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Scuba Diving South Coast England, UK, Europe
Dive Site: The Alaunia
Location: 50°41'03''N; 00°27'17''W, 7.5 miles from Eastbourne
Description: Steamship, Cunard liner
Length: 173 metres (568 feet)
Depth: 12 metres to bow (39 feet), 30 metres to sea floor (100 feet)
Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)
The Alaunia is the largest wreck in Sussex waters. It sank in October 1916 after hitting a German mine, killing two of the 166 passengers that were on board. The wreck lies at a 45 degree angle on the port side and the bow points to the east. It is fairly broken up amidships, so much so that it is not easy to decide what is what. However there is a row of portholes that can be followed that still contain glass, although it is sometimes cracked. The bridge area towards the bow is more intact and the anchor still hangs from a chain. Because of the colossal size of the wreck and being limited to diving on slack, at least three dives need to be made on it in order to explore it fully. There is an abundance of life on the Alaunia: shoals of bib, solitary wrasse and the occasional bass, huge lobsters, many spider crabs and dead mans fingers. Launch from Eastbourne's Sovereign Harbour.
This has been one of my best dives in the UK so far. I was incredibly glad to finally get onto the wreck after too long on the surface and puking! Once down I was very pleased to be surrounded by lots of marine life and good viz. Take a good torch to hunt for stuff and appreciate the colours of the cuckoo wrasse that live on it. There are also huge shoals of friendly bib that like divers and come very close. I also saw quite a few common starfish and dead man's fingers with their polyps out. Not forgetting 'massive' spider crabs... This would be an excellent photo dive for next time!! The wreck is also apparently infested with congers too... I ended the dive at a big boiler, I can't really comment on the actual wreck as I spent the dive concentrating on the marine life and didn't swim that far.
Carina Hall, PADI Divemaster
I dived the wreck early June, weather dependent on how nice a trip out there you will have.
After attaching the shot line I had to stop and turn my torch off. I was surrounded by dead man's fingers and the wreck was very populated by a variety of good sized fish, great to see this much variety in the UK. Relatively intact and nice dive for marine life fans or for the wrecker. Not much to penetrate and careful as many sharp edges, check out the anchor at the bow. Deck is about 26m, bottom at just 30m, temp 14 degrees C.
A wreck well worth the journey. Watch for plankton boom in the first 6m!
Ousmon Sadique, BSAC Dive Leader
I have just bought a plaque which has on it a black horses head,and the name 'Alaunia' above it. The plaque is about 2 ft 6 ins high and heavy. There is a lot of writing on the back of the wood that it is screwed to, I was told it came off a ship that sank during the war, any info would be helpful
I have a concert programme from the Alaunia from January 1914 when my grandparents came over from England. It is so awesome to know people can still see her even though she was sunk.
The Alaunia is a fantastic wreck to dive if the weather/vis is right! I enjoyed every second of this dive as we had THE perfect weather! Masses of fish life, also crabs, lobsters and scallops to see. Although keep an eye on your bottom time as it is very easy to go into deco on this wreck! Our dive charter Sussex Shipwrecks was very comfortable too - a very good day.
Olly Powell, PADI OWSI | 11/08/09
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