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Lighthouse Wreck

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One Friday evening, just as we had done for years, we went out for a dive. No-one could decide on a location, so we decided on a random location near the St Anthony’s light house, Falmouth. We jumped in around 15m and landed on sand. Swimming around there was more sand, a small piece of iron and more sand. A Spotted Ray, a Thornback Ray and more sand. After thirty minutes of sand we turned and started heading shallower. Whilst swimming, still on sand, I saw a small reef. We swam towards the reef, almost excited to see something other than sand. As we got closer I could tell that it wasn’t a normal reef. It was a uniform shape, about eight metres in length and not quite a metre across or high. It was a series of cut granite blocks, edge to edge. I knew it was special and tried to signal the others, showing it was square, apart from one block that had a bevelled edge on one side. The others just smiled and looked at me, not quite knowing what I was trying to show them. I kept looking at it. I knew what it wasn’t but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. We swam onwards, across more sand.

Once we got home I fired up the laptop and was thinking what I could enter into the search bar. As I typed in Granite Ballast, I knew it was either ballast or maybe even cargo. I’ve heard stories that when ships arrived into Falmouth, they would deliver their cargo and instead of loading up with chippings for ballast, they would take a return load of granite blocks. So it is more likely it was cargo. Whatever it was it went down with the ship. It was the only way to explain how they ended up in a perfect straight line so close together. I searched the records of lost ships but couldn’t find anything that close to Falmouth. There were a couple of missing ships that listed granite as a cargo, one was too far away and the other was in ballast.

I decided to contact English Heritage to see if they had any idea. After a couple of days I had a response. They had come up with the same two names as I had found. The only difference was the location of one of them. The original reports said it sprung a leak one and a half miles south east of Porthallow, and this was its assumed place of sinking. In the Royal Cornwall Gazette dating 4th August 1892, the headline read ‘A Barge foundered at St Mawes’.

‘Whilst the barge FANNY, belonging to the Coverack Stone Company, was proceeding from Coverack with a cargo of stone, bound to St. Mawes to discharge, and when some distance off Porthallow, she sprang a leak which the crew were unable to master with the pumps, and quickly foundered in deep water. Messrs. Lowry and German took to the boat and pulled to St. Mawes. The FANNY is one of three flats purchased on the Thames, and used to carry stone from Coverack to the company’s works at St. Mawes.’

The granite blocks we had found were about a mile from St Mawes, tying into the headline. The fact that the two man crew ‘pulled for St Mawes’ in the original text was also a bit of a give away. Why pull seven miles to St Mawes if you were just one and a half miles from Porthallow? So, out of the two names, the most likely is the ‘Fanny’. The Fanny was a Thames spritsail sailing barge of thirty seven tons, owned and operated by the Coverack Stone and Syenitic Paving Company, from Coverack in Cornwall.

It foundered en-route from Coverack to St Mawes. The Coverack Stone & Syenitic Paving Company specialised in Syenitic granite. Syenite is a coarse-grained rock with a general composition as granite but with the quartz either absent or present in relatively small amounts. Used mainly as a cladding material it was used in many structures around Cornwall and England. A lot of the stone from Coverack Stone & Syenitic Paving Company ended up being used in road construction. This cargo of granite had been worked into exact uniform sizes, one of which had an angled face, not something what you would then crush into road chippings. On January 14th, 1896, a winding up order was presented at court for the Coverack Stone & Syenitic Paving Company:

 

In the Matter of the Companies Acts 1862 to 1890 and in the Matter of the Coverack Stone

and Syenitic Paving Co. Limited.

NOTICE is hereby given that a petition for the winding up of the above named Company

by the High Court of Justice was on the 14th day of January 1896 presented to the said Court

by Robins and Company Limited whoso registered office is at 13 Victoria-street -Westminster. And

that the said petition is directed to be heard before the Court at the Royal Courts of Justice

Strand on the 29th day of January 1896 and any creditor or contributory of the said Company

desirous to support or oppose the making of an Order on the said petition may appear at the time

of hearing by himself or his Counsel for that. purpose and a copy of the petition will be

furnished to any creditor or contributory of the said Company requiring the same by the undersigned

on payment of the regulated charge’ for the same.

We have been trying to find any of the company’s records with no avail. So, we are awaiting replies from both the Imperial War Museum and Tower Bridge, which were both being clad with Cornish granite in 1892. Although the online records state that the granite came from De Lank quarry in Cornwall, this would be one source. More than one source would be likely. When Rennie’s London Bridge was built in the 1820’s, records stated that the granite came from Hay Tor in Devon. Yet Hay Tor museum state it only supplied granite ‘in part’, quite a lot came from the Falmouth area.

Have you ever come across an underwater mystery that you just had to solve? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Mark Milburn is the owner of Atlantic Scuba in Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and is an SDI/TDI/NAS/RYA Instructor and a Commercial Boat Skipper. Although often referred to as a maritime archaeologist, he prefers to call himself a wreck hunter. Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba by visiting www.atlanticscuba.co.uk.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Windmill Beach (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Situated a short drive out of Simonstown is the shore dive at Windmill beach. A short swim over the sand and through the large boulders you enter the incredibly diverse and colourful kelp forests (Ecklonia maxima), a species that can grow up to 12m tall. Life is found in abundance from the base of the kelp where many sea urchins and species such as abalone can be seen then heading into the canopy many shoaling fish species can be observed.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Gear News

Fourth Element to make diving tools from recycled PPE

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Fourth Element has partnered with recycling and repurposing experts, Waterhaul, to retask the mask; turning single-use plastics into the tools we use in pursuit of underwater adventure. Face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material which fourth element purchases, recycle and transforms.

These cave line markers are the first of what fourth element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Waste is given a new direction.

The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital: the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also whilst injection moulding the parts.

What makes this OceanPositive?

In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.

These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of fourth element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.

We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of fourth element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post covid world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”

For more information visit the Fourth Element website by clicking here.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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