Tuesday, May 10, 2005


New dives offer deep-sea delight


Isle of Whight County Press
By Martin Neville
May 09, 2005

TWO new dive trails will be officially launched in the Western Solent next week.
Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) has laid trails on two sites at The Needles and Alum Bay to benefit both divers, who gain access to protected sites normally off limits, and non-divers through video footage and greater dissemination.

The site is littered with wrecks, including HMS Pomone, HMS Assurance and the Anglo Saxon.

Hidden in the chalk gullies lie many artefacts including cannon, ballast blocks, cannon balls and anchors.

"It is an interesting yet difficult site to dive and the trail allows investigation in an informative and safe manner," said David Guy, HWTMA chairman. "The dive also incorporates the diverse marine life and geology of the area."

The trail route around Alum Bay encompasses two wreck sites and the adjacent reef.

There are extensive timber remains, copper pins, iron knees and copper sheathing at the Alum Bay wreck while the second is of a smaller ship built with carvel planking and treenail fastenings.

The reef is home to a variety of marine life including lobsters and anemones.Laid and tested last summer, divers follow numbered markers on the seabed using a booklet for guidance.

The booklets also highlight the important features on the trails, helping divers to identify key areas.

Video footage was also taken and it will be used to brief divers before they board the boat.

The initiative has been funded by English Heritage, Leader Plus and the Local Heritage Initiative.

"The trail is also an important feature for non-divers," said Claire Campbell, Leader Plus project officer."

The combination of video footage, underwater booklets, displays in the Sunken History Exhibition and talks by the trust staff will bring these submerged secrets to life for those who cannot reach them.

"The initiative provides a more detailed examination of these interesting and dynamic sites for both divers and non-divers."

The trails will be launched on May 20 and open to the public for dives throughout the diving season.

For more information about the launch, diving the trail or any other enquiries, contact diving@hwtma.org.uk.


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