Navigational tips and beauty spots around the north-west coast of the Isle of Wight.

The Solent’s oldest and youngest wrecks

Photo: Graham Snook

Off Bouldner Cliff you’ll see a pile of white stones, marking the remains of a stone jetty that used to be used to load bricks made from Isle of Wight clay.

Around 500m metres north of that, lying in 6.3m at CD, is the unmarked wreck of the Margaret Smith (above), a gravel dredger that sank when her cargo shifted in 1978. She is believed to be the youngest wreck still in the Solent.

Photo credit: Graham Snook

Head 1nm west and you’ll find the oldest wreck. Around 400m east from the end of Yarmouth Pier lies a large yellow buoy that marks the historic and protected wreck of the Santa Lucia. Discovered in 1984, she was a Spanish merchant vessel of some 30m (100ft) in length that was bound for Flanders with a cargo of merino wool in 1567. Quite how she came to founder off Yarmouth is unclear but piracy was rife in those days, with the Flemish, Dutch and English pirates, known as Gueux, or sea beggars, reaping a living from passing trade.

To quote Peter Bruce from Solent Hazards, “At that time the island was thick with them, gentlemen included, so it seems possible that, at some stage, the Santa Lucia was captured by pirates.

“It is significant that Sir Edward Horsey, the Captain of the Isle of Wight, whose attitude to piracy can best be described as ambivalent, recovered the cargo. There is no record of what happened to the crew.”

Pewter and ceramics were recovered from the wreck site but when funding for exploration dried up, the wreck was covered with sandbags for protection.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes
  3. 3. Cowes to Gurnard Ledge
  4. 4. Gurnard Ledge in detail
  5. 5. Baxter's Ledge
  6. 6. Thorness Bay
  7. 7. Salt Mead Ledge
  8. 8. Hamstead Ledge
  9. 9. The Solent's oldest and youngest wrecks
  10. 10. Yarmouth Castle
  11. 11. Black Rock
  12. 12. Fort Victoria
  13. 13. Sconce Point to The Needles
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