This small wreck off North Wales was not identified as a trawler until long after its sinking in 1941, and it’s very much a wreck of two halves, says JOHN LIDDIARD. The illustration by MAX ELLIS should help with navigation
THIS MONTH’S TWO-PART WRECK was dived under various assumed names for many years. Sometimes it was known as the “Lady Windsor“, sometimes as “the Tug” and then, by Chester BSAC, as “Not the Lady Windsor”, after the club had confirmed that it was in fact a trawler.
Finally the Chester BSAC divers identified it as the Kincorth through a combination of general configuration as a trawler, the damage tying in with the mine explosion, and the measured dimensions, as far as these could be determined for a wreck in two parts.
A final complication was that another wreck was already identified as the Kincorth, so in the course of fixing the identity of this month’s Wreck Tour, they also had to correct the identity of the other wreck as the Cartagena.
Our tour begins at the port side of the stern (1), the highest point of the larger part of the wreck, standing some 4m above a general seabed depth of 28m on a low-water slack.
The stern has a slight list to port. As is common in this area, the covering of plumose anemones is broken only by small patches of silt on the more level surfaces of the wreckage.
Heading forward along the starboard side, the starboard trawl-gallows (2) has fallen over the deck. Next to it, a rounded rectangular plate with an open pyramid of steel bars roughly in the centre is an otter-board, part of the trawl gear used to hold the net open.
Now we come to the engine-room. The skylight and cabins above the main deck have completely decayed to leave the engine-room open.
Reaching up to main deck level, a vertical cylinder against the aft bulkhead (3) is a water tank.
The triple-expansion steam engine (4) runs along the centre of the engine-room.
The wreck is typically swarming with a shoal of pouting, and you may have to push them apart to see the engine.
Approximately level with the front of the engine, the sides of the hull become broken, and soon decay down to seabed level at 28m.
A scattering of wreckage leads a few more metres forwards, but soon fizzles out (5). This is the northernmost extent of the wreckage.
Our route now follows the port side aft (6). Off to the west, the sand and silt banks up beside the wreck almost to deck level. Behind the engine-room, the main deck resumes and the port trawl gallows is intact (7), arching up a couple of metres above the deck.
A skylight stands above the deck, with small portholes in back and sides (8). The cabin below would have been the crew’s quarters. Behind this, a pair of closed boxes are secured to the deck.
A large section of the gunwale that would have wrapped round the stern has somehow become bent up and across the wreck (9). Covered in anemones, this could be mistaken for one of the beams that are fixed across the deck of a tug to prevent tow cables from fouling, and is no doubt why one of the previous incorrect identifications of this wreck was as a tug.
Pairs of bollards stand either side of the deck. Then, in the middle of the stern, a pair of small Admiralty-pattern anchors (10) are secured to the deck.
Dropping under the stern to the seabed, both the rudder and propeller are still in place (11), with the rudder twisted slightly to port.
This is probably enough for a no-stop dive on air, so the bow section of the wreck could be separately shotted and toured as another dive. For those with nitrox and happy to do a bit of deco, our tour now continues to the bow which, oddly, lies aft of the stern.
To find the bow, head out aft from the stern due south (12). There will initially be a bank of sand to the right or west that gives a nice line south, but away from the wreck this flattens, and direction has to depend solely on compass and judgment.
Divers new to the wreck may find it best to use a reel and line, but once you know it, as long as the visibility isn’t too bad a line isn’t really needed.
After about 50m the first sign of proximity to the bow will be the bank of sand climbing again to the right or west, then the boiler (13) appears out of the green gloom. The boiler stands on end immediately in front of the bow.
The bow lists to starboard, so our illustration now switches to viewing the wreck from the east. A few metres off the starboard side of the bow, the trawl-winch has also fallen to the seabed (14).
Continuing round the bow, the hull soon drops to the seabed, with a mound of debris (15).
Continuing round the bow on the seabed, off the port side the sandbank rises to the west, with a trail of small scraps of wreckage up the bank (16).
Back down the bank, and following the mound of debris up the inside of the bow, the only big item of wreckage that is easily recognisable is a large anchor (17), partly tangled among the debris. If you plan to finish the dive at the bow, this would be a good place to release a delayed SMB.
To return to the stern is a matter of swimming north (18) with the sand bank to the west, now on the left.
As to how the Kincorth became wrecked in this unusual pattern, best speculation is that the trawler was steaming north when it struck a mine that blew away the central part of the hull, where the hold would be.
The bow went down immediately, while the rest of the trawler continued forwards.
The trawl-winch would have been located about halfway back on the deck, immediately forward of the wheelhouse, and then tumbled off beside the bow.
The boiler then fell out of the open wound of the hull, while the stern stayed up for the next 50m, continuing under its own momentum before sinking 50m ahead of the bow.
THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
THE KINCORTH, fishing-boat. BUILT 1909, SUNK 1941
THEY NAMED THE LITTLE LONG-LINER Kincorth after a district near Aberdeen.
It wasn’t a surprising choice of name, because Abernethy & Co of Aberdeen had the small 148-ton ship built in 1909 in the Torry Shipbuilding Yard there, writes Kendall McDonald.
After she was launched that April, she was powered by a single boiler and a triple-expansion steam engine of 46hp. A little over 100ft long, with a beam of 21ft, she drew just on 11ft.
Her original owners specialised in long-line fishing, and Kincorth didn’t let them down. Her catches were good, and over the next eight years she would have gone on fishing had it not been for the war. In February 1917, Kincorth was hired by the Admiralty for “special service”. What exactly this meant it’s difficult to know, but the Admiralty kept her until 1926.
She then had a succession of owners, one of whom had her converted into a trawler, operating out of Fleetwood with a local crew of 11.
The Kincorth continued fishing as a trawler until she suddenly disappeared following a large explosion off Moelfre Island on 10 December, 1941. There were no survivors from her crew.
She had clearly hit a mine, because the steel wreck is badly broken into bow and stern sections.
GETTING THERE: Follow the A55 across North Wales to Anglesey. Once over the bridge, take the A5025 towards Amlwch or, for Traeth Bychan, turn right after just under 10 miles and follow the lane down to the beach.
HOW TO FIND IT: The GPS co-ordinates for the stern section are 53 23.785N, 004 08.405W (degrees, minutes and decimals). The bow section is about 50m directly south.
TIDES: Slack water is 1 hour and 15 minutes before low-water Liverpool.
DIVING: Julie-Anne operates out of Amlwch, 01407 831210. Chester BSAC.
ACCOMMODATION & AIR: Taldrwst Bach Farm, Dulas, has a static caravan and limited camping, and can provide air for divers staying on the site, 01407 832220. It is a bit out of the way, so look up LL68 9RG on Google maps.
QUALIFICATIONS: A depth of 28m means that PADI Advanced Open Water or BSAC Sports Divers are well-placed to benefit from nitrox.
LAUNCHING: Beach-launching at Traeth Bychan.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 1977, Holyhead to Great Ormes Head. Ordnance Survey Map 114, Anglesey. The Essential Underwater Guide to North Wales Volume Two, South Stack to Colwyn Bay by Chris Holden.
PROS: Both parts of the wreck are a nice size and complexity for no-stop dives, or swim between the two for more advanced divers
CONS: Until you know the way between the two parts, you could easily get lost.
Thanks to Chris Holden, Justin Owen and members of Chester BSAC.
Appeared in DIVER January 2011