and walk if you don't like it!) Neil glided the boat back towards shore but made the fatal mistake of listening to Duncan (pronounced Duncan) when he said he knew a short cut. It is true to say, there is a short cut between the Mixon and Bracklesham slip, but it does not involve taking a boat!

You could quite comfortably take your shoes and socks off, roll your trousers up to your ankles and walk without fear of getting your clothes wet.

Having proven this point to ourselves, we headed back via the Street to Bracklesham without incident where the boat was recovered with the help of a half-submerged Terrano and a long rope.

The dive debriefing, which followed, was most impressive. Everyone was told what a wonderful time they had had and how they would all like to come back and do it again. In the customary way, wallets were raided and the unfortunate divers were made to pay for their enjoyment thus ensuring that all would sustain the coffers of Guildford BSAC and continue the remarkable reputation of this undoubted jewel in the BSAC crown.

 
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