2023-09-08 The Sugar Boat wreck off Helensburgh

The Sugar Boat, or correctly named MV Captayannis was anchored off Greenock at the Tail of the Bank waiting to unload a cargo of raw sugar from East Africa for processing at the Tate and Lyle refinery when, on the night of 27th January 1974, a fierce gale caused her to drag her anchor. The Captain, Theodorakis Ionnis, attempted to start his engines so that he could head for the deep channel into the Gare Loch but, before he was able to do so his ship collided with the anchor chains of a BP tanker, British Light, that damaged his hull. Drifting eastwards before the strong westerly wind, Captain Ionnis deliberately ran his ship aground on a sand bank near Ardmore just to the east of Craigendoran and about a mile offshore. By now, a small flotilla of rescue boats were in attendance and the 30 crew members were able to jump to safety. However, with the falling tide, which could be as much as 12 feet, the ship rolled onto her side. Salvage of the wreck would clearly be a major operation but, as ownership and insurance could not be firmly established , it was decided to leave it where it was safely out of the established shipping lanes. And there she remains to this day.

With some time to kill before my son got home from work, Mrs T had a swim in the lovely Helensburgh Leisure Centre, and I got to have a quick paddle out to the Sugar Boat. It was a very hot day and I'd only packed a dry suit, thinking it wouldn't be anything like as hot as it was. A shorty can would have been ideal. Oh well never mind and carry on. Needless to say I had a hot, err very hot time of it. But having not  managed to get out to the wreck before now, it had to be done. There are lots of birds out on the wreck and consequently it's very smelly. There are also some interesting currents and it can be surprising just how choppy the water can be at times. Arriving back at Helensburgh Pier I had to roll to cool down. It helped for a bit, until I started packing all my kit away and started to get very hot again.

A must see paddle!

3.3 Nautical Miles. 53 Minutes

GPS track

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