Dive 1 was to be the Braga. We left Eastbourne at 9.30am and were on the wreck site for about 1pm. The Norwegian ship Braga was built in 1938, she struck Dieppe harbour wall whilst departing on 7 February 1961 and un beknown to her holed her hull. She managed to travel some 20 miles before she sank. Today she makes an excellent dive in 34m of water lying with a 45 degree list to port. On jumping in we could see the the viz would be good, on the bottom this turned out to be around 12-15m. The wreck is absolutely covered in life, with lobsters and crabs in every hole and shoals of bib, pollack and hugh bass all over the place. The seabed is littered with dinner-plate sized scallops, but the French look-but-don’t-touch policy means these tasty little critters had to stay where they were. Many fittings, including some very nice large square portholes, are still in place – these can be seen around the wheelhouse in the following picture:
After a cosy hour an an interesting wreck in good viz it was time to ascend and chug our way into Dieppe. We arrived at around 6pm and got checked into our digs at the Hotel Windsor – not bad but not great, but suited our needs.
Thursday morning and we woke to a bit of a breeze from the north, so we would be punching our way into a F4 sloppy sea for a first dive on the day, the Sperrbrecher 178 (ex-Gauss). This large merchantman (some 232m x 36m x 14m) was requisitioned by the German navy and used for escort duties. On the 11 December 1942 she was attacked and sunk by torpedo by either one of the British warships HMS Whitshed and HMS Worcester 8 miles to the north of Dieppe, there were only ten survivors from the sinking.
The wreck is upright and intact and lies in just 20m of water. The holds are open allowing some great penetration opportunities and the engine is still standing proud. At the bows a huge gun is still in situ ready for action and the magazine below is chok-full of ammunition. A really great dive. (If you speak French here is some diving info).
After a long surface interval spent watching dolphins in the distance, eating and asking for more cups of tea we were ready for our second dive of the day, HMS Daffodil. This wreck lies a couple of miles west of the Sperrbrecher 178 in a similar depth and also makes for an excellent dive. HMS Daffodil was a locomotive transport ship that was lost on 17 March 1945 after striking a mine, she lies upright in 24m and is reasonably intact. As with the other wrecks on this trip she was covered in life, with shoals of bass and black bream all over the place. There are some excellend penetration opportunities on this huge wreck and many of the fittings are still in place. The stern is especially impressive with its large opening and runners for the locomotives still in there.
Day three and the sea state had flattened right off as we headed to our final dive of the trip, the Chateau Margaux.
She was a large ship at 4,035 gross tons, length 386.5ft x beam 41ft and was equipped with a single funnel, three masts, an iron hull and single screw which could make a speed 12 knots. Accommodation was for fifty 1st and twelve hundred 3rd class passengers, she was built 1884 by Chantiers & Ateliers de la Gironde, Bordeaux for the Bordeaux Line and her maiden voyage from Bordeaux was on 26 February 1884. On this voyage her rudder was disabled and she arrived at Halifax under tow by the Anchor Line ship Caledonia, eventually reaching New York on 27 May. Her last Bordeaux – New York voyage was in July 1888 and she was then chartered to the French Line for their Bordeaux – Havana – Vera Cruz service. On 28 April 1889 she was sunk in the English Channel in collision with British ship Manora.
The Chateau Margaux lies 24 miles north from Dieppe in on her starboard side, the bow and stern are the highest points with the middle of the ship collapsed down to the seabed but still quite open and exposing her 4 large boilers. Depth is 36m. The fish life on this wreck is amazing and I have rarely seen so many lobsters and crabs on a wreck.
All-in-all this was an excellent 3 days diving, so much so that I’ve booked another trip for next July! If you’re interested in coming along then let me know. So pics below from Chris Boddington: