print dive site review | contribute site info / photo
Scuba Diving South Coast England, UK, Europe
Dive Site: Fleur de Lys / Swanage Bay drift
Location: 50°37.4N; 001°56.0W Swanage Bay
Description: Fishing boat wreck & drift dive
Length: 16.4 metres (54 feet)
Depth: 13 metres (43 feet)
Visibility: 2 metres (7 feet)
The Fleur de Lys was built in Brittany in 1969. She was 16.4 metres long, constructed
from oak, and weighed about 45 tons. She was bought over to British waters from
France when she was purchased by Nick Brust in 1989. On Sunday 16th April 2000,
four people were on board the Fleur de Lys on their way back to Brixham from a
fishing trip around Alderney. They had been having problems with the hot water
system as steam was coming from the taps rather than water. At 15.12 there was
an explosion as a result of pressure build up that ruptured the hot water storage
cylinder. The damage to the hull from the explosion caused the boat to begin sinking
18 miles southwest of Portland Bill in Dorset. The onboard liferaft failed to
inflate and the crew found themselves rapidly submerged in water. A Mayday was
sent out that was responded to by several vessels as well as a coastguard helicopter,
which recovered all four crew 16 minutes later suffering only from cold and minor
injuries. Unsuccessful attempts were made to raise the Fleur de Lys whilst she
was being towed on passage to Poole, and so she was abandoned in Swanage Bay.
The Fleur de Lys is located just inside Swanage Bay as you head out towards
Old Harry and has a surface marker buoy permanently attached to it, so will not
need to be shotted. The small size of the wreck allows you to have a thorough
explore and it is even possible to do some penetration, but be wary of the huge
metal nails sticking out from the sides! A good idea for a dive plan is to begin
with a circuit of the wreck to get an overall impression before going back to
hunt for life or do some penetration. If your dive time allows it, you can drift
off in the current to explore the nearby seabed but there is certainly more marine life in the vicinity of the wreck. The silty bottom of the bay means
that the visibility is frequently limited to a few metres but you may still see
a lot of life such as gobies, blennies and wrasse. If you take a torch down with
you use it to look in the areas sheltered from the current by the wreck, and look
under rocks for crabs.
Fleur de Lys update 2008:
The Fleur has become more and more broken up over the last few years, exposing more of the interior of the wreck to make it a more interesting dive but preventing penetration. As time has passed the wreck has become a good home for marine life. Shoals of bib are always present on the wreck and certainly since August 2008 a lobster and conger can be found in the engine room area. Every crack and crevice seems to yield some kind of critter, with squat lobsters, velvet swimming crabs and leach's spider crabs being spotted for those with keen eyes.
Dived the wreck at Easter and found a lot of monofilament gill netting around the bow. As it’s often an early season training dive thought I'd flag it up.
Nick Reed, Dive Leader | 01/05/2009
A simple dive, great to get newly qualified divers into the sea from a hard boat or rib. Vis varies as with any dive site! A pleasant way to complete the dive is to drift off the wreck and to ascend and complete safety stop using an SMB.
Paul A Watts
- The vis is very bad so take torches.
- The shot line is held up with 2 very small buoys that barely hold the weight of the rope. When ascending, you can't use the shot line to safety stop as it just sinks so send up a delayed SMB & hang off of that for your 3 min grey water safety stop.
- A very worthwhile & fun dive but stay on your toes.
Prior to the Fleur being salvaged, a beam trawler snagged its gear on the wreck, resulting in the loss of the cabin and masts.
The normal practice for diving the Fleur is to attach an additional buoy to the shot line before the divers enter the water.
I dived this site on Friday 25/03/05 at the top of a spring tide, the vis was 2-3m and was made worst by new divers training on the wreck. That said it is a great second or evening dive and well worth the boat trip.
My first open water dive many dives ago. It's an easy starter - shallow with reasonable vis both times I have visited. Swanage is a nice place but get on the pier for about 7am or you won't get a parking space. You can go back to your hotel afterwards for breakfast or sleep but get the car parked 1st or you will have to walk down with your gear from other car parks much further away! Not much to see without a torch as it's very small and dark inside...losing the bridge has made it hard to recognise as it's rotting on its side with a huge hole. Nice to see but get on early as seabed will be quickly stirred up by beginners.
I went diving on the wreck to complete my ocean diver and considering it was my first wreck it was awesome!!! The vis was good and we saw some fish, crabs etc.
I recently dived this site, it was a lovely day, the sun was out, the water was like a mill pond and the viz was very good. There was a lot of life on it including some big eels. I also found a video tape which I pulled out of the wreckage but decided to leave it there, I came up the shot line and did my safety stop without any problems, although there was a good current on it and I was playing superman for 3 minutes. I had a cracking day over all and martin the skipper of the Mary Jo was a really helpful guy.
Good wreck for beginners, strong currents though. I found myself having to stay in the shelter of the wreck to avoid it.
After a scout around the wreck we did a small drift. Well what we thought was a small drift! In the space of around 3 to 5 minutes we had drifted over 200 or more meters away from the shot!
But all in all a good dive.
A great little dive. I took my boys newly qualified for their first wreck dive there. The depth is a 'safe' 13 metres and the visibility good (about 5 metres). There is lots of life and plenty to see but it is small and easily completed in twenty to thirty minutes. We dived in early August 2009.
Mark Grey | 29/12/2010
Do you have any comments on this dive site?
print dive site review | contribute site info / photo | top
Do you run a dive operation in this area?
Click here to find out more about being listed on this
page in dive site directory.