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Mystery wreck hands harbour a big headache

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: February 15, 2010

<P>Shifting sands in the Camel Estuary have exposed this  wreck that's posing a threat to boats.  1002id03301wreck</P>

Shifting sands in the Camel Estuary have exposed this wreck that's posing a threat to boats. 1002id03301wreck

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MYSTERY surrounds the identity of a wreck off Padstow which resurfaced briefly during a high tide.

Some people believe it could be the remains of the Antoinette, the largest ship ever to go down on the Doom Bar.

Others say it may be the fishing ketch Triumph which sunk in 1912. But local resident Peter Ward, who captured what is left of the wreck on his digital camera, is convinced it is the Antoinette.

Either way, Padstow harbour commissioners are to take action as the remains of the ship are a danger to navigation.

If it is the Antoinette, then it has a vivid history, not least when it was originally blown up to clear the channel.

Padstonians at the time certainly knew about the explosion – it blew out every window in the port. The square rigger sunk off Pentire Point in 1895, but that was only part of the story, as Mr Ward explained.

" The Padstow and Port Isaac lifeboats saved 14 crew that night, plus two local pilots and two from South Wales.

"She was the biggest wreck that ever went down on the bar, weighing 1,118 tonnes.

"A local miner called Pope was later called in, and he brought a very large quantity of gelignite with him.

"When he blew the ship up, you could see the sand and smoke as far as Wadebridge, and every house window in Padstow was blown out.

"I doubt if it's been seen for 100 years until it surfaced again the other day.'' The Antoinette had sailed from Canada to Newport before loading 830 tonnes of coal bound for Brazil.

She got into difficulty off Lundy during a severe Christmas gale, losing her main sail.

The ship struggled on with pilots towing her, but the tow broke off near Pentire Point and she was lost.

Mr Ward added: "Some people in Padstow can remember their grandparents telling them the story of the Antoinette, but it took a very big tide for her to be seen again.''

Padstow harbour master Rob Atkinson said something now had to be done to make the wreck safe for other boats.

"Either some of what remains of the wreck will have to be removed or a buoy needs to go there,'' he said.

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    witheld, Padstow  |  February 22 2010, 6:36PM

    This wreck has recently uncovered to such an extent that it is now a real hazard to navigation. If it is not removed it will only be a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.

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    George Barnes, Padstow  |  February 19 2010, 11:21AM

    I note the cpmment of Paul,whilst his comments are plaudible, he is not aquainted with the changes that have taken place in the estuary over the past century. The sand bars are constantly changing almost with every tide.Wheras the main dep water channel of the Camel existed for many years close to the beaches at rock ithas in the last decade cut a new path though the centre of the bar Thus exposing the remains of this wreck. I sailed in thestuary for many year unawre of what was beneath the sands and cockle beds. A most interesting local find for us who explore the history of our port..

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    paul, bude  |  February 16 2010, 11:05AM

    if it has been there for over 100 years then why now is it a danger to navigation?

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