Setting out on a nice and sunny Saturday morning we boarded the RIB from Selsey beach. Heading out in the water, I was surprised to see we were heading so close to Bognor – the place we’d just come from. Although the Mulberries are considered to be in Selsey, as a local I quickly recognised the shore-line in the distance as being Pagham – a vital difference for the people who live there! The boat ride was about 10-15 minutes, and the waves were quite minimal.
Our first UK sea dive, and the first off a RIB, we were both a bit nervous about the temperature of the water! Getting off the boat seemed like a simple prospect, getting back on a completely different kettle of fish! We had very recently returned from a holiday in Turkey where we had done two dives off a hard boat, using a backwards-roll to enter the water. To get back in the boat we had to climb a short ladder, which personally I found really quite difficult. In comparison to this experience, getting back on the RIB was a much easier task by holding onto the side and propelling yourself up (although not the most glamorous of moves I have to say).
The dive itself was really enjoyable – even though Gradie and Robin scared off the cuttlefish when they descended meaning that Gary and myself missed them (no one else saw these so there is every chance they were imagined). During the dive brief we had been instructed to follow the line, which would eventually lead us to the big concrete blocks that are the Mulberries. Following these instructions we took hold of the line and followed it to the end. Into nothing. Somewhere along the way we’d taken a wrong turn, coincidently we weren’t the only ones as we found Gradie and Robin doing the same thing. Ending up in the middle of nothing wasn’t that bad though, as we found a friendly dogfish who was happy to sit there whilst we watched it.
Having turned around and followed the line in the right direction, we eventually came across the Mulberries. I’m not really sure what I was expecting to see, but they definitely exceeded my expectations. Perhaps this was because the description we’d been given was ‘broken concrete with rusty steel javelins poking out’, which though factually correct did nothing to describe the artificial reef that has developed around them.
Visibility on the day was OK, but it could have been better and much of the rumoured fish life seemed content to hide away. That said there was still a lot to see, with Robin’s keen eyes spying Nudibranchs alongside the cuttlefish, dogfish and others. The Mulberries themselves prove an interesting site and provide lots of nooks and crannies to investigate, which is also ideal for practicing buoyancy skills.
It was a great first UK sea dive, and one I’d definitely recommend to others. It’s a bit hit or miss on what marine life you’ll see, but that can be said about pretty much anywhere and one thing is certain – it’s better than Wraysbury!
Written by Fiona and Graham Wadie