In 1971 Richard Harmer-Brown, Alan Turpin, George Newell and Bob Charlton (who worked for Brighton area GPO), decided to form a scuba diving club. With the help of the Civil Service Sports Association, BSAC Special Branch was born, ‘special’ because membership was restricted to GPO staff. By 1973 others wanted to join so the club changed its name to Newhaven and Seaford Sub-Aqua Club. Various other names were suggested, then in November 1993 discussions with Brighton Marina Yacht Club began and the club became Brighton Marina Yacht Club: Diving Section – a mouthful which has since become Brighton Marina Divers.
Various premises were used for meetings including a beach hut (at a cost of £1 per year), public houses, a hall, a hotel, printers and three versions of the BMYC clubhouse. Our latest premises (2015) are by far the most luxurious we have ever had. Joining BMYC has meant that as well as being part of a club full of friendly people, we do try to be active members rather than forming a cliquey ‘club within a club’, we’ve got storage space for our dive gear and our compressor, RIB and moorings for the RIB. We’re spoiled.
The club has had a variety of inflatables and RIBs, the first being a Terhi, then a Domino and a Seacraft. A Chinook was purchased in 1981 and then stolen in 1988. Following the insurance settlement the club purchased an Avon Searider which served faithfully for years. This was joined by a prototype, i.e. cheap BWM, which proved to be a disaster and had to be part exchanged with the makers for a newer model which was a lot better. Our current boat, a 6.3m Humber, was initially fitted with an inboard diesel engine but now has an outboard. In 2000 the club obtained a grant that enables us to buy six new dive sets for training new members. In 2002 an additional grant went most of the way towards buying us a superbly quiet and powerful compressor.
As well as diving simply for fun, the club has provided diving expertise for others, including assisting the warden of Michelham Priory by restoring the water wheel and doing underwater excavation in the moat until sewage contamination was found. There was a project to dive on a crashed aircraft found at Cuckmere. More recently, members have and continue to provide survey data for Seasearch (part of the Marine Conservation Society) and thus assisting in establishing Sussex Marine Conservation zones (see Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sussex Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority). In the past the club has, in mid-winter, floated down the Adur in aid of the RNLI Shoreham Life Boat and participated in the Lewes raft race.
A simple web search will reveal that there are hundreds of dive sites off the coast of Sussex many within a 45 minute ride on our RIB. These include wrecks from relatively recently, WW1, WW2 and earlier, plus important geological features of chalk, sandstone and clay. Sussex isn’t the only coast off which the club dives – other dives have included: Pembrokeshire, Galway, Weymouth, Lulworth, Falmouth, Oban, the Manacles, Plymouth and Swanage. Dives have also been organised overseas including the Channel Islands, Lanzarote, St Kilda, the Scilly Isles, Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh in the Red Sea, Gozo, Cuba, Grenada and Barbados.
Some of us are mad enough to enjoy diving out of Brighton all year round, but the majority of dives are done between late spring and early autumn when there are longer hours of day light and the sea is warmer. We also visit a range of sites to cater for the different levels of diver in the club. So join us! Dive, train, explore, help and socialise.