THE WRECK OF THE BURY IS QUITE NICE, though not the sort of site you would necessarily choose for the first dive of the day. This small steamship was only 151 tons and is now well broken up. It offers a moderate amount of wreckage and marine life, though not enough for it to be worth a full Wreck Tour.
Situated on the south-east side of Skokholm Island in Pembrokeshire, it is conveniently out of the way of the strong currents that make dive-planning so difficult for many sites in this area.
The Bury went down in 1889, but there is nothing about it in the books. Im sure I dived it in the early 80s without knowing what it was, probably just jumping in under the cliffs at random. I then forgot about it until last year, when Steve Lewis suggested we take a look at the wreck.
We simply rolled into about 10m of water in front of an east-facing gully in the north-south cliff. Visibility was clear enough but bitty, as seems usual in the area; good enough for diving, tricky for wide-angle photography.
I landed on some plates resting against the north side of the gully and followed them downhill, along the edge of the wreck past generally splattered wreckage to a more intact section of stern. Here, the four-bladed steel propeller remains in place, rising impressively above the general level of wreckage. The rudder has fallen flat against the seabed below.
Beneath the keel, the wreckage lies across rocks, leaving a small swim-through under the wreck. From the stern, the propshaft can be followed forwards. The protecting tunnel is gone, though steel hoops remain. Perhaps it was made of wood.
The propshaft eventually disappears beneath a jumble of collapsed plates. Following the general line forward - to the other side of the collapsed plates - is the engine room area, though the engine has gone, leaving some bits of its bearings.
The boiler is very small and unusual, looking as if the firebox was at one end and the water boiler part at the other.
There is no sign of the typical fireboxes stretching along inside the boiler. Further forward, all that remains are well-broken scraps covered in a dense layer of kelp.
In water just deeper than 10m aft of the boiler, the other notable piece of wreckage is a cargo winch, resting upright but rotated to lie along the line of the wreck.
From the stern, a trail of bits of girder and hull plate leads into the next gully south. There is no sudden revelation of a major section of wreckage, just a section of the crankshaft from the engine.
If you have seen enough of the Bury by now, further north at a similar depth lies scattered debris from the wooden schooner Alice Williams, though this does not amount to much.
Further to the south there is a swimthrough in the rocks, then the terrain becomes a bit less kelpy and more colourful as you get out towards the currents that sweep along the south of the island. Other wrecks are reported to lie splattered in the shallows under the cliffs here.
Inside the Burys boiler
the wreck can be found below this crack in the cliff
the propshaft is exposed
the steel propeller is intact and stands upright on the seabed
TIDESThe Bury can be dived at any state of the tide.
GETTING THEREFollow the M4 and A40 to Haverfordwest, then the B4327 to Dale and Martins Haven.
DIVING & AIR:Pembrokeshire Dive Charters 01437 781569, West Wales Divers 01437 781457, Dive Pembrokeshire 01437 781117, Dive In To Pembrokeshire 01437 781457
LAUNCHING:Beach-launching for small boats at Martins Haven, though not for larger RIBs. Closest slip is at Dale.
ACCOMODATIONTourist information, 01437 763110.
FURTHER INFORMATION Admiralty Chart 2878, Approaches to Milford Haven. Ordnance Survey Map 157, St Davids and Haverfordwest Area. A cafe is located conveniently at the top of the slip in Dale and a pub is within a few metres.
HOW TO FIND ITThe wreck lies along a gully tight in under the cliff at the west side of Peters Bay. Jump in to about 10m of water directly in front of the gully shown in the photograph. Chart position is 51 41.79N, 5 16.10W (degrees, minutes and decimals).