Dive Sites around Portland

1. Ferrybridge

Ferrybridge is where the Fleet meets the harbour, and being quite a narrow opening is quite tidal. There is a slipway for launching RIBs, useful to access harbour wrecks. Dive at slack water (1hr after HW Portland), depths under the bridge are 4-5m at HW. On the Fleet side it is shallow and occasionally used for training.

2. Chesil Beach

Chesil CoveChesil beach can be dived along most of its length, however the most accessible spot is Chesil Cove at the far east end of the beach. Parking at Chiswell, at the end of the road there is a promenade with steps down at the far end. Entering the water roughly opposite to these steps, the diver will find a steeply sloping pebble seabed sloping down into about 4-5m water with small boulders and kelp. A disused metal sewer pipe starts here and runs out about 100m ending in about 12m water with clearer sandy patches. Cuttlefish are commonly found here in the summer, and crabs and lobsters may be spotted among the rocks. Currents are slight and so the cove can be dived at most states of the tide, however due to the sloping nature of the beach exist from the water can be difficult if there is much surf.

3. Balaclava Bay

Balaclava Bay is OK for a scallop or crab hunt or if there is a big south westerley preventing diving elsewhere, otherwise it is a little featureless. Depth is in the 12-15m range, and for most of the time the current is flowing southwards towards Grove Point. If you leave things too long or the current is stronger than usual, you can end up in Fiddler's Race which can be hazardous.

4. The Dredger

The remains of an old dredger can be found close to the breakwater a few hundred yards to the west ot the outer south ship entrace to the harbour in about 10m on a sandy seabed. Much broken, there is two parts to the wreck, which were connected by a length of rope last time I dived it. It's only really suitable for training or night dives. There isn't any current to speak of and it is very sheltered from all but easterlies.

5. HMS Hood

HMS HoodHMS Hood was sunk in 1914 as a block ship - to block the southern entrance to the harbour from German U-boats. At 14150 tons and 100m long she is certainly large. She sank upside down, with her hull about 6m depth. The seabed is sand and bits of wreckage with a depth of 15-18m, with loads of spider crabs about. Because of her position in the harbour entrance, there is a large amount of water trying to get through/over her when the tide is running, so it is very wise to dive on slack. If not, avoid holes in the wreck which can suck the unwary in! Penetration is not advised unless you are trained in overhead environments. The shot line branches at 6m, take the one heading east and down. For a change, go over the top and down the harbour side - often the viz is better as most divers seem to stay the sea side! At the far end the seabed slopes up to about 6m where there is usually a large shoal of pollack.

6. Bombadon Unit

The Bombardon unit lies just off the breakwater wall in a general depth of 12m. Large 'X' shaped sections remain. It's a bit silty and advisable to keep off the bottom.

7. ???

8. Landing Craft

About 70m north of the Bombardon unit is the wreck of a small landing craft. Again a bit silty.

9. Enecuri

The Enecuri, sometimes known as the Spaniard, was a small steamer of 2385 tons. She drifted onto the breakwater on 28th Dec 1900. All the crew escaped, but the captain and his dog returned the next day and were drowned when the ship sank. Divers working on the wreck a few years later apparently found the skeletons in one of the cabins. She lies on her port side with her bows at number 84 on the breakwater wall, and her stern just south of number 86. Depth to the seabed is around 18m, with the bows reaching up to around 8m. The wreck is very silty and visibility can quickly reduce to nil.

About 70m north of the Enecuri is a barge in about 12m lying against the base of the breakwater.

10. Chequered Fort

Outside the harbour, near the Chequered Fort, are reputedly two large steel tanks about 4m high in 13m. I've never found them, but there is a variety of general debris scattered along the outer breakwater, and often plenty of life amongst the rocks.

11. Sea Otter

On the harbour side of the Chequered Fort is a tiny sheltered harbour. In the middle at a depth of 7m lies the wreck of the Sea Otter, a small fishing vessel that sank in 1993.

12. The Countess of Erne

Sidescan sonar view of the CountessThe Countess is an 825 ton paddle steamer built in 1868, which was converted to a coal hulk and moored by the breakwater wall inside Portland Harbour, near the East entrance. She broke loose and sank in 1935. She is about 80m long. She now lies in about 13m water close to the breakwater lying upright in a somewhat silty seabed. The shot line is on the stern which is at 6m. There's no current to speak of so it is a good novice dive. The wreck has 3 large holds which are safe to enter, and you can swim from one end of the wreck to the other under the deck, although it's very easy to kick up the silt and reduce viz to nil. There's usually a large shoal of pollack in or around the wreck. Red band fish have been sighted around a bit of wreckage about 10m off the starboard side near the bit of junk visible in the lower right hand corner of the sonar image.

13. Bombardon Unit

About 25m north of the Countess is another Bombardon unit lying in around 13m.