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Virtual Dive on historic Norman’s Bay Shipwreck now online

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Of the 53 protected wreck sites off the coast of England there are currently five (and more to come) that you can access via a protected wreck dive trail. For those who prefer to stay dry, there are now also virtual tours of some of these fascinating historic wrecks. The very nature of maritime archaeology, lying at the bottom of the seabed in an area only accessible by those with the right training and equipment, has meant that protected wreck sites have only engaged with a very small number of people.

Over recent years, Historic England has commissioned the development of 13 virtual dive trails on a number of these sites so that everyone can tour a historic shipwreck without getting wet. These virtual trails use new technologies such as multi-image photogrammetric recording, 3D printing of geophysical survey data and virtual reality and augmented reality techniques. These techniques allow viewers to see a clear 3D image of a site. Not only do they bring maritime archaeology to life for the non-diver, they’re a lot easier to interpret than more traditional geophysical survey techniques or photographs taken in poor visibility.

The Norman’s Bay Wreck Virtual Dive

The Norman’s Bay Wreck, off the Sussex coast, was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 2006. The site was discovered by local divers Martin Wiltshire, Steve Pace and Paul Stratford whilst trying to free a lobster pot in Pevensey Bay. Today the wreck site contains a cluster of at least fifty-one iron guns, timber hull structure and various other artefacts including a large anchor on top of a ballast mound. A copper alloy cauldron that was recovered by an anonymous local diver in the 1990s is now on display in The Shipwreck Museum in Hastings.

Wreck of a wooden man o war in Normans Bay near Eastbourne.

The exact identify of the wreck is still being researched but the archaeological and historical evidence suggests that the Norman’s Bay Wreck is actually that of a 17th century 64-gun Dutch Warship, the Wapen Van Utrecht which sank during the Battle of Beachy Head in 1690.

A recent paper published in the International Journal for Nautical Archaeology argued that of the ten Dutch ships lost in the Battle of Beachy Head, the Wapen Van Utrecht is the only plausible candidate for the Norman’s Bay Wreck. The Nautical Archaeology Society will continue to work on the site in 2018.

We have been diving on the Norman’s Bay Wreck since 2010 and have spent a lot of time trying to understand the extent of the site” advises Mark Beattie-Edwards, NAS Chief Executive Officer and a current licensee of the Norman’s Bay Wreck. Mark continues, “This year we are excited to be able to show the world what the site looks like on the Sussex seabed, through the development of the virtual dive. The project team hopes this new work can raise awareness and interest in this amazing piece of underwater cultural heritage.

Alison James, a maritime archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are really pleased to be able to open up another one of our protected wreck sites to a wider audience regardless of their age or abilities. We hope the virtual trails will inspire more people to take up diving and visit the sites themselves.

Check out the Norman’s Bay Wreck Diver Trail here.

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Breaking News: Captain charged in Conception boat fire tragedy

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According to reports in the international press today, it has been announced that the Captain of the dive boat Conception, which was completely destroyed by fire last year, resulting in the tragic loss of 34 passengers and crew, has been charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. 

The Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan was among five crew members to escape the blaze on board Conception, a dive boat operated by Truth Aquatics, which took place in the early hours of 2 September 2019 whilst the boat was moored offshore, close to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

The BBC reports that Mr Boylan has not publicly commented on the charges, and is expected to surrender to the authorities at a later date. According to the BBC, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Crossover to NAUI for FREE!

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As a boost to help the diving industry, NAUI are still offering a FREE Instructor cross-over course together with five free certifications to all Instructors. This can include Open Water, Advance, Rescue, Nitrox and various other specialities and can be mixed and matched so all five do not necessarily need to be for the same certification.

NAUI have also frozen the membership fees for 2021 for instructors crossing over or restarting.

NAUI’s Southern UK Rep Simon Lodge says: “Throughout this year, the diving industry has severely suffered so as a result, to help kickstart the diving industry NAUI will not be charging membership fees 2020/2021 to any new instructors.” 

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is one of the scuba industry’s largest not-for-profit agencies whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: A Higher Standard!

For more details please contact Simon Lodge (Southern UK Rep) on simon@europe.naui.org or Craig Warner (Northern UK Rep) on cwarner@europe.naui.org.

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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