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Boat Diving Sites

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For numbers 86 and 87 click here
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For Transit Marks of points 82 & 85 click here
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79 Ore Stone The Ore Stone stands 32m high and is just over half a mile south-east of Hope’s Nose. The Sunker Rock lies just 2m under the surface 100 yards south-west. These rocks are far enough away from the sewer outfall to give reasonable visibility. There is a hole right through the Ore Stone from north to south just below the surface. There is a dog-leg in it, but once in you can see the light at the other end. It is wide enough for even the area’s largest diver and the current tends to carry you through. At the northern end there are two exits.

Around the Ore Stone itself, kelp-covered rock inshore descends across rocky ledges with gullies and small caves to a mixed bottom of mud and sand among slate outruns. Plenty of life here includes large wrasse, dogfish, conger and lobsters. Flatfish are found on the surrounding sandy bottom, which reaches a depth of 20m. There are strong tidal flows and much boat traffic in season, so slack water is essential. Slack is about two hours before and four hours after high water.

From the Ore Stone a low reef of rubble runs right across Tor Bay to The Ridge (site 88), diappearing under the sand and emerging as isolated low rocks in places.

80 The Ammunition Dump Really the wreckage of a landing craft, which seems to have been transporting ammunition during World War Two. It ran onto the back or inside of the Ore Stone and there is very little justify of her. But the cargo of rifle ammunition, in clips of five, is stilll to be found in quantity, though the days of lifting boxes of it are over.

81 Lead Stone or Flat Rock This lies 400 yards south-west of Hope’s Nose, in the full tidal flow around the point. It is close to the sewer, so is not recommended. Even so, from 200 yards to the north-east of the rock, divers have recovered a ten foot diameter three-bladed aluminium propeller, which is riddled with bullet holes. It comes from a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor reconnaissance bomber, of the type renowned for its attacks on Allied convoys and guidance of U-boat packs in World War Two.

82 Tucker Rock At 650 yards north-east of the Ore Stone, with at least 6m of water over it at all times, Tucker Rock is regarded as a beautiful scenic dive along a ridge, with rocky gullies festooned with sponges and other growths. There is a good drop-off on the north face, which is also highly decorated down to 25m with a mud and sand bottom. High water slack on neap tides is when to dive this one, because of strong currents at other times. The transit marks shown in the diagram will put you 200 yards south of the rock. Then head slight west of north (355º magnetic) and the rock will show on the echo sounder or connect with a dragged anchor.

83 Thatcher Rock Situated three-quarters of a mile west of the Ore Stone, standing 41m high with a small islet close to the south, ,the Thatcher Rock is only 300 yards from the shore and is sometimes linked to it by a ropeway by climbers, who seem to regard it as some sort of challenge.

Tidal streams here are less severe than on the Ore Stone or Tucker Rock, but slack water (about two hours before and four hours after high water) is best, giving a pleasant dive in Thatcher Gut between the rock and the shore in 10m. Around the rock is terrain similar to that of the Ore Stone, with kelp giving way to sand at about 12m. Inside the rock the bottom is sand, so seaward it is muddy. Watch out for pleasure and angling boats in season.

84 HMS Vigilant A single cannon, made of iron and very worn, at the southern end of Thatcher Rock might possibly be from this Revenue cutter, commanded by Lieutenant H. Nazer, which sank “near Torbay” on 5th December 1819. It could be from many another armed ship. The cannon is close in to the end of the rock and the area must be worth a proper search.

85 Morris Rogue This is a completely submerged rocky outcrop lying half a mile west-south-west of Thatcher Rock with a depth of 8m to the top and 14m to the sandy sea bed. There is much life, particularly plaice, crabs and starfish of many colours. There are masses of plumose anemones. An interesting reef runs away from the main rock in the direction of Thatcher. Tides are not usually a problem, except on spring tides.

86 Duke of Marlborough this well-armed brig was lost close to London Bridge on 11th October 1836, in a storm that tore her from her moorings in Torbay and drove her into a rocky inlet surrounded by sheer rock walls. In an attempt to save themselves, the crew cut the port shrouds of the mainmast, which allowed it to fall against the cliff, and made a ladder to the top. The mate and a seaman were the first to climb, but the ship shifted on a wave and threw the two men to the deck. The seaman was killed but the mate tried again and finally reached the top of the cliff in safety. None of the other seven men would try the climb and they all drowned when the ship sank.

Salvage work began quickly on this former Post Office packet vessel, which had been anchored in Torbay while her captain underwent some hospital treatment, and had been fitted out for a trading expedition to West Africa. The Deane brothers were engaged to raise the ship, but managed only to lift six cannon and some fittings. Later work by other divers from the smack Mary Ann in 1851 is reported to have raised valuables. So far as is known she has not been relocated this century. All diving for her recently has been on the other side of London Bridge. Rocks in the area descend vertically to a rocky sea bed, then to sand at 8m.

87 Dutch Barge Her cargo of 20ft iron pipes lies under London Bridge on the sea bed at 8m. Divers have failed to find any sign of the barge itself, and believe that she may have tipped off her cargo here, either without sinking or later sinking elsewhere.

89 The Ridge The Ridge is the only piece of rough ground right within the Bay that is worth a dive to itself. In 7 to 10m of water, this 3m high reef is excellent for flatfish. Lying in a line roughly east-west, The Ridge is about three-quarters of a mile directly north-east of the Broad Sands end of Churston Point and is at approximately 50 25 00N; 03 32 00W. Tidal streams are virtually non-existent at all states and the site is usually calm and accessible, except in north-easterlies and easterlies of Force 4 and above. It is an angling mark for dabs and plaice. When you are over the middle of the Ridge, the tip of Brixham Breakwater will be lined up with the west end of Shoalstone Point Coastguard Station.

East of Brixham, Berry Head is a sheer 200ft headland, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty – which it certainly is. The waves have carved out huge caverns. These and the cliff ledges provide nesting sites for kittewakes, guillemots, shags and fulmars. As a result, the southern cliffs are now officially declared an area of special protection. No one is allowed into the area between 15th March and 31st July. Divers and pleasure craft are requested not to come in too close and to refrain from sudden noise. The nesting birds take flight at such noise and eggs and young get knocked off the ledges.

Berry Head lighthouse is at the end of the headland, Beyond the Coastguard Station. It became known as the smallest, highest and deepest light in the British Isles after its establishment in 1906 – because the tower is all of 5m high, the light is 58m above the water on top of a headland from which you can see 800 square miles of sea, and the optic used to be turned by a weight falling down a 150ft deep shaft (a motor now does the job). The light has a range of 18 miles – white group flashing twice every 15 seconds.

The fortification on Berry Head were erected in 1793 against a possible invasion by the French. The waters below do not provide very interesting diving as the bottom is mainly mud.

89 The Trawler Dump The divers who found charred woodwork and steel wreckage at 50 23 41N; 03 29 10W a few years ago got quite excited about it. They should not have done – the whole of this area just to the south of Berry Head has been used as a dump for old trawlers and other old boats for years. It is sometimes used to dump objects trawled up by local fishermen. At least two aircraft engines were dropped in there and smartly pulled out again by aircraft recovery groups. Certainly there is a steel barge in 12m with a lot of steel hawser around it, and some other wooden wreckage that looks distinctly charrred.

90 Cod Rock These rocks offer sheltered diving but little of interest. They are heavily potted by local fishermen, though for no obvious reason. There has been some friction here, particularly during Bank Holiday weekends when the whole diving world seems to come to Brixham. Diver saturation results and great care is needed to avoid upsets.

To the south, Sharkham Point is best avoided. This is where the main sewer serving Brixham and district exits.

91 Bretton Hall This British steamer was bound for Cardiff from Antwerp when she ran ashore in St Mary’s Bay near Sharkham Point at 6pm on 6th December 1885, in an easterly gale. The crew were all saved. Her cargo was sand and 450 tons of Belgian malleable iron ingots. The ingots were later salvaged. At 5am the next day, the seas were washing right over her. The captain then justify her.

The Bretton Hall is now very broken, but a large part of her keel and many plates can be seen in 7m at 50 23 03N; 03 29 52W. This is rated a good novice shore dive, but with a long snorkel from the beach to save air. Kelp covers the wreck remains and there are plaice to be seen on sand patches.

92 Bleamoor A 3755-ton steamer of the Moor line (W. Runciman and Company), the Bleamoor was built in 1902 by W. Doxford and Sons. She was armed, 342ft long with a beam of 46ft and her 30hp engines could produce 9 knots. She was travelling at less than her full speed on 27th November 1917, when she was torpedoed from a hull-down position by UB-80 commanded by Kapitanleutnant Viebeg.

The Bleamoor sank swiftly and though at first seven men were reported missing, the final death toll was eight. She had been bound for Falmouth from Hull with a cargo of coal and is now at 50 22 43N; 03 25 14W. She is 12m proud of the sea bed at 43m and lies east-west, with her bows to the east. She is in a poor state and divers should take great care in exploring the wreckage, which is badly broken and completely separated in places. A scour of 3m is on the south side.

This wreck is owned by a syndicate of divers headed by Ken Breeze, who believe it to be not the Bleamoor but the Kendal Castle. They base their identification on shipping line pottery found on her.

93 Dudley Rose Straddled by a stick of bombs from a lone Heinkel He 111K on 9th April 1941, this 1600-ton Admiralty collier was hit close to the bridge and sank soon afterwards, though all her crew of 16 were saved. She was built in 1929 by Hendersons of Partick for Richard Hughes and Company of Liverpool. She was powered by triple-expansion engined made by McKie and Baxter of Glasgow sited aft, and was carrying 2200 tons of coal from Plymouth to Portsmouth, though she had called at Dartmouth on the way.

This 250ft ship was 4 miles from Berry Head lighthouse on a bearing of 150º when attacked. She now lies on the sea bed in 35m at 50 23 38N; 03 26 20W. She stands 6m proud and is upright and complete, though some of her coal has spilled out on the sea bed on either side of her. She has been trawled into many times and divers say there is net all over her, so great care must be taken.

The binnacle is still in place on the centre of the bridge, though the compass has been gone for some time. A feature of the bridge of the Dudley Rose is the large concrete blocks lying there. These were originally bolted to the wooden walls of the wheelhouse to protect against shellfire or bomb splinters, and the fixing bolts can be seen.

WARNING In addition to the net hazard, divers should look out for any unexploded bombs. When first dived by amateurs in 1964, one diver reported a cylindrical metal object under the bridge area. The wreck is best dived on slacks at four hours after or two hours before high water.

94 Northville Packed full of 3400tons of good Welsh coal, this British steamship with a length of 304 feet and a beam of 44 feet was on her way from Newport to Dieppe on 17th February 1918, when a torpedo from UB-33 sent her to the bottom. Though the attack had come without warning the 2472-ton Northville stayed afloat long enough for all the crew to take to the boats.

Oberleutnant Gregor noted in his log that he was at periscope depth when he fired and that the Northville was “in the service of the Navy” (though how he decided this no-one knows). He and all his crew were lost on 11th April the same year, when they dived amid the nets of the Dover Barrage and set off one of the mines. Weeks later, Royal Navy divers got down to the wreck and recovered a steel chest containing the submarines signal books, log and confidential code books.

The Northville today is at 50 24 25N; 03 24 33W and is upright on a soft sea bed at 39m with her bows to the east-south-east. The sea floor rises in the east and the bows are the highest point of her at 30m. There is some silting of the wreck, which has a 2m scour on each side. The coal is still in the four holds and the hatch covers, some 20ft square, are off. She has two spare anchors on her deck amidships. Another anchor of a modern pattern is hooked into one of the holds and looks like an accidental loss.

The stern gun is lying off its pedestal and the ship seems to stop short at the stern. This mystery was solved by diver Ken Breeze when, in poor visibility, he launched himself off the end and a few fin strokes further on found himself on the complete stern of the ship, which had broken right away from the main wreckage.

95 The Trawler Local divers have always regarded this wreck charted at 20m on early copies of Admiralty charts 3315 and 1613 with deep suspicion, though some were prepared to believe it was there somewhere and was the wreck of a small steel trawler. It was charted at 50 27 33N; 03 27 03W. Their suspicions about it were proved right when the Navy survey ships “disproved it”, and it does not appear on new editions of Admiralty charts!

96 Stryn A 2143-ton british ship, the Stryn was 281ft long and her 214hp engines could push her along at 9 knots. She was built in 1901 by Bonn and Mees and was requisitioned from her owners Constantine and Donking by the Government Shipping Controller soon after the outbreak of war in 1914.

She nearly made it through the whole war but was torpedoed by Kapitanleutnant Viebeg when hull-down in UB-80 on 10th June 1918. The Stryn was then on her way from Rouen in ballast to pick up a cargo in Barry roads. Eight men died in her and the remainder of her crew and captain were picked up five miles east of Berry Head in their boats and landed at Plymouth. She is lying on her port side in a depth of 40m at approximately 50 25 00N; 03 23 00W and the depth to her top rail is 30m.

97 Sevilla This Norwegian steamer, owned by the Thoresen company and built in 1913 by Wood, Skinner and Company, was carrying a cargo of wine and fruit from Valencia to Bergen on 25th April 1918, when she was torpedoed at 50 24 18N; 03 22 51W by UB-80, commanded by Kapitanleutnan Viebeg. The Sevilla was sunk by a torpedo aimed from periscope depth and one man on board died instantly. After she sank much of her cargo of oranges, from the groves around Valencia, floated free and covered the sea. The wreck is still known locally as the “orangeman”. The ship’s last port of call before her sinking was Cadiz, where the wine was loaded.

The 1318-ton 260ft ship lies the right way up, with a list of 20º to port and it is exactly 30m to her deck and 41m to the sea bed. The Sevilla is in a good state and divers have found bottles of sparkling wine and red wine aboard. The Chief Engineer’s cabin has a great number of bottles in it, giving rise to the suggestion that he was having a party when she sank! Some of the crockery found on her is marked Kristiania (a former name for Oslo). She lies almost north-south.

98 Rota At 50 24 57N; 03 18 50W. There is no doubt about the identity of this one. The bell of this British, formerly Danish, 2171-ton armed merchantman built in 1915 by Dunlop, Bremmer and Company, was raised by Devon divers Ken Breeze and Dave Baker in 1981. The 310ft ship was heading from Beni Saf in Algeria with a cargo of iron ore for Middlesborough on 22nd July 1917, when she was torpedoed by UB-40, commanded by Oberleutnant Howaldt. On this mission from Zeebrugge (14th to 25th July), Howaldt had already sunk the liner Salsette in Dorset waters on 20th July and had been heavily depth-charged on several occasions. When this torpedo struck the Rota, the captain and four men died.

Today the ship is upright and the torpedo damage can be clearly seen between bows and bridge on the starboard side. She lies almost east-west, in 28m to her deck and 44m to the sea bed. There is a 2m scour in her port side. Until recently her gun was still on the stern.

99 Glocliffe Despite positive identification by local divers of this wreck at 50 27 05N; 03 17 17W as the Glocliffe, some fishermen insist on calling her the Irex (site 100), which has caused much confusion. The Glocliffe, a 2211-ton 287ft British steamer had a hard war. On 2nd January 1916, she hit a mine in the North Sea and was beached. After repairs, she went to war again and was loaded with 3281 tons of coal at Barry and headed for Southampton.

U-boat ace Oberleutnant Howaldt in UB-40 was patrolling his favourite killing ground in Lyme Bay and spotted the Glocliffe as she came up to Berry Head on 19th August 1917. Howaldt was near to the end of his mission – he was due back in Zeebrugge on August 23rd – and fired one of his remaining torpedoes from a hull-down position. It struck her amidships, killing two men. The Glocliffe had no chance to use her stern gun, indeed it is doubtful if the gunners even saw UB-40 with just her periscope showing among the waves.

The gun on her stern is still in position and divers sit on it looking down her decking. The Glocliffe is now completely on her port side on a sea bed of fine sand at 38m. the wreck’s highest point is on her starboard side towards the stern and over 12m proud. She lies north-west to south-east and is in a reasonable state of preservation.

100 Irex This 16-ton fishing smack was sunk less than a mile from the Glocliffe, which accounts for the confusion between the two ships. The Irex was sunk by Oberleutnant Gregor in UB-33. On the morning of 21st February 1918, he surfaced in the midst of a small fishing fleet that included the Irex of Brixham, the Leonora, another sailing fishing boat of 26 tons from Ramsgate, the Rosebud of 44 tons, the Idalia of 23 tons and the Onyx of 38 tons. After warning the crews to take to their boats, Gregor sank the lot just before midday with the 8cm gun on his casing. It is doubtful if there is much justify of such a small boat as the Irex but one position given for her was 50 26 55N; 03 14 33W.

101 Greleen This was not the name on the bell when divers brought it up. It read “Ballater”, but the name under which the ship was launched in 1894 after her building by Harland and Wolff was Blairmore. She appears to have changed her name twice before World War One, but was definitely called Greleen by her owners, the Haenton Shipping Company, when torpedoed on 22nd September 1917.

She was laden with iron ore from Bilbao and heading for Middlesborough. A 2286-ton ship of 313ft, she was given no warning and was caught completely by surprise by the attack of Oberleutnant Howaldt in UB-40 just 7½ miles east of Berry Head. Only eight men got clear when she sank suddenly after the torpedo opened a huge hole in her port side. Nineteen men including her captain died.

Known locally as the “22 fathom”, the Greleen is 50 27 38N; 03 13 47W and is intact apart from a few holes. Even her stern gun is still there, broken off the mounting pedestal. The midships bell is the one raised by Exedive, who describe her as a good dive, “light and airy”. It is 30m to her highest point and 40m to the sea bed where there is 1m scour.

102 Lord Hailsham this Admiralty trawler of 891 tons was built in 1934 and bought by the Navy in August 1939. She was 156ft long with a beam of 26ft and was torpedoed by E-boats on 27th February 1943, on the same sweep that sank the Harstad (site 103). The position for the Lord Hailsham is the same and is also approximate.

103 Harstad This requisitioned whaler of 258 tons, formerly the Kos XVII, was sunk by an E-boat on 27th February 1943. She had been taken over by the Navy in July 1940 with her Norwegian crew and was used as a minesweeper. This whaler was built in 1932 and is now approximately 50 24 00N; 03 07 00W, but has not so far been located by divers.

104 Isbjorn The Naval Officer in Command, Dartmouth, gave the position of this wreck only hours after the 597-ton ship was sunk in December 1944. Navy surveys of the area in 1984 indicated a shipwreck on a sea bed at 48m standing 8m proud, but queried whether this could be a 597-ton vessel as they were getting echoes from an object at least 295ft long with a 39ft beam. Diving information is not available. The position is given as 50 26 07N; 03 03 26W.

105 Modavia In the same small convoy attacked by E-boats on 27th February 1943, when the Harstad (site 103) and the Lord Hailsham (site 102) were sunk, the Modavia was a much bigger ship – a motor vessel of 4858 tons. She had come across the Atlantic in a large convoy to Milford Haven and was on her way to Southampton with her valuable war cargo of 5645 tons, which included 13,545 ingots of aluminium, 17,200 ingots of zinc, aluminium tubing and 300 boxes of copper wire.

She was 14 miles directly east of Berry Head when the E-boats attacked. When she sank her crew of 45 and nine gunners were all saved. She has been located and identified at 50 24 23N; 03 01 49W, and is probably the same wreck as the next one described.

106 the Bofors Wreck Said to be at 50 24 28N; 03 01 45W, this one is called the “Bofors wreck” by local divers for the simple reason that this unknown ship, lying on her starboard side in a depth of 48m, has deposited on the sea bed a huge quantity of ammunition for Bofors guns. The pile is said to be ten feet high and ten feet across. It is 31m to the highest point of the wreck, which appears to be a vessel of over 3000 tons. It is likely that this ship is in fact the Modavia.