The ss Brest was a 1472 ton Cunard cargo ship. It ran aground in dense fog near Beast Point in 1879. It had been dived in the past, how recently we didn’t know. So, it wasn’t new, just new to us.
We were asked if we could help free a mussel rope by a recreational fisherman from Cadgwith, it had become entangled, others had tried to release it and failed. The fisherman had been talking with Dave, when they said it was next to the Brest, Dave offered our help.
Before we headed down, we thought we would do some research on the wreck and it’s location. What we found wasn’t what we expected, for such a recent wreck.
Beast Point is an old name for Bass Point, which lies just to the east of Lizard Point. The board of trade report usually has very accurate details of the sinking and the location, for some reason there is very little locational information within the report. The Hydrographic Office co-ordinates were listed as ‘Unreliable‘, making it near Kilcobben Cove, about one mile from Cadgwith. Another report stated it was wrecked near Polbarrow, which is half a mile from Cadgwith. A newspaper dated September 08, 1879 also listed the wrecks as striking the rocks at Polberro Point. Another paper stated that the Brest ran ashore between Church Cove and Polberro. The fishermen said it was on Whale Rock, the Hydrographic Chart has Whale Rock 0.8 miles from Cadgwith. Looking at older ordnance survey maps of the area, Whale rock is 200 yards closer to Cadgwith than the hydrographic chart shows. Dive reports listed a few scattered plates or a cave with encrusted material in it. Where were the fishermen going to take us? What would we see?
We headed out on their boat, to where the old charts listed Whale Rock. There were two buoys floating, that was the top of their mussel line. We jumped in with a line to tie to the anchors, then were to cut the mussel line free. The anchors were a mess, I tied the rope to them and cut off the main mussel line, job done. Now to look for the Brest. The fishermen told us to head straight towards Whale Rock, we had taken a bearing and headed along the reef. It wasn’t long before we saw a few ribs, then a few scattered plates. As we searched we found more and more, including an area where the decks had collapsed on each other, a large piece of the hull and even the remains of the bow. What we saw was more than the scattered plates that had been previously reported. There was also no sign of a cave. Were those reports of this location? Or were they of the hydrographic office’s location? Or the Whale Rock as on the hydrographic chart? We shall return and look at those locations as well, just in case.
ScubaFest is a scuba diving festival, organised by SITA, the Scuba Industry Trade Association. The Cornwall event is held at Pentewan Sands, a holiday park near Mevagissey, during the May Day bank holiday weekend. Pentewan Sands has a capacity for around one thousand people and based on Pentewan Beach, it is an ideal location. It also has an indoor swimming pool and a large club house. During the event the pool gets used for try scuba diving and try freediving sessions. The club house usually has entertainment or live bands on during the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Scuba Divers have released over 300 juvenile lobsters onto the Manacles Reef.
A volunteer team of six scuba divers, organised by Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba, collected over 300 juvenile lobsters from the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow. They then transported them by boat from Mylor Yacht Harbour to the Manacles Reef, where they were to be released into the wild. The lobsters were taken underwater to the sea bed by the volunteer divers, then carefully released into areas where they are known to thrive. Mark Milburn of Atlantic Scuba said he thought the Manacles was an ideal place for the juvenile lobsters to be released, eventually benefiting both the fishing and diving community.
The day had started off with a phone call from the regional BDMLR co-ordinator at 7am, there was a dolphin stranded on Gyllyngvase Beach in Falmouth. A woman called Cherilyn had seen the dolphin around 6 – 6:15am, she entered the water to help it. 45 minutes later she was joined by two joggers, then the MCA were contacted and they contacted BDMLR. Everything was done to help, even a 30 minute re-float but the dolphin didn’t respond. It was a sad end.
Since this press release was issued, we have made three more trips our with the baby lobsters.
1,100 were released on the Old Wall Reef
1,200 were released on the Hera Wreck
450 were released on the Volnay Wreck
The National Lobster Hatchery said they are happy with our efforts and we will continue to release baby lobsters, throughout the foreseeable future.
Over the years we have continued to release more and more, as of 01/01/2016, we have released in excess of 20,000 juvenile lobsters.
After the success of the Swanpool Beach underwater litter pick, we decided to do it again. Gyllyngvase Beach was the next chosen location. We set up an event on Facebook and once again had a great response. This event was going to be a little more ‘low key’ than the last one, no BBC Radio Cornwall interview and we never told the local newspapers either. We did speak to the Gyllyngvase Beach Cafe manager and the RNLI Beach lifeguards to let them know what was going on.
Fifteen divers turned up, kitted up and entered the water, Ruth stayed on the shore keeping track of us.
Divers were equipped with a surface marker buoy and carried a ‘goody’ bag, an empty net bag to put any debris in. They covered the reef and sea bed in search of anything that doesn’t belong. Anything that was colonised or had become ‘part of the reef’ was left.
After just over an hour and the divers were back on shore. 16.1kg’s of rubbish was recovered, categorised and recorded. The info is due to be sent to the Marine Conservation Society and Project Aware.
Well done and thanks to the volunteers.
Recently we organised a ‘get together shore dive’ from the Silver Steps on Pendennis, we advertised it on Facebook and had quite a few turn up. Whilst thinking of a follow up we did a dive at Swanpool Beach.
Swanpool is one of our favourite dives for teaching and completing guided dives, it’s easy access and quite shallow. Swimming along the reef we noticed some litter, we usually find golf balls but there was a collection of rubbish. read more →
After our last Coronation wreck weekend, 15/16th January, was cancelled due to the strong winds we were automatically put onto the next Coronation trip on Top Gun. We arrived at Mountbatten on another a cold and windy Saturday morning. The first days dive order was the James Eagan Layne followed by the Coronation. Mark, one of the licensees, met us on the boat and gave us a briefing before we left.
After our last weekend, 15/16th January, was cancelled due to the strong winds we jumped on the next spaces available on Top Gun. The 29/30th of January had two space so we grabbed them. The original trip was going to include the Coronation wreck but we didn’t have the required permission for this trip so it was going to be similar sites to our last trip just a couple of months ago.
We arrived at Mountbatten on a cold and windy Saturday morning, some divers had arrived a day earlier. The wind direction was going to restrict today’s sites to the Scylla and James Egan Layne, I didn’t mind as I had concentrated on photography on our dives on these two last time, this time I was going to record some video footage.
After seeing Gary's post for the 'winter special offer' dive trips to Plymouth on Yorkshire Divers, I sent Ruth a message and she replied saying she'd like to go. Four dives including pasty lunch, evening meal on the Saturday, B&B and air fills for Sunday all for £95 how could we resist. So we booked on the trip. After weeks of strong southerly and easterly winds they switched direction and it looked like it would go ahead, a message from Gary on the Friday confirmed that.
The SS Arthurtown was a small cargo ship weighing just 527 tons and measuring 49m long. It struck the Quies off of Trevose head in thick fog and tried to make way to Padstow, it didn’t make it. The Arthurtown foundered just a few hundred metres from Stepper Point in 18m of water.
It is easily found with a sounder as the cargo of scrap iron still stands three to four metres above the sea bed. The cargo has now rusted itself into one solid lump full of lots of holes where Conger Eels, Crabs and Tompot Blennies have made their home.
Sometimes things get a little quiet in Cornwall, we are or should I say ‘I am’ always looking for something interesting to dive. It rarely gets cold enough in Cornwall to even consider scuba diving under ice but over the last few days we had some very frosty mornings and very cold winds. On Wednesday I asked whether a local quarry had ice on it, it had up to 25mm on it.
I fancied having a dive under Ice to see if I could get some interesting photos, I can’t afford to travel to where ice is prevalent so this was my chance. I have dived in this quarry before, it is interesting as far as quarries go and quite shallow at round 8m in the deepest part. It gets a lot of algae during the warmer months which dies off in the winter, so I was hopeful of decent visibility.