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Mark Milburn’s Cornish Wreck Ramblings, Part 9: ‘Thar be gold!

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There are always stories of lost gold, ships or planes carrying gold, lost at sea and never found. Some are just stories, some are not. Around Cornwall we have hundreds of stories, ranging from buried pirate treasure, to planes laden with gold heading off to foreign ports.

One such story is the tale of the Ballarat. The Ballarat was an 11,120 ton P&O liner, on it’s way from Melbourne to London with Australian troops. It also had a cargo of copper, lead/silver alloy, antimony ore, gold bullion and general cargo. On the 25th April 1917, she was torpedoed by UB-32. It did not sink until the following day, allowing all the 1752 on board to be saved.

Over the years it has been subject to salvage, mainly for it’s copper and lead. Commercial salvors, Risdon Beazley located the wreck in 1954 but no salvage was recorded until 1985, although it had been buoyed for salvage in 1960, which was lead and copper ingots. The 1985 salvage operation reported that the Ballarat had been previously heavily salvaged. There have been many technical dives on the Ballarat, with dozens of reports of port holes and crockery being sent in to the Receiver of Wreck.

The original inventory stated the ship was carrying 500 tons of copper, 250 tons of lead/silver alloy and 2 tons of gold. What happened to the gold? Is it still there? Has it been removed secretly? Lying in 90m of water, we may never know for sure.

Another story is of a plane, leaving the St Eval airfield during the hours of darkness. It was supposedly carrying gold to buy fuel for our ships in foreign parts, crashing not long after taking off. Divers have continuously looked for aircraft wrecks in the area, hoping to find the two tons of gold said to have been on board. That would have been a lot of fuel. Official records only list small training planes working from St Eval, nothing big enough to take two tons of gold.

Eventually we tracked down someone who was stationed at St Eval during WWII. He worked on the small training aircraft, servicing and maintaining them. He recalled a hanger that was kept closed during the daytime. He said he once caught a glance inside the hanger, through a small door and there was a larger plane inside. He couldn’t recall what is was, may be a Dakota or something of a similar size. A Dakota would have been big enough to carry two tons of gold. Is there any truth to this story? Hard to say unless someone finds the gold. We can’t find any official records though…


Find out more about Mark and Atlantic Scuba at www.atlanticscuba.co.uk

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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WIN a Beuchat Air Light Bag!!!

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For this week’s competition, we’ve teamed up with our good friends at Beuchat to give away an Air Light Bag!

The Air Light Bag from Beuchat is a practical travel bag that takes up minimum storage space.

  • Material: 600 denier and 1,000 denier nylon/PVC
  • Soft roller bag, easily stored in its mesh bag
  • Internal retaining straps
  • Zip fastener with eyelets for padlocks
  • Side compartment for fins
  • Outer document pocket with coated zip and carry strap
  • Backpack style straps concealed behind the foam back-plate
  • Drainage vents
  • Red over-moulded wheels; detachable wheel block

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, all you have to do is answer the following question:

In a recent post on Scubaverse.com (which you can read here), we reported that the Philippines have been recognised as the World’s Leading Dive Destination at the 27th World Travel Awards. In the article it states how many islands make up the Philippines… how many are there?

Is there:

  • A) 7,209
  • B) 7,532
  • C) 7,641

Answer, A, B or C to the question above:

Beuchat Air Light Bag December 2020

Competition
  • Enter the country you live in
  • Terms and Conditions: This competition is open to all visitors to www.scubaverse.com except for members of the Scubaverse team and their families, or employees of Beuchat and their families. A valid answer to the competition’s question must be entered. If no valid answer to the competition’s question is entered, your entry will be invalid. Only one competition entry per entrant permitted (multiple entries will lead to disqualification). Only one prize per winner. All prizes are non-transferable, and no cash alternative will be offered. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied, no liability will be attached to www.scubaverse.com. When prizes are supplied by third parties, www.scubaverse.com is acting as their agents and as such we exclude all liability for loss or damage you may suffer as a result of this competition. This competition closes on 13/01/21. The winner will be notified by email. The Editor-in-Chief’s decision is final.

  • The following fields are optional, however if you fill them in it will help us to determine what prizes to source in the future.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
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Gear News

Quick Scuba Tips #1: How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving (Watch Video)

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How To Prep A New Mask for Scuba Diving. Can’t I just take my new mask diving straight out of the box? Well, actually, no. It needs a little work to make it dive ready.

In this, the first in our new scuba diving quick hints and tips series, I’m going to show you how to prepare a new mask for scuba diving with three quick techniques, all aimed at stopping your scuba mask from fogging.

Yes, this link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Dive safe, dive often!

James


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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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