The aim of this expedition is to locate and identify at least one of several wrecks in the Portland Bill area. We will be following up on information obtained from the Shipwreck Project, which has identified a number of interesting but unconfirmed targets. Sadly the Shipwreck Project has been closed down this year due to lack of diver support, so there is no longer a database in which to contribute. However, we will be exchanging information with the English Heritage and Wessex Archaeology, both of whom have some data of their own and an ongoing interest with the continuation of locating and identifying wrecks in the area.
The targeted shipwrecks have yet to be identified, most with considerable conflicting opinions as to the name of the ship. It will take detailed surveys and subsequent research and exchanging of information to put enough pieces together to confidently draw conclusions. Most wrecks were wooden, so the surveys will be of remaining contents of the ships, such as cannons, mortars, and even some ivory tusks. See Appendix 1 for a list of target wreck sites.
Through the Shipwreck Project there is detailed sonar data of objects recorded for the target shipwrecks. This information is proprietary to a small collection of individuals involved with the Shipwreck project and it is not available to the public. This is because of the significant cost and time associated with hiring a towed sonar to survey the coastline. Since then, some of the wrecks have been dived by individuals interested in ‘just a visit and a look’ without gathering any useful data. We will be building on the survey information by underwater searching, mapping, and identifying the remains of the wrecks to the fullest extent possible.
This will hopefully lead to the identification of at least one wreck by sharing the information with the English Heritage and Wessex Archaeology, and possibly by subsequent investigations by this dive team.
The data will be collected with the aim of submitting a written article for publication in the BSAC magazine. As well as collecting and sharing of information, it is hoped that this expedition will actively promote further interest by other divers to continue with searching, surveying and supporting the identification of wrecks along the Dorset coast.
The targeted dive sites are on either side of Portland Bill, which will allow us to move to one side or the other depending on conditions. All sites are within sight of land. Most of the wrecks are a result of storms blowing up from the South and driving the ships onto the rocks.
The average depth of the wrecks is 25 to 35 metres. Mixed gas diving is not necessary, although we will be seeking to extend bottom times as much as possible to survey and collect as much data as possible. Therefore Nitrox back gas and/or richer decompression mixes will be ideal.
Expected to be about £450 per person for diving and accommodation. Food, travel and gas will be additional cost.
Contact Cameron Cromwell for more details or to register your interest.