Connect with us


Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 14: Wrecks and salvage, the Cornish way



In our popular series of Cornish Wreck Ramblings by Mark Milburn…

Part 14: Wrecks and salvage, the Cornish way.

Researching wrecks can lead to finding many tales of wrecks and salvage.

You may have seen the Poldark episode where they went down to a wreck on the shore, just how realistic was that? On the same beach as the Poldark wreck, there was a real wreck from 1684, the Schiedam. When it ran aground, the locals gathered on the shore, helping everyone off the wreck. No one died and the official reports stated, very little was thought to have been taken except for a musket or two. There is also a wreck from the right era for the Poldark program, the Dollar Cove wreck, covered in the last rambling.

Schiedam cannon off Dollar Cove where the Poldark programme was filmed

On the contrary, one of my favourite stories from 1720:

‘They write from Falmouth of the 18th inst. that a Dutch ship from Nantes run on shore near that port laden with brandy and saffron. She might have been got off but, the Country People coming so thick, they were obliged to leave her. But some of those plunderers, having drank so much brandy and being busy in the hold with a candle, set fire to the brandy, by which means the ship and cargo were destroyed and two of the ruffians perished in the flames. We are informed that 7 or 8 more of their gang are imprisoned and ’tis thought examples will be made of them according to the Act of Parliament.’ (Richard and Bridget Larn 1995 Shipwreck index of the British Isles, volume 1 : Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset)

I suppose the brandy was just too much of a temptation for those ruffians.

In 1751 there was another wreck, on the north Cornish coast:

`On the 24th ult. in the night, a ship was lost at Redreeth near St.Ives, and all the crew perished. A large quantity of logwood and pieces of eight are saved, a pocket book also was taken up with the name of Walter Brown upon it. The said ship is supposed to be the ST ANTHONY, Brown, from the Canaries for London.’ (Lloyd’s 1969 Lloyd’s list)

It was nice that the logwood and pieces of eight were saved but the crew were not.

4 reale coins from Rill Cove (Kerris Read)

When the Kerris Read, a wooden fishing boat ran aground in 1976, there was no looting. It was at the bottom of tall and steep cliffs. When divers went to investigate the wreck of the Kerris Read, they found many silver coins around the wreck. The silver coins were Spanish, minted in Mexico or Spain, the newest being around 1616. They recovered a large number of the coins, they still appear on eBay today, from all over the world. There is no record of a wreck of that age in the area, it is doubtful if anyone would have seen it at the time, because of it’s location. There is a record of a brigantine that sank in 1839, at the exact same location. There is a remote chance that the coins were being carried by that ship, there are records of 100+ year old coins being used to pay for supplies in foreign ports. One thing that is a little strange, there are no remains of the Kerris Read there, perhaps that was salvaged. It wouldn’t be the first time. A well known local diver once salvaged a sunken trawler, it was then used as a salvage vessel itself.

During the 1980’s, I worked in a builder’s merchants during the day. I remember one of my customers coming into the store asking about the price of Mahogany, an expensive hardwood. A couple of days later, he turned up with some hardwood to show me. He was not happy when I told him it was the much cheaper Meranti and not Mahogany. He said he had risked life and limb, climbing down the cliffs to recover the timber. He said there was loads of it. Some local building companies had taken all their staff off their current jobs, to recover some of the wood. I cannot remember the name of the ship, nor the exact year, I just remember a very upset customer with Meranti.

On March 26th, 1997, the MV Cita ran aground on the Scillies. Many locals helped clear up the cargo, removing items from along the coast.

Who was keeping what? No one knew. The police made records of who took what, certain items ended up in the local society. One container had Quinnsworth bags, bound for Ireland, they were used in shops for months following the wreck of the vessel. Even a seat off the bridge was taken and fitted to a local dive boat. No one was prosecuted for taking any items.

It’s probably a good job the MSC Napoli didn’t come aground in Cornwall in 2007, it would have been chaos. Mind you, those Devon folk made a good job of it…

MSC Napoli run aground in 2007

Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at

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

Dive Training Blogs

Jump into… IDC’s and what to expect



Looking at becoming a PADI Instructor? Why would you not, it is the best job in the world! Getting to become a PADI Instructor though is sometimes a scary process… or so I have heard…. It really isn’t, trust me! It’s actually pretty fun. 

The first thing I always like to get people to remember is their Open water course. When you started did you know everything about how the equipment worked? Did your instructor expect you to know all of the skills before they showed you them? No? Well, guess what, the IDC is a course too. It is about preparing you and working with you to give you the tips and tricks to not just pass your Instructor Examination (IE), but to prepare you for teaching your own students. 

I am well aware that there are courses out there that just teach you how to pass, and I am by far not saying that I have the best IDC in the world. I don’t, and I learn all of the time myself. There’s always an instructor that comes along in the dive season doing something a different way that I pick up and use. We learn all of the time, and is the only way that we ever get better. So to clear up that misconception, the IDC is not just a stepping stone to the IE and you are not expected to know everything before you come along. 

So, what does the IDC actually involve. Theory… obviously. You are going to need to have a knowledge of physics, RDP and all of the other topics that you will have covered throughout you diving levels. The theory side is the ‘boring’ part… I mean, we all dive for the water, no?! But, it is an important part and it’s going to help you be able to explain how to use the equipment, how it actually works, and the other questions that your students are going to be curious about. This section is all about developing your knowledge of those sections.

The water side then, confined water and open water. The fun parts! In short this is where we are going to go through the course skills and see how everyone does them. There is no perfect way for this… you do not have to play Simon says on the course… your way may be better than everyone else! What we will do though, is work with you to make sure that the demonstration is clear, concise and controlled to demonstrate to your students. Again, there is no expectation to be perfect before you come. We want you to ask questions, we want you to make mistakes… because that is how we learn, and most of all, how we get better. 

The other part of the in water activities, aren’t just about the skills though, it is also about your control under the water. We want to make sure that when you head out with your own students, that you are comfortable and can control the situation. Not something that comes to us all naturally straight away, but with coaching on the IDC, I am sure that you will get to this point before the end!

Last but not least, the course standards, content and rescue scenarios. All of this is in place to make sure that you understand the syllabus for each of the courses that you are going to be able to teach, and just as importantly, you are able to effect a rescue if the situation ever presented itself. A gloomy but important situation to think about. 

And after all that… voila! Thats it, the IDC! After completion there is then the ‘scary’ IE with the PADI examiners… they aren’t actually that scary, I promise! The two day IE basically covers what you have learnt in the IDC. No surprises, you are assessed on exactly what you have covered.

So stop putting off your IDC. If you love scuba and want to make it your career. Do it! 

Clare began Duttons Divers at just 19 years old and a short while later became one of the world’s youngest PADI Course Directors. Find out more at

Continue Reading

Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Kris Mears



Gemma and Ian chat to Kris Mears. Kris grew up in Chepstow, UK and then travelled extensively. He became a Divemaster and instructor on Utila in Honduras, spending four years working in a resort and then onto liveaboards. He went onto to manage liveaboards in the Maldives and Palau. For the last 10 years, Kris has been based in Puerto Galera, Philippines and is the International Sales Manager for Scandi Divers Resort.  He is a keen videographer, shooting as Scuba Sheep Productions. He recently became an author releasing his first book, Confessions of a Divemaster.

Have a listen here:

Find out more:

Find more podcast episodes and information at the new  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

Continue Reading

E-Newsletter Sign up!


A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email

More Less

Instagram Feed