News

Alternative Air Source – New Guidelines

In Europe divers should be aware that there have been changes to European Standard EN250. This Standard concerns the manufacture of underwater breathing apparatus. The changes concern how alternate air sources are used.

As equipment manufactured under the requirements of the previous version of the standard will be around for many years, the implentation of these changes will be slow. However, divers should be aware of these changes and know when to implement some of the changes concerning the configuration of alternate air sources.

The main changes that will affect any regulators manufactured in accordance with the new (2014) version of the standard are as follows:

  • An octopus rig is not a preferred option if the depth is greater than 30m or the water temperature is less than 10°C, instead an alternative fully independent system is advised.
  • Regulator first stages which are not designed for cold water performance shall be marked with “>10°C”.
  • Regulator first stages may be marked with a lower working temperature if specified by the manufacturer.
  • Regulators first stages will be stamped with an “A” if they are compatible to be fitted with an alternate air source (octopus rig).

These changes will come into effect gradually as more regulators are manufactured according to the revised standard. If you have any questions on how you can use a particular regulator, you should approach the manufacturer for advice.

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Brighton Offshore MCZ

Overview

In January 2016 the area  located in the eastern English Channel, approximately 45km south of Selsey Bill, West Sussex has been designated the Brighton Offshore Marine Conservation Zone

Location

The area covering some 862sqKm stretches from Brighton to the West and the southerly edges touch onto the median line with French Waters.The actual position is the area bounded by the following coordinates:

  • 50 22.916N 0 17.895W (North East)
  • 50 13.162N 0 15.583W (South East)
  • 50 08.172N 0 52.990W (South West)
  • 50 19.239N 0 54.20W (North West)

Habitat

The seabed in the Brighton Offshore MCZ is predominantly coarse sands, gravel and shingle with areas of exposed bedrock and mixed sediments. There is a diverse range of species found living within the sediments. Hydroids, bryozoans and sponges occupy the boulders and cobbles, where hermit crabs and starfish also thrive. Burying animals such as worms, sea anemones, burrowing anemones, carpet shell clams, venus cockles and other bivalves live within the mixed sediments

Management

The purpose of the MCZ is to protect features of this habitat. Activities will continue in this area that maintain the current situation, but will be reviewed if a deteriation is recorded. Activities that harm the environment will be limited to allow the location to recover. Benthic trawling will almost certainly be restricted.

More Information

Defra – Brighton Offshore MCZ

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

JNCC/Defra Brighton Offshore Assessment Document

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Brighton Pollack Fishing Competition 2015

For the third year, I have taken part in the Brighton Pollack fishing competition sponsored by Daiwa. The competition this year took place on March 17th. For a change we were blessed with good weather which improved during the day, until we could sit in T-shirts in the sunshine.

Pollock fishing out in the shipping lanes

Pollock fishing out in the shipping lanes

This year we headed slightly East and started with a few drifts on the wreck of HMS Keryado. This was to break up the journey and get the rods all set up as everyone wanted. Just one pollack weighing about 5lbs was caught so we headed further out into the shipping lanes. A good few fish were caught up to about 8lbs. A final move resulted in catching a lot of Pouting.

A fair number of fish caught but not not large enough for a prize. So I will have to make do with the cup for the best cup of tea for the day.

Award for the Best Cup of Tea

Award for the Best Cup of Tea

The top prize for the largest pollack went to Alan Coombs at 16lb 12Oz. The junior prize went to Michael Parker who landed a 12lb pollack

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AIS now fitted

AIS Transponder on Defiance

AIS Transponder on Defiance

AIS on-board

Defiance has been fitted with an Automatic Identification System or AIS for short.  It is not compulsory for vessels to have AIS. Only larger vessels of 300 tons or more and passenger vessels are required to have it. AIS is an additional safety system on the boat and it has been fitted to improve the safety of passengers on-board.

Uses of AIS

The information can be used in several ways:

  1. Collision Avoidance
    The speed, direction and location of vessels close by can be used to calculate if they are on a collision course with you. AIS receivers have alarms to warn if there is a possible risk to enable early action to be taken. With divers in the water the identity of the approaching vessel can be used to directly call them to avoiding action. A great safety tool.
  2. Vessel Traffic Services, Fishing monitoring and control, Maritime Security
    Not very relevant to smaller craft but large vessels can be monitored and tracked through busy shipping areas.
  3. Aid to Navigation
    Ports, Buoys and other navigation aids such as lighthouses are often fitted with AIS transmitters to aid navigation. These positions will show up on plotters to help with navigation. It is possible for virtual transmissions to be sent to mark points that will show up on the ships plotter
  4. Search and Rescue
    Not only is the last position and data of a vessel recorded to help in search and rescue. The system also identifies ships in the area that can be used to assist in any emergency.
  5. Accident investigation
    The tracks of vessels leading up to a collision or other incident is vital to understanding the actions of the captains and a great help in accident investigation.

How does AIS Work?

The system contains three major parts linked into a box of tricks:

  1. A position location receiver such as a GPS receiver, Galileo or Loran
  2. A VHF Receiver to receive details from other vessels
  3. A VHF Transmitter to send details of the vessel

The system uses the GPS position of the vessel to calculate the speed and direction of the boat. This information is then broadcast by a VHF transmitter to other craft in the area. Likewise all other vessels transmit similar information. So the basic information gathered for all vessels is:

  • Identity including the unique Marine Mobile Identity Service Number (MMSI)
  • Time of message
  • Position sent as latitude and longditude
  • Speed and Heading
AIS track of Defiance during testing. Shown on Marine Traffic Website

AIS track of Defiance during testing. Shown on Marine Traffic Website

This information can be picked up and displayed for all to see. For example on Marine Traffic Website. Applications for moble phones as well as most modern chart plotters can display AIS information. Most systems have some type of display, but this is not actually necessary.

In addition to the basic information the name, size and destination along with much more information is possible.

This information is transmitted regularly by the boat usually every 30 seconds but more complex systems can alter this depending on speed. e.g. at anchor they will only transmit every 3 minutes but at high speed may transmit every 2 seconds, which is as fast as conventional Radar systems. These systems use a special system called SOTDMA ( Self-Organized Time Division Multiple Access) which books time slots when they will transmit data. Simpler systems use carrier-sense time-division multiple-access (CSTDMA) whereby they look for a free slot to transmit just before making their transmission.

AIS uses VHF channels 87B (161.975 MHz) and 88B (162.025 MHz). The Class A transmitters transmit at 12.5W which are the type used on large vessels. Class B transmitters are used on smaller craft and transmit at 2W meaning they can broadcast their information between 5-10 miles. Large vessels are required to have some type of visual display on board, but this is not true for Class B transmitters.

 

 

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Winter Boat Trips

As winter approaches we generally think that it will be dark and grey. However, if we seize those sunny days for a winter boat trip we can see our country at its best. Cold crisp days are ideal for a trip like this one a few days ago. Sea conditions can be be exceptionally good and these are the days to see our beautiful coastline such as the Severn Sisters Country Park and Beachy Head.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

What makes winter boat trips extra special is the potential for very good visibility which you do not seem to get in the summer months when the heat often gives a haze or mist in the distance. The sun being much lower allows us to see the countours of the coastline highlighted by the shadows. The sun often treats us to much warmer yellow tones in the afternoon making the landscape seem much warmer.

Approaching Beachy Head

Approaching Beachy Head

The retun trip from Brighton to Beachy Head takes about 4 hours. On the way, the activity of Brighton gives way to residential areas of Rottingdean and Saltdean, but before getting there the imposing Roedean School standing alone on the cliff top can be seen. Other notible landmarks such Blind Veterans UK and Rottingdean Windmill can be seen, before crossing the Greenwich Meridian. Following this the port of Newhaven and Seaford Bay is passed before the Seven Sisters cliffs lead up to Beachy Head.

Beach Head Light House

Beach Head Light House


This is a relaxed trip with plenty to see and one of the longer winter boat trips available from Brighton. Alternative shorter trips are along Brighton Seafront which will take about an hour.

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Tagged Black Bream

The Sussex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA) has released tagged black bream into the Sussex Coastal Waters. The area of the release is Kingmere Rocks, the newly designated Marine Conservation Zone.

The purpose of taggingthe fish is to gain an understanding of the movement and behaviour of black bream. This information will be used to improve the management of the conservation zone.

The project relies on the information returned for the tagged black bream. The involvement of fishermen to report any tagged fish they may catchis paramount. As an incentive IFCA are running a prize draw to those returning information.

The plastic identification tags are attached next to the dorsal fin (the large fin at the top) and are about 75mm long. They come in three colours: flourescent green, red or blue.  Each tag has a reference number on it, which is used to identify the particular fish. The Green tags are particularly important as the fish has an acoustic tracking device fitted.

It is very important to return all fish unharmed if they are caught. You can download the original document from IFCA which gives further details on what to do if you find a tagged black bream

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HSE Recreational Diving – Approved Code of Practice

The HSE have published a guidance book on the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 for recreational diving projects.

HSE Approved Code of Practice

HSE Approved Code of Practice

This Approved Code of Practice is one of five Codes that give advice on meeting the Diving at Work Regulations 1997. The Code applies to divers who are engaged in recreational diving projects.
Among the areas covered are: responsibilities of clients, contractors, supervisors and divers; project plans and risk assessment; diving teams and working practices; diving plant and its maintenance; medical checks.

The Code of Practice applies to projects where at least one person is employed or self-employed and engaged in work and recreational divers and the purpose of the project is recreational diving, that is diving carried out by a person for recreational purposes while not at work.

The Code of Practice  covers  instruction and being a dive guide, underwater journalists, stills photography.
A free downloadable copy is available from the HSE Recreational Diving – Approved Code of Practice.
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Beachy Head West – Marine Conservation Zone

Marine Conservation Zones – MCZ

In November 2013 the minister announced the designation of 27 MCZs in English inshore and English and Welsh offshore waters and outlined plans for future zones.

You can see the location of the 27 designated sites and find out further information about each site at JNCC Interactive Map.

Beachy Head West MCZ extends to about 0.5Nm offshore from Beachy Head and continues all the way to Brighton Marina with only a small break around the entrance to Newhaven Port. The extent of the MCZ can be seen here. The zone was designated mainly for specific species and environments found in the area. Among the species are Seahorses (hippocampus hippocampus and hippocampus guttulatus) and the Native Oyster (ostrea edulis). The unique environment is the sub-littoral chalk and blue mussel beds.

 MCZ Management

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 sets up the MCZs. In conjunction with new Organisation to produce marine plans, administer marine environmental licensing, manage marine fisheries and enforce environmental protection laws.

Recently I have agreed to cover the MCZ tranche 1 meetings for the SE region. The South East Region has 4 MCZs including Thanet Coast, Beachy Head West, Kingmere and Pagham Harbour. I am looking forward to playing my part in protecting these sites and producing a sustainable plan to manage theses environments for the future.

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SeaSearch 2013

Extract from SeaSearch Report

Extract from SeaSearch Report

Defiance has been thanked for in the SeaSearch report for 2013. In 2013 Defiance Charters continued to be a big supporter of the SeaSearch project. Defiance is pictured above on a survey of the Kingmere Rocks and the nesting sites for Black Sea Bream. A full copy of the report can be found here NEWSLETTER2013EDIT1

In 2014 Defiance hopes to work again with SeaSearch. Plans include running Observer Courses at Brighton Marina with Defiance giving the opportunity to do the practical diving.

The South West Rocks Survey mentioned in the Seasearch report with conjunction with Brighton Marina Divers is hoped to be expanded and improved in the coming year. Paul Jackman the skipper of Defiance inserted the reference tags in the rocks for the regular surveys.

Lastly the gathering of more data for the Beachy Head West marine conservation zone is planned. Seasearch is fundamental source of biodiversity data contributing to the approval of these zones.

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2014 Improvements

New improved Defiance back on her mooring

New improved Defiance back on her mooring

On Valentines day Defiance was lifted out of the water for some routine maintenance and some improvements that should make Defiance a better experience for everyone. She was out of the water for 4 weeks. A relatively short time, but a great deal was done. Not all of the improvements are obvious.

So What has been done?

New Seating Improvements

The main obvious change is the new seating layout on deck. The previous seating was along the edge with the main walkway in the middle. New deck fittings allow the seats to be easily moved and re-bolted to the deck in a matter of minutes.  Now the seats can also be central with access along the outside. Much better for fishing. Better for spotting wildlife and does give a bit more space for diving with the area under the gunwhales accessible for gear storage.

New central seating arrangement

New central seating arrangement

New Safety Improvements

The Marine Accident Investigation Bureau report on a diver slipping over  on a charter vessel in Scotland has prompted Defiance to actively improve the safety on-board. A new anti-slip surface to the deck has been applied to the deck. Additional handholds like those found on buses and trams can now be attached to the overhead rails to help anyone on deck when the vessel rolls.

New Anti-Slip Coating to deck

New Anti-Slip Coating to deck

 

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