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Scuba Diving Southwest Coast of England, UK, Europe
Dive Site: The Volnay
Location: 50°04.25N, 05°04.03W, Porthallow, the Lizard, Cornwall
Description: 4609 ton steamship
Depth: 18 - 21 metres (60 - 70 feet)
Visibility: 4 metres (13 feet)
On Friday, 14th December 1914, the Volnay hit a German mine on the Manacles. Fortunately its cargo, which was made up partly of shells, did not explode and the captain was able to divert from the planned course to Falmouth to the bay at Porthallow. Before reaching it, the Volnay began to sink and the remainder of its cargo, which consisted of food such as coffee and tinned meat, was washed up on Porthallow Beach, much to the residents joy - it was nearly Christmas and rationing was in effect, so this made Christmas a much more pleasant experience!
Even when dived on springs there is hardly any current on this wreck, making it a straightforward dive. A lot of the wreck has been flattened, although not as much as some of the other wrecks in the area and it is still possible to locate the boilers and distinguish the keel. The silty seabed prevents you from doing much in the way of rummaging amongst the wreckage, as clouds of silt will immerse you in seconds. However, it is still possible to find the lead pellet shells on the wreck if they have been uncovered by the tide. There is quite a bit of fish life on it including bib and wrasse and a lot of sea fans. The Volnay is two minutes north from Porthkerris Cove.
Just a very small point to make about an otherwise very interesting report and set of images. Rationing probably wasn't in effect at that date. Nevertheless I'm sure the locals enjoyed the spoils. My own memory is of oranges washed ashore in S Devon during WW2. Not tasty I suspect.
Mike | 28/05/09
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