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

Scratchell’s Bay

Scratchell’s Bay harbours three potentially tricky rocks. Photo: Peter Bruce

Behind The Needles is Scratchell’s Bay, which looks very inviting and features the Needles Cave that, according to the Isle of Wight Imperial Gazeteer in 1870, is ‘a gloomy cavern… that penetrates the cliff to the extent of about 300ft.’ The Bay harbours three potentially tricky rocks. Sun Corner Rock nestles in the sun trap corner of the bay and is occasionally breaks the surface at low water springs, St Anthony Rock is the largest and dries 0.6m at CD, but the one to watch for is Irex Rock, uncovered at CD, named after the steel-hulled full rigged ship that wrecked on it on 26 January 1890. To clear all of Scratchell’s Bay’s rocks, keep Old Pepper Rock in full view under the Main Bench Cliffs south of West High Down.

Bound from Glasgow to Rio de Janeiro with a cargo of iron pipes, she battled storms in the Irish Sea and the Bay of Biscay for 20 days but with injured crew and a shifted cargo, Capt Hutton decided to run for safety. It’s thought he might have mistaken the Needles light for mooring lights when entering Scratchell’s Bay. She was discovered in the morning but Totland lifeboat couldn’t get near her. Thirty of her crew were rescued by breeches buoy, each hauled 400ft up the cliffs, but six of her crew, including skipper and first mate, were lost. Divers report that her flattened hull and cargo still litter the reef around the rock.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. The Needles
  3. 3. Rounding the Needles
  4. 4. Scratchell's Bay
  5. 5. Scratchell's Bay to Freshwater
  6. 6. Sir Robert Holmes
  7. 7. Frenchman's Hole
  8. 8. Watcombe Bay
  9. 9. War Knight
  10. 10. Freshwater Bay
  11. 11. Back of the Wight
  12. 12. Sirenia
  13. 13. Landslips
  14. 14. St Catherine's Point
  15. 15. Pepper Pot
  16. 16. Rocken End
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