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Talk:Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/Highfields

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E-mails from Grant Whitford with information and sonar scan image for the Highfields[edit]

Hi Peter

I was having a look at the wikitravel Table Bay wrecks and found it very sparse. I can give you info on the SS Highfields and I’m sure if you approach Alistair he will let you have some info on wrecks like the Winton ect.

The Highfields 1902

A British four-masted steel barque of 2 280 tons, built in 1892 by Richardson Duck & Co, Stockton, and commanded by Capt E.R. Dunham. Lost on 14 August 1902 after a voyage from Cardiff to Table Bay with a cargo of coal. She hit the SS Kaiser and sank quickly with the loss of nineteen lives. She lies in 24m and is fairly intact but she is up-side down so it is mostly hull plating that is visible, Around the sides there are a few places where one can see into/under the hull and her huge anchors lie just off the bow. Diving her is especially tricky as she lies only a few meters north of the entrance channel to the harbour. She is just east of the No1 channel entrance buoy. One needs to inform Cape Town port control of the dive and then devise an ascent system that prevents divers drifting south into the channel on ascent and while on the surface. A shot line placed on the bow (furthest point away from the channel) with its buoy attached to a second line to an anchor placed about 100m further north has proved workable. Another way is for divers to tie a sacrificial ascent line to the wreck which they hold onto during ascent and on the surface. They then let go of the line once the dive boat gets to them.

Bow 33° 53’ 07.9” S 18° 25’ 49.8” E

Stern 33° 53’ 08.5” S 18° 25’ 48.0” E



Above text inserted by • • • Peter (Southwood) Talk 23:46, 8 March 2011 (EST)

Hi Peter

Some more info has come to light:

She was a steel four-masted barque of 2 220 tons, 231 feet length with a beam of 44 feet. She had a crew of 27, 23 of whom drowned. She was bound from Cardiff to Cape Town with a cargo of coal.

The steamship Kaiser was at anchor when the Highfields came out of the dark (just after midnight) and hit her anchor chain. The Highfields briefly lay across her bows before being blown off. The Kaiser was not damaged at all. The Highfields sank within 2 to 5 minutes of the collision. Survivors reported that she had been in stormy seas for a few days and had lost most of canvass and her decks were awash. It seems her crew and captain were desperate to find shelter.



Added • • • Peter (Southwood) Talk 09:44, 10 March 2011 (EST)


  • Turner, Colin W.R.: Life and Tragic Death of a Liverpool Barque.

Sea Breezes Vol. 66 (1992), pp 556-564.

  • Middleton, A.W.: In The Highfields.

Sea Breezes Vol. 11 (1951), pp 456.