IT’S ALWAYS GOOD TO see popular diving books get a make-over, and find out how the author reckons he can improve on what is already regarded as authoritative.
So I was eager to discover what was new and improved in this edition of Richard Larn’s book about the diving in his backyard the Scilly Isles, especially as this title dates right back to the early 1990s.
Since its last incarnation in 2010, Larn has been able to source many new ship and especially artefact photographs to include in this seventh edition. These impart a refreshing feel to what is an incredibly easy to read yet detailed history book.
This edition takes full advantage of the discovery of photographs of the bell from HMS Association, the 90-gun second-rate ship of the line lost with all hands (around 800 officers and men) after striking Gilstone Reef in 1707. The event was considered the greatest maritime disaster of the age.
The Association, part of a squadron of 21 ships returning from the Battle of Toulon, was not the only victim that October evening. HMS Eagle, Romney and Firebrand all struck reefs in the area and sank. Of the 1673 men aboard these vessels, only 26 survivors were reported.
Coming closer to the present day, the Scilly Isles were headline news again in1967 when the oil tanker Torrey Canyon struck Pollard Rock, leading to one of the worst oil-spills in history – a slick that stretched from France to Alaska and a story that gripped the world for 12 days.
These are two of the many stories that make Larn’s book such an interesting read, and the clear, detailed maps preceding each chapter help readers to get and keep their bearings throughout.
Importantly the wrecks indexed have been boosted by 14%, from 980 to around 1120. Additional deepwater World War wrecks in particular will be of interest to technical divers.
The blurb promises pictures “both above and underwater”, so my only slight disappointment was in the paucity of underwater photographs, especially considering that more than 900 wrecks are mentioned in the book.
If you’re looking for a practical diving guide for Scilly Isles wrecks, this book is no more such a thing than it ever was. But if you want to read and savour the full background of wrecks you hope to dive (and also those that only archaeologists ever get to visit), Richard Larn’s book has been polished to a fine sheen over the years.
Alex Khachadourian

Shipwreck & Marine
ISBN: 9780952397199
Softback, 228pp, £14.99