Whilst my family history research has in recent years been put on the
back-burner, I've attempted to create a website which would hopefully
help family historians put a bit of flesh on the bones of family
members who may have served in the RN, particularly during the 19th
On that score I've recently received an inquiry from a diver, who has
been checking out the seabed in Cawsand Bay, just to your right when
departing Plymouth / Devonport harbour / Plymouth Sound on the Cornish
coast, before you enter the English Channel :
I should perhaps add here that Cawsand Bay was much used by RN
vessels, particularly ships of the line ie 74s and above, during the
18th Century, and into the period occupied by the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815), to refit, water and victual etc., due to
the difficulties experienced by large sailing ships accessing Plymouth
/ Devonport harbour / Hamoaze until the arrival of steam vessels.
My diving correspondent advises me that off the beach of Cawsand Bay,
in about 12 metres of water he and his fellow divers have found an
area of the seabed, about 100 yards in diameter, littered with man
made rubble about the size of a house brick, along with several
bottles dating back to 1740 and a large number of animal bones. So a
bit in "no man's land" regarding county borders.
Whilst we can probably explain the presence of the bottles and the
animal bones, ie the captains' tables and wardrooms of RN ships would
probably supply the bottles, and it was the practice in those days to
supply live cattle to RN ships, so hence the bones.
However, we've come to a bit of a dead end when it comes to explaining
"the man made rubble" and were wondering if , when not in use by the
RN, ie during the various wars with France and Spain, the Bay may have
been used by merchant vessels as an inexpensive and sheltered
shoreline where merchant service masters could careen their vessels
(turn (a ship) on its side for cleaning, caulking, or repair) and may
have dumped their ballast overboard, in the Bay, before taking their
ships ashore, where the moving ballast could have caused much damage
to the ships' timbers ?
Should you have read this far I appreciate that this isn't the usual
sort of family history message, but wondered if anyone knew how
Cawsand Bay was used in peace time, say if someone had relatives who
may have lived in the area, or could perhaps point us in the direction
where we might find more info ?
Apologies to those who might have seen this message on the Cornish
50° 33' N, 2° 26' W
Solitary confinement, with the chance of being drowned, as some sage - was it not Dr.
Johnson? - described life at sea.