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CAPTAYANNIS: The Clyde's Most Obvious Wreck

Stand almost anywhere around the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde and you will hardly fail to notice one of it's most famous landmarks.

Locally referred to as "the sugar boat" she lies on a sandbank at the Tail o' the Bank (the upper firth anchorage) near to the promontory of Ardmore Point and was the 8325 grt Greek cargo ship CAPTAYANNIS.

On the evening of 27th January 1974 the area suffered from a terrific storm which blew the vessel from its anchor (it was waiting to deliver sugar to the James Watt Dock) and caused it to collide with the BP tanker BRITISH LIGHT. The tanker suffered no damage but the anchor chains of the tanker holed the sugar boat allowing water to pour into her.

Her captain decided to try and make for the sheltered waters of the Gareloch but realised the waters were flowing in so fast she was in imminent danger of sinking, the best thing to do was beach her in the shallow waters over the sandbank and he steered her to the desired spot where she stuck fast and started to heel over. The pilot boats, the tug LABRADOR and Clyde Marine Motoring's ROVER came to assist.

ROVER, who helped rescue the crew. She still plies the Firth to this day. (Photo 2005 John Crae)
The vessel had heeled over so far it was possible for the crew to simply jump onto the deck of the diminutive passenger vessel! 25 of the crew were taken to shore, but the Captain and four other crewmen waited on the LABRADOR standing off the stricken vessel.

Next morning the ship finally succumbed and went over on her side and she has lain there ever since, rusting away, most, if not all of her more valuable metals and fittings have been removed by looters. Little remains of her split-style superstructure and through time she has become a 'home' to marine life and birds.

Why has she never been removed?  Much confusion surrounds the identity of her owners, and no-one is willing to be responsible for her removal. There were once plans to have her blown up, but Ardmore Point is a sensitive bird sanctuary and there were fears such a drastic course of action would have negative repercussions  - so it seems she will remain there until every piece of metal has rusted away.

She is a melancholy sight indeed, and evinces much public interest, but little is known of her by onlookers, all they see is the rusting remains of a sugar boat. So, to balance that up, along with pictures of her as she is today, the last picture on this page will depict her in happier times.

My thanks to John Crae, Tom Carreyette, David Watson, Paul Strathdee and Andrew Vaughan for posting these pictures on ClydeShipping's forum along with other information that has helped make this article possible.

The story on the front page of the Greenock Telegraph on the day after she first encountered difficulties (Posted on CS by Tom Carreyette, the picture at the top of this page was taken by Tom in 1984)

A misty day with the wreck lying on its side (taken by John Crae)

Andrew Vaughan posted this as part of a set of (rather gruesome!) pictures of her as she is today

Very few people have ever seen a picture of her as she was. This splendid shot comes from the lens of Robin Wilson and shows her entering James Watt Dock in 1973 - Robin would never have guessed her fate shortly after would be so violent, and so close at home. Posted by Paul Strathdee.


Copyright B.Biddulph, Clydesite 2005 - Unless otherwise stated. Any materials credited shows the name of the copyright owner where known. The pages are intended for private use, for educational purposes. Reproduction in any form is prohibited without the permission of the copyright owner. Reassemble the following to email address format to contact: editor at clydesite . co . uk