Drift and Reef Dives

We are lucky in Swanage to have some really nice Reef Dives, on spring tides you can get water in the 12-16m range, ideal for a second dive, moving at up to 3.5kts. Its the nearest to flying underwater you can get, the closer you get you're nose to the bottom the faster is seems you're moving. It's very important that you use a red SMB and that it is used from the start of a drift dive. It puts years on my life waiting to see if the diver will come up near where I think he should be. Yellow SMBs are poor in the suns reflection! Round red and white ones should be sent back to Italy with a hole in them!

There is a nice site by Anvil point Light house on the old mussel beds, an area of no mussels! They used to extend out 300-400m from the cliffs but some years ago now they decided to legged it, well, they would have if mussels had legs!.

You can drift on the ebb or flood as there is no obstructions going east to west. The water will gradually get deeper at the end of any drift in this area. Average depth is approx 15-17m.

2 hours after high water Kyarra you can dive the Peveril Ledge just to the east of Swanage, a nice area with gullies 2-15m deep. You should try and keep inside the buoy as it can shelve away to 27m close to the east. There is a deep pit 300m to the SE of the buoy (The well) and its 38m deep not a place to visit on a second dive. However some experienced divers have done the dive, which they claimed was very enjoyable. This site is not divable when spring ebbs away.


The below video of the Peveril ledge was very kindly filmed and edited by James Clark.


If the weather is from the SW it may not be possible to dive the above sites, you can always try Old Harry 2 miles from Swanage. Old Harry was used as target practice by Spitfire's in the World War II. 20mm shells are regularly picked up. Average depth approx 15m, but can be deeper if requested.

Another area that can be drifted is St Aldhelm's Head, a ledge of rock that extends 5 miles out to sea. With 10-20m depth on top of the ledge and a sometimes steep bank towards the west, you should only dive this area on, and after, a neap low slack. When the tide sets, you will be pushed gently at first, back up the bank. If you try to dive on high slack, the ebb will take you down the slope. The deepest hole is 50m+. Please take care here its no novice drift!!!

Just to the SE of the Peveril Buoy is a very deep hole (38m) avoid this on ebb tides. We have only just started diving here, in a bid to find new sites we tried to drift to the east of the hole. The drift is really good, depth ranging from 20-30m with lots of rock formations, fish and changes of bottom. Only dive here on flood tides and as a first dive remember the hole is 38m deep!

We have a small fishing boat called the ‘Fleur de Lys’ situated at the north side of Swanage bay. To find it take a line from the corner of Ballard point to Swanage pier. 300 metres from the cliff you will find the shot line with two buoys, one black, one orange. It is only a small wreck 45-50’ long and stands in 13 metres of water. It can be dived at any state of the tide and is ideal for novice/open water divers. Look both in and under the wreck as it is surprising how much life there is on it, you can then take a drift but you must send up an SMB.H We have a small fishing boat called the ‘Fleur de Lys’ situated at the north side of Swanage bay. To find it take a line from the corner of Ballard point to Swanage pier. 300 metres from the cliff you will find the shot line with two buoys, one black, one orange. It is only a small wreck 45-50’ long and stands in 13 metres of water. It can be dived at any state of the tide and is ideal for novice/open water divers. Look both in and under the wreck as it is surprising how much life there is on it, you can then take a drift but you must send up an SMB.

The Tanville ledge is a shallow (10m) reef suitable for novice divers as there is very little tide and is sheltered from all winds except from the east. The reef is approx 2m high, plenty of life including crabs, lobsters and fish.