Locating HMS Anson, with a snorkel.

The Royal Naval frigate, HMS Anson, is an important wreck in British history. After witnessing the wreck of the Anson, so close to shore, Henry Trengrouse (18 March 1772 – 14 February 1854) invented the ‘Rocket‘ life-saving apparatus. John Hearle Tremayne was a member of parliament in Cornwall, he introduced the Burial of Drowned Persons Act 1808, as a consequence of the Anson’s sinking. The act provides that unclaimed bodies of dead persons cast ashore from the sea, can be removed and decently interred in consecrated ground.

The Anson is a well known wreck in the area. Information about it after it’s sinking and it’s current condition, is less well known. There isn’t an official location, there isn’t even anything in any books, just a sketch in one. It’s location is on Loe Bar, a shingle bar that separates Loe Pool from the sea. The shingle is almost fluid and constantly moves with even the lightest of wave action. The area is also well known for being an extremely dangerous place to swim. Diving is not easy and the exit is hazardous for anyone. There are some images of divers near cannons, labelled as the Anson’s guns, from 2005. We decided it was time we looked to see if we could find anything.

The walk down from the car park is over half a mile, a long way to carry dive gear, so we decided to snorkel the site. It was December 1, we were in wetsuits, armed with masks, snorkels and fins. The overflow from Loe pool reduced the in water visibility, especially at the surface, probably due to a halocline (where lighter fresh water floats on top of the heavier salt water). The sea bed was hard to see from the surface, so we had to duck dive below the halocline. Eventually we saw a rusty object. It turned out to be the top of one of the Anson’s guns. It was quite close to shore and very shallow. We need to return and get a GPS fix but at least we know where part of it is now.