More Plymouth Dive Sites

More Plymouth Dive Sites

Here are a few more dive sites the Plymouth Sound Dive Club is fortunate to be able to dive.

Battery Buoy
Never heard of it? Why should you. This dive is something of a Plymouth Sound secret, so let’s keep it just between us …………

No, it isn’t a wind power station, it is the buoy just on the cusp of the Hamoaze, lying just off the gun battery at Mount Edgecumbe Park, and marking the northern end of Barn Pool inside Plymouth Sound.

The channel edge here plummets from 9 metres to 40 metres, and is punctuated by a series of caves, ledges, overhangs and holes. Otherwise known as the ideal habitat for lobsters, as well as rays, squid, mussels and crabs. As you drift further south into the bay you run into a muddier shallow bank, home to many scallops. There are also the remains of a pier used during World War Two and the wreck of a barge. You absolutely have to dive here at slack (high water slack for best vis.) or prepare for a clingon dive (one of our members finished up at the Bridges!). And you absolutely must have permission from the port authority since slack is usually when whopping great warships prefer to go up to the Dockyard. So, call Long Room (Port Control) on VHF Channel 14 or ‘phone 01752 663225.

Mark Prior

 

 

HMS Foyle

The Foyle was a small British River Class destroyer. She was built by Cammell Laird in 1903. Small – she only displaced 550 tons. Her fate was sealed a long way from Plymouth, hitting a mine while steaming through the Dover Strait in March 1917. Of the 70 crew 27 were killed.

The bow sank almost immediately but the rest of the vessel remained afloat. She was taken under tow but eventually sank in 50º 16.735’N, 004º 10.843’W in about 50 metres of water. The wreck was identified as early as 1972 when the nameplate was recovered. There is not much of her left now but despite that is a terrific dive. Conger inhabit the wreck like worms under a plant pot, as do lobsters and the occasional cod.

Much of the wreck has been recovered by divers and artefacts continue to be raised to this day, all declared, no doubt.

Mark Prior

Items removed from HMS Foyle HMS Foyle in one piece Samuel Peek, a stoker who was killed when the Foyle was mined

 Artefacts from the Foyle  

HMS Foyle in one piece

Stoker Samuel Peek, who died

when the ship was mined.

 

SS Medoc
The Medoc (50º 15.15’N 004º 14.27’W) was a French vessel commandeered in 1940 when France fell, and pressed into service with the Polish navy.

This cargo carrier was 273 ft long and 34 feet wide. Her three cylinder triple expansion engine pushed her along at a stately 9 knots. On November 26 1940, packed with cordite and 3.5 inch shells, one of her lookouts reported an aircraft approaching but decided it was a friendly.

Wrong ! The plane opened fire with her machine guns and raked the ship. The crew sighed with relief as the enemy plane appeared to fly off but it turned for a second attack, this time dropping a torpedo. The Medoc was mortally wounded and sank almost instantly, taking all 39 crew with it into 57 metres.

Many of the shells cases still litter the wreck today, now also know as the halfway wreck being that distance towards the Eddystone light. Unfortunately many nets litter the wreck as well, making this a dive to be undertaken with some caution. Do this dive at slack.

Mark Prior

 

 

SS Orchis
This is about as far west as Plymouth Sound BS-AC goes from its Mount Batten Centre base. The wreck is close by Owen Rock, off Fowey, in 50º 16.747’N, 004º 34.632’W. Being close to the reef makes it difficult to shot but the effort is well worthwhile. The Orchis weighed 483 tons and was 45 metres long. In 1935 she was carrying china clay from Par to Scotland when a leak was discovered in the engine room. It was so serious that the order was given to abandon ship and she went down by the stern in just over 40 metres of water. She is upright and fairly intact, with the forward heads still visible. You will be unlucky not to see ling and conger and the vis. is usually good. Someone has filched various artefacts from what was the galley area.

Mark Prior

 

 

PS Totnes Castle
She now lies off Bigbury Bay at 50º15.377’N, 003º 58.810’W. She was built at Dartmouth, Devon, in 1923 and plied the river for many years showing trippers the delights of the Dart Valley. By 1963 she had had her day, not least because of uneconomic repair bills to keep her in service. She was on her way to the breakers in Plymouth in 1967 when she broke her tow and sank. She now lies fairly flat, her stern mangled by scallop dredgers. The boiler, engine, and some of the paddle wheels can be made out. At around 45 metres deep and weighing in at a sprightly 90 tons this is a shortish dive. Despite its small size, expect to see lobsters, congers and ling. Dive it on slack, 3 to 3 ½ hours after HW Plymouth.

PS Totnes Castle

 

 

Mark Prior

SS Unicorn
Known locally as the Tile Wreck, for obvious reasons. She is not often dived by the club as conditions have to be just right for a 50+ metre dive reasonably close inshore where visibility and tides are major considerations.

Not a huge amount is known about the 134-ton Unicorn but she was in naval service between 1915 and 1919. She was carrying a cargo of tiles (the terracotta, wavy sort) when she sank in 1923 at 50º 16.934’N 004º 15.492’W.

She is around 100ft long and lies on her starboard side. This is quite a netty dive but the bow, stern, prop., single boiler and engine are all prominent features. You might see a whopping sized cod under the engine and anecdotally large edible crab abound. Not for the faint-hearted.

Mark Prior

 Charlwood (the Glass Wreck)

 

Somewhat unusually for the better known wrecks in this area the Charlwood was a steel sailing ship of around 867 tons. She was built in 1877 in Sunderland and at the time of her loss was owned by a Liverpool company.

In 1891 she was on passage from Antwerp to Valparaiso when she foundered in a collision with the SS Boston of London about a mile and a half  SSW of rhe Hand Deeps.

What was her cargo ?  The clue is in the title.

Today she stands upright on a 62 metre seabed  and has been described as a skip full of glass. This does not do justice to a fantastic dive on a wreck not just full of glass but also the artefacts and rigging of a sailing vessel. The highlight, though, is the amazing quantity of poor quality glassware ranging from bottles and tumblers to decanters. Poor quality then but of course now prized items of Victoriana adorning the mantlepieces of myriad divers.