TO THE NORTH OF SKOMER ISLAND off Pembrokeshire in Wales, almost straight out from North Haven, the wreck of the Lucy (Wreck Tour 3) is the most requested dive-site among local charter-boats.
It may be just a little deeper than BSAC Sports Divers are supposed to go, or PADI Advanced Open Water without a deep speciality, but that doesn’t seem to limit the number of divers wanting to see it.
To the west of the Lucy is the North Cliff of Skomer, and to the east is Rye Rocks. Both are regular dives for my local club on their annual week in the area each summer, especially for the newly qualified divers who have to watch their depth.
As a consequence, the more experienced divers end up leading the newer ones for lots of forays across the shallow reef at Rye Rocks, then over the edge of the wall without going too deep.
And this is where the problem starts. Not with the dive site, but with the whingeing. “Not Rye Rocks again. I’ve already dived it twice this week. Can’t I get a dive on the Lucy / North Cliff / Garland Stone / Tusker Rock…” (delete as applicable).
I admit that from my point of view Rye Rocks is not as much fun as the North Cliff. Perhaps that’s because on North Cliff you can drop in close to the rocks and almost immediately descend onto the wall. At Rye Rocks, the obvious reef that breaks the surface is at the back of a shallow plain of boulders and kelp.
Further offshore, another line of reef that doesn’t quite break the surface tends to hem you in. Unless you keep a close eye on your compass, it’s quite easy to end up going round in circles in the shallows.
My personal preference is to take time while still in the boat to find the outer reef, then drop onto the outer edge of it. Others who know the site well have their own preferred spots inshore, and navigate round the outer reef to the wall.
Either way, at any time other than slack water, unless you drop in so close to the cliffs that you spend your entire dive swimming north, you need to descend fairly briskly to avoid getting swept off.

“NOT RYE ROCKS AGAIN!” The whingeing continues, although there is one diver who has, by pure chance of the dive rota lottery, managed to dive nothing but the North Cliff for the past few days, and is looking forward to a change.
“Well, if you don’t want to do Rye Rocks again, how about the mast of the Lucy” suggests our dive marshal, who is getting increasingly creative to appease the masses.
The mention of wreckage immediately gets the attention of everyone on the beach at Martin’s Haven. On 14 February, 1967, the Lucy originally ran aground on the Cable, to the south in nearby Jack Sound, then floated off overnight and sank in its current location, remarkably intact – except that the forward mast was missing.
I have dived the mast of the Lucy before, but not for a while, so I’m quite happy to have a splash and get some new photographs.
It rests on a ledge, tipped against the wall to the north of Rye Rocks. Many divers swim past without even noticing it, going below it, above it or even through the triangular gap between the mast and the wall.
The good news today is that the Marine Reserve has been surveying the area and has left a small buoy tied to it. Finding the mast is as simple as following the buoyline.
This far out from Rye Rocks, there is quite a bit of current. The buoyline is put to good use as a few pairs of divers haul their way down.
Close in to the wall there is some shelter, and the current is low enough that everyone can disperse a little along the wall and have a look around, rather than crowding the mast.
As for the mast, well, it’s a mast. It leans against the reef at 12m, with its other end on a ledge a few metres deeper. It is mostly covered in a brown-green turf of hydroids and bryozoans, with a few small anemones and cup corals.
Look in close, and small nudibranchs are munching their favourite foods. Overall, it is pretty much like the marine life on the wall against which it leans.
On the wall, some outcrops have clumps of dead men’s fingers or yellow boring sponges. As usual in the early summer around Skomer Island, spider crabs are rampant.
I have seen patches of elegant anemones on the mast section in the past, but not this time.
Below the mast hangs a pulley that would have been part of a cargo derrick. While the anemones have moved on, this time round clusters of cuttlefish eggs hang from scraps of old rope beneath the mast, wafting in the current.
Looking closely with a bright dive light, I can pick out the individual eggs within the gelatinous fronds.

THE BIG QUESTION IS THIS: how did the mast get here The rest of the Lucy sank upright and intact. Did the mast for some reason break off just before the vessel sank
In the process of sinking and drifting with the current, did the Lucy capsize, the mast break off against the reef, and then turn upright again before sinking less than 100m away
When I first came to Skomer, we used to tie a buoyline to the top of the main mast of the Lucy. But that started to wobble, so we then tied off to the stern, and now the Marine Reserve keeps a line tied to the bow.
At the back of the forecastle, the anchor-winch is upside-down to one side of the deck, and there is a stub where the forward mast used to stand.
My favourite theory is that some time before 1979 (when I first dived there) a large dive-boat tied off to the anchor-winch or forward mast. The tie-off point was not strong enough, and the mast broke loose.
The boat drifted towards Rye Rocks in the current, perhaps with the bow rather low in the water, and either managed to cut the line free, dropping the mast, or the whole lot caught against the reef and the line was cut free later.
There are some quite substantial ends of rope still on the mast that could support my theory, but that could just be wishful thinking.
There are Navy divers based in Pembroke Dock, so perhaps one of their large boats was involved.
If you were on that dive-boat in the early years of the Lucy, perhaps you could write to Off-Gassing at DIVER and enlighten us.
Back on the beach at Martin’s Haven, “Mast of Lucy” becomes a popular dive site, much more popular than Rye Rocks. It’s amazing what can be achieved with a re-branding exercise.
The trick is to get the marketing right; the effect could have been the opposite if our dive marshal had rebranded Rye Rocks as Consignia.