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Saturday, 21 September 2019
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First in - The first dive of the season for some: Hounds Reef 20-3-05 Print

Decision making process:
Trevor, Duncan and Nick
assess the wind at Bognor

The plan was to do the first dive of the season on Sunday, 20th March, launching McKie and Spare Rib from Bognor for the Mulberry, and if the weather would permit it do a second dive on the Waldrons.

After an early start at the boat shed, we arrived at Bognor at 8:00.

McKie on its way
to Hayling Island

The sea seemed rather calm, with wind force 3, coming from the East. The weather forecast was not too good, though, so Duncan decided to launch the boats from Hayling Island and instead of doing the Mulberry and Waldrons, to do only one dive at Hounds Reef, which is sheltered from Easterly winds by Selsey Bill.

What happens next?

While we launched the boats at Hayling Island, the wind picked up to at least a force 5 with gusts up to force 6. After a bumpy 40-minute boat ride into the wind and the waves, we dropped the shot line at Hounds Reef at about 10.30 and went straight in. The visibility was better then expected: about 3 meters, with a water temperature of 7C.

Hounds Reef is just off Bracklesham and has an average depth of 11 m. One goes there mainly to dig for petrified sharks' teeth (this is why people call it "Shark tooth Bay"). It's best to do that in summer, when the sea temperatures allow you to dive without gloves.

Strange creatures attach themselves
to Spare Rib (barnacles?)

Wearing 5-mm neoprene gloves, we only managed to pick up 1 small ray's tooth and some shells. Apart from sharks' teeth, we saw various sea slugs, edible crabs, swimming crabs, hermit crabs, and Duncan also spotted a small ray (which he was unable to identify), Pipe fish, Wrasse and a Tompot blenny.

The bottom times were between 12 and 50 minutes, with most of the 16 people diving in the 30-40 minute range.

Thanks go to Duncan for marshalling, to Will and John for towing the boats, and to Trevor and Hannah for boat handling.

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