Predominantly covering the Kent coastline around Ramsgate, Dover and Folkstone, Mutiny Diving is operated by Chris Webb out of the Dover Marina. This is primarily a wreck diving dive centre, the Dover Straits littered with wreckage from two World Wars and numerous 1700’s and 1800’s maritime disasters.
What Can You Expect?
There will be either one or two dives a day. Unlike other areas around the British coastline, diving the Dover Straits is totally dependent on slack water. Slack water is calculated either before or after high tide and depending on how many high tides in daylight hours will mandate how many dives a day you will get.
Normally divers are asked to meet half an hour before the published ropes off time, allowing enough time to get your kit on board. Most divers typically arrive an hour beforehand to set up their kit.
Once onboard, divers can relax and make themselves at home with a mug of tea before Chris explains the operation of the dive boat, safety briefing and ‘target’ dive site.
Now, we say ‘target’ dive site as it may not always be the case that you dive the wreck that is published. Why? Sometimes the weather and water conditions change overnight and “chasing the visibility” can mandate hopping from one dive site to another to find the best visibility.
Divers normally get a pre-plunge warning to kit up and once the shot is deployed onto the wreck, a final orientation briefing and ascent instructions. That is either “line out and back up the shot” or “bag off” depending on visibility and shipping lane location.
After your dive and back on board, you will be welcomed home with another hot drink and if lucky, a savoury hot sausage roll, pasty, sweet toasted currant bun or toasted malt loaf. Then it’s a slow steam back to Dover.
Back at port and if just one dive, it’s time to unload, say your goodbyes and peddle off home. If divers are in town for two dives, then it’s two or three hours surface interval to the next slack water, enough time to enjoy a late breakfast or lunch. Those needing gas refills or top-ups can hoof it on up to “the workshop” with still enough time for a nibble.
Weather, Tidal Flow And Visibility
There seems a common misconception that there is always terrible visibility in the Dover Strait waters for divers. This is not necessarily correct and is dependent on the weather and tidal flow.
Although the ebbing tide from the Thames Estuary is considered ‘dirty’ compared to the flooding ‘clean’ tide from the Atlantic, dive sites will be suggested accordingly to minimise the particulate in the water. Whether your dive day is sunny or overcast will stipulate the darkness. Normally the particulate is at shallower depths, while dark but clear visibility is found at deeper depths. Whether the dive site is inshore or offshore will also affect water clarity.
On one hand, dark and minimal visibility diving scouring the seabed for treasure and trinkets does focus the mind in a smaller area, while on the other, gin-clear water can make a perfect photography shot. Dive expecting 3 to 4 metres. Anything less can be considered bad and anything more, good.
The Dive Boat
Diving With Confidence
Most dive sites are within the 25 metres to 30 metres range as the channel is quite shallow. A little further into the shipping lanes and some deeper 40 metres to 50 metres sites can be found. When Chris publishes a dive site, he will advertise the approximate depth. If the site is changed on the day, it will still be within the advertised depth.
Open circuit divers will typically dive a Nitrox mix on EN32 giving a MOD of 34 metres at PO2 1.4, though EN34 with a 32 metre MOD is reasonable. Don’t forget that if you’re using one cylinder and topping up with air during the surface interval, to test the mix and reset your dive computer.
You will need a powerful light and DSMB for sure, most divers opting for a secondary backup light, DSMB and face mask.
As we have said, visibility can be varying and many times, better than the inland quarries. However, it can be daunting for first-time divers to Dover, so you have to be confident and dive within your training and personal boundaries.
Tools For The Job
You will have guessed by now that visibility is a key factor of diving with Mutiny Divers. One of two mandatory requirements is a torch. Not only for lighting and direction finding but more importantly signalling in poor visibility. Make sure it’s fully charged and ideally take a second as backup. The second mandated requirement is a reel. Depending on the wreck dive site, in either poorer visibility or ship lane location, the likelihood is that you will be required to ascend the shot. You will reel out from a secure point from the shot, tying off as you go and reeling back. If you have come up the PADI training ladder, you should be au fait with these concepts in your Wreck Diver and Night Diver Specialities.
Closely linked with the reel is your DSMB and again a mandatory requirement. Sometimes you maybe given the option to ascend a DSMB. Indeed, many divers prefer this option.
Ensure the reel and DSMB is of an adequate size to reach and be seen at the surface and easily deployed. And here’s the important bit. Each and every diver should carry their own DSMB and ideally two. Mutiny Divers ask that divers ascending via a DSMB should do so as an individual not a buddy pair. This is to account for the actual number of divers ascending, not buddy pairs confused as separated buddies.
This brings us nicely to the topic of separated/lost diver protocol. Not a physical tool, but a mental attitude of self sufficiency. Many of the regular divers I have met at Dover have taken the SDI Solo Course. Not because they have no mates to dive with, but in case of buddy separation or planned earlier ascent of a buddy pair, they are happy to make the upward journey alone via shot or DSMB. At dive planning stage, agree with your buddy your intended ascension route as a pair, but be prepared for the possibility of separation in poorer visibility and your intended backup plan. The basics of the PADI Open Water course instructs us to ascend on our own anyhow, in case of buddy separation and part of the learned skills is use of a DSMB. Be prepared therefore to ascend on your own or as a buddy pair on your own and individual DSMB. If you have not deployed a DSMB before or are a little rusty, please get instruction or practice your skills beforehand. Be intimate with your equipment and ensure you understand user instructions and deployment. In poorer visibility, you will naturally stick close with your buddy, however on a small wreck with a number of divers, confusion can easily set in and separation occur. It has happened before and will happen again. All we are saying is and especially as a novice diver, be prepared.
Hence is it important to carry your own reel and DSMB and ideally, carry a spare smaller spool, compact DSMB and spare mask in your drysuit pocket.
Not withstanding the aforementioned topic on tidal range, most dive sites are around the 30 metre range. Unless diving less than a 15 litre cylinder, experience suggests that your bottom time is likely to be limited to your NDL rather than gas usage. Confirm the anticipated wreck site to be dived at time of booking and select an appropriate Nitrox mix. A good all rounder would be a 32% mix at a PPO2 of 1.4 dictating a MOD of 34 metres. Tell the skipper of your Nitrox mix blend as you board as this will also be a contributing factor to any eleventh hour ‘chasing the viz’ dive site selection.
And There Is Treasure
Treasure, Spidge And Receiver Of Wreck
- Ships bell
- Telegraph / telemotor
- Compass binnacle
- Steam whistle
- Nice brass Nav or deck
- Crockery & cutlery etc
Gallery Of Some Treasure And Spidge
How To Join A Dive?
Maverick berth and meeting point.
Kent, CT17 9BU
Office and workshop for gas fills.
Unit 9 The Glenmore Centre
White Cliffs Business Park
Kent , CT16 3FH
Popular Dive Sites
The seabed in the English Channel is littered with wreck sites and one thing you are guaranteed to dive is a shipwreck. That’s what the guys do in Dover. There are hundreds dotted around the area, some in shallow and some deeper waters. It pretty much stands to reason therefore that in low visibility, a more flattened or rotund wreck to be the order of the day. Replace the word ‘rotund’ with ‘U-Boat’ and ‘flattened’ with ‘ferreting for treasure’ and you will soon find that whatever the visibility conditions, you’ll have a cracking dive and the variation makes for much enjoyment and the desire to return to Dover time and again.