Eddystone

GPS: S20° 36.207  E117° 44.123'

Location: Balla Balla

Site depth: 4-8 metre

Divable conditions: 0.5m swell. Neap tide - change of tide

Visibilty: 5 metres

Vessel: Steam Freighter

Construction: Steel

Tons: 2040 tons

Vessel length: 85 metres

Wreck event: Ran aground entering anchorage 1894

The Eddystone was a large steamship freighter that ran aground while being lead into the Balla Balla anchorage by the Beagle on the 6th September 1894. The Eddystone was to unload machinery and cargo to the Beagle under an agreement with the master of the Beagle that the transfer would be made in the sheltered waters of the Balla Balla anchorage. The Captain of the Eddystone agreed on the condition that he would be guided into the anchorage by the Beagle. In the morning of the 6th the Eddystone was following the Beagle into the passage while continuously sounding with the ships lead and the engines at dead slow, only just making headway on an out going tide. The Beagle was ahead of the freighter and some confusion grew with regard to signals being made between the two vessels, when just before 8am the Eddystone went aground on a the shoal at the eastern edge of the passage. The Eddystone's engine was put full astern for over an hour but on the dropping tide the freighter did not get free from the shoal and soon water begun to climb in the bilges of the stricken freighter, the engineer was unable to secure the water tight door to the number 1 hold which subsequently flooded. The Eddystone was considered lost and was unloaded of its cargo and crew and left to the mercy of the indian ocean.

Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954), Saturday 15 September 1894, page 8

Diving the Site:

The Eddystone site sits right on the edge of the deep water channel between a chain of shoals and Depuch Island. The area and the channel are extremely tidal and the site should only be dived at slack water with every precaution taken to allow for the safety of divers returning to the boat. Even at slack water the site should be treated as a drift dive with a live boat running to assist divers as there would be no hope of a diver returning to an anchored vessel against the tidal flow. Even during neap tides the site was deemed too unsafe to dive while the tide was in flood. Anchoring ground around the site is generally poor holding ground anyway with the seafloor being flat rock. The site itself though is quite dramatic and with the fast water on the site it has huge schools of giant trevally and barracuda surrounding the structures that remain. Large portions of the wreck are not present however the huge triple expansion engine, large boilers, stern and propeller make the site impressive. Amazingly the stern and engine lay almost 90° to each other showing the power of the tides and ocean while the wreck was breaking apart. The propellor shaft over a foot in diameter and made of steel has a dramatic curve and bend leading to the propellor as is visable in the drone image attached further up the page.