Navigational tips and beauty spots around the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight.
The wreck of the Harry Sharman lies at the foot of Culver Cliff. Photo: Peter Bruce
The white chalk cliff in the north of the bay is Culver Cliff and it marks the eastern end of the chalk spine that runs from The Needles in the west right through the Island. Atop the cliff is a memorial known as the Yarborough Monument, commemorating Charles Anderson Pelham, the aforementioned Earl of Yarborough. After he died in 1846 onboard his yacht Kestrel in Vigo, the RYS put up £200 for the memorial to be built. Due south of the monument is the wreck of the tug Harry Sharman, which should concern you if you lose sight of the monument below the cliff. The tug foundered in a gale during the efforts to protect the island’s longest beach from 70,000 tons of crude oil in the tanker Pacific Glory.
With the fire at last extinguished, oil is pumped out of the Pacific Glory
She was rammed by the 46,000-ton Allegra when six miles south of St Catherine’s Point at 2100 on 23 October 1970. The Allegra changed course to avoid hitting a third ship and her bow sliced through the starboard side of the Pacific Glory. Allegra continued to Fawley where her master was arrested and the Pacific Glory drifted, her fuel lines cut by the collision, three miles off Ventnor. At 2230 escaping fuel ignited creating a huge fireball and secondary explosions and both ship and sea were ablaze. Twenty-nine of the crew were burned while abandoning ship and taken to Haslar hospital in Gosport and had 13 died. The combined efforts of the Royal Navy, lifeboats and fire-fighting tugs from Fawley managed to calm the fire but it broke out again and the Pacific Glory was abandoned one mile off Dunnose Head.
Fortunately no fuel reached the Sandown Bay, where volunteers were waiting with 8,000 gallons of detergent and the situation seemed to be in hand until a gale blew up. During this gale the Harry Sharman was driven into Culver Cliff and lost. The following morning Portsmouth fire brigade went onboard, quenched the fire and the Pacific Glory was handed over to a salvage team and not so much as a drop of oil reached Sandown’s five miles of sand.