Rock Island Bridge

Bridge on the Helford

The Helford river separates the Falmouth area from the Lizard. Its one of the reasons it takes a long time to drive to the likes of Porthkerris, there is no bridge.
Whenever people ask me if there is a bridge, I say there is a bridge, the ‘Rock Island Bridge’, “where is that?” they ask, “near the river mouth in 10m” I reply, “uh!”, “it’s the name of a shipwreck”.
After a collision off the Lizard it started taking on water, it was a sure thing that it was going to sink, so they towed to the the Helford estuary mouth with hopes of re-floating it. They couldn’t, so the 3,500 ton steamship was salvaged then dynamited to flatten it.

What was going on?

We headed out on Westbay Lass. As the sea had picked up a little with the south easterly there wasn’t a lot of choice, either the channel again, or the Rock Island Bridge, I was happy with the Rock Island Bridge as I hadn’t dived it before, no-one complained about it so off we went.

It was going to be shallow, 12m maximum, I wasn’t bothered about that either, I was planning something deeper tomorrow and didn’t really want too much Nitrogen in my system. The only thing I did think about was that everyone who has ever dived it has said it is rubbish, just a few plates of metal and a bit of wildlife. It was my turn to decide.

Jason dropped a shot for us and we jumped in as we were ready. On reaching the bottom it did just look flat, I started playing with my camera and then headed off after I had got it set up for this dive, no macro today, just wide angle.

As I started swimming around I kept noticing various bits and pieces sticking up, these were gradually getting taller. There were pieces of the hull standing 3 to 4 feet off the bottom with the odd spar standing 5 feet high. I could possibly understand the comment that it is flat, but when I started swimming through the wreckage, I thought to myself “What was going on?”, why did everyone say it was just flat plates when I am swimming underneath the plates. There was one spot it was high enough for me to kneel to take some photos, loads of places you could drop down between the ribs and have a good look around. OK, so it was not an intact wreck, but there was so much life in and around the pieces, some big Wrasse, Rock Cook, Lobsters, Edible Crabs, Spider Crabs, Bib, Sand Gobies, Pipefish, Snakelock Anemones, Dahlia Anemones and one piece of Eel grass.

I spent 75 minutes swimming around in all, next time I might even take my macro lens and photograph some of the smaller things. All the photo’s were taken in ambient light, no torches, flash or filters, just a wide angle lens.