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Saturday, 21 September 2019
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Mulberry Triangle - How to do the Mulberry and the Landing Craft in one dive and make it easier for Print

By Gareth Hamilton-Fletcher
Wittering Divers Club

The idea came to me when Wittering Dive shop ran a competition two seasons ago through one the national dive magazines with the prize being some expensive dive gear. The Competition was run for several months on the lines of picture clues with final clue being to dive out from the Mulberry wreck to the Infantry Landing Craft some 80 metres away to read the final answer written on a pencil board.

From Dive Sussex the Landing craft was stated as being on a course of 325 degrees true from the Mulberry, but with the Mulberry being so large it was difficult to get the correct starting point for the bearing to the ILC, so many divers missed the mark, and only a few read the final answer.

So why not set up a guide line from the Mulberry to the ILC, so that divers could safely visit another wreck and make that regular dive round the Mulberry that more interesting. Then reading up Dive Sussex about the ILC and the Cuckoo aircrew rescue boat on that page 59, why not extend the guide lines to the Cuckoo as well and then make up a triangular course.

Last season we arranged a mooring for the Avon semi-rigid in Selsey by the Lifeboat Station through the kindness of a local fisherman Peter Linch. We need started making trips out to the Far Mulberry and tried with a simple sonar to firstly locate the ILC. No success. So we dived and did a line search going out with a 50 metre reel putting a spike in the sea bed and then doing two semi sweeps of another 50 metres, and was on the right sweep coming out of the murk like a shallow wall. On top of the ILC the only feature was the winch assembly with the Wittering Dive's clue board!

After successfully locating the ILC, it was decided to leave a small marker buoy on it, and coming back with the rope later. But on the next visit, there was no buoy, so thinking the recent storm had removed it we went through the diving search again and put up another buoy. But again on the next visit no buoy on the ILC, and talking to Peter Linch, he thought the fisherman with the pots had cut it off thinking it had a pot on the end.

So the first season was not successful but we did have a local firm to donate rope and spikes.

Come May again the Avon boat was overhauled and put back on the mooring. This time before we went out I asked Peter Linch to talk to the fisherman who potted the Far Mulberry to leave our marker buoys alone. The message came back that this particular fisherman was totally un-approachable and would cut-off anything on site. So we were going to have to find the ILC and Cuckoo and lay the guide ropes all in one operation. A Cub meeting was held and the Guildford BSAC were invited to assist with the operation. Great long discussion ensued including e-mails galore between the BSAC team about the methods used to secure the rope to the seabed. Our great Diving Officer was given the task of writing up a step by step procedures for laying the rope and putting the steel spikes into the seabed.

Lots of discussions by no action!

Meantime I had fired up Peter Linch on this project, so much so that he had located 200 yds of redundant weighted lobster pot rope coiled up in a large plastic drum and we took both his and Avon boat out during the week, He found the ILC on his sonar after an hour, we all three dived down, then attaching the weighted rope to the ILC wreck used his boat to tow the line back the Mulberry buoy, then diving down again attached it to the big ring on the wreck. To make sure the rope lay on the bottom near the Mulberry I positioned steel bars across. So there we were with one line between the Mulberry and the ILC.

Now to find the Cuckoo! We tried the sonar again for hours but now success although other interesting shapes showed up on Peter's sonar. So we carried another underwater search with 50 meter reels, going out on a course of 290 degrees magnetic for 50 metres, spike in the sea bed and out again with two 50 metre reels to do semi circular sweeps. We only found some steel girders, had the Cuckoo totally rusted away after all these years?

I couldn't dive one weekend as I was going to the Wimbledon Davis Cup match Britain v Ecuador. We left the match with low spirits after Britain was defeated and was out of the Davis Cup, then suddenly I mobile phone was ringing on the way back to the car, and it was Peter Linch phoning from his boat by the Far Mulberry! He had found the Cuckoo on the sonar and had dived confirm it. It was in excellent condition albeit a 30-ft long boat shape.

We could loose no time, so the ropes went down to form the triangle over the next couple of days.

Seeing the Cuckoo for the first time was a real thrill and it was in such good conditions. We had a good look inside the boat structure and one squeeze in pushing one scuba gear ahead but the thought of those conger eels has put off any adventurous divers so far.

So there we have it a triangular course Mulberry to ILC to Cuckoo and return to Mulberry. At present we don't know the exact distance but Peter Woolfson and myself dived the course and used about 100 bar of air from 12lilrebottles. So go for it dive the Triangle!

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