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Scuba Diving Southwest Coast of England, UK, Europe
Dive Site: The Rock Island Bridge
Location: Helford River Estuary, the Lizard, Cornwall
Length: 12 metres approx (40 feet)
Depth: 10 - 12 metres (30 - 40 feet)
Visibility: 5 metres (15 feet)
In 1920 the Rock Island Bridge changed course to sail to Helford instead of Falmouth after it started taking on water. It was clear that the boat was going to sink so it was ordered to move to the estuary entrance in order to prevent it from blocking the shipping route. Later there were attempts made to raise her using cables attached to concrete pillars on the bank, but to no avail.
The Rock Island Bridge lies in a sheltered cove, so even if there is a strong current flowing further out to sea, the drift will be gentle to non-existent on the wreck. The constant deposition of sand from the nearby river into the estuary has meant that over time the wreck has become silted up and it now barely shows above the surface. The photograph of the rivets barely emerging from the sand on the left of this page shows about as much metal as you can expect to see on the wreck! The dive is less of a wreck dive and more of a dive for the sea life that congregates around these meagre remains. There are pollack, wrasse, rock cooks and mullet concentrated into a small area. If you head northwest away from the wreckage into the sandy channel, you may find some scallops. The wreck is located ten minutes rib journey north from Porthkerris Cove and would make a good dive for novices.
I have a brass plate (pictured) that I recovered after some stormy weather back in 1990. It is from one of the life boats maybe, it reads 'Built by Hugh Mclean & Sons Renfrew Scotland, Builders of light draft vessels and ships lifeboats', with a stamped serial no.4046.
The lifeboat (ictured) has been in New Zealand for quite a few years, up until about 10 years ago it was still in the water, and prior to that was used as a family boat. It was fitted with a side valve Ford V8. I have enclosed a couple of photos of the boat, and also of the brass plate from the side of the boat, there are two brass plates for identification, 1 rear and 1 front. My son intends to put the boat back in the water one day.
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