Ramsden.info - Ramsden Locations
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The Ramsden Reef is named after the reef which has formed in the wake of the wreck of the ketch Eliza Ramsden which was holed in 1875 and sunk in the rip of the south channel entrance to Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
According to http://www.abocean.com.au/divesites/sa.shr/dc_divesite_a/1/30
Experience: Level: 2 (Open Water)
Owned by the Reverend Samuel Ramsden and named after his wife.
E-W orientation, Bow to west towards Point Lonsdale, in 21m
Heavy reef growth all around
Can only be dived at slack water, strong tidal currents
Shipping - can only be dived when there are no ships scheduled to use the channel for an hour either side of the dive. Some people have been trying to dive this site for several years - so if you get on it, consider yourselves lucky! Very strong tidal currents, so diving is only possible at slack water. Tide can pick up quickly in this area. Due to the effects of tides, it is sometimes not possible to complete planned decompression stops easily. Divers should plan conservative dive times to allow for this.
The wreck of the Eliza Ramsden has been a favourite of
divers for a number of decades. However because of its location, and the navigational
skill required to find it, many divers have been disappointed and failed to find it. This
has resulted in considerable diving being done around the wreck, and fortunately the
location of some magnificent reef areas - hence the name Ramsden Reef.
The most popular reef is located approx 75m from the wreck, directly towards Pope's Eye. Large Leatherjackets, Sweep, Trumpeter, and Trevally frequent the area with Blue Devil fish complimenting the gorgonia under the ledges where crayfish may also be found.
The Reef slopes at about a 60degree angle down to a sandy bottom. The slope is more severe in several places and it is here that the undercut caves are usually found. The reef is only about 60m long and consequently, can be difficult to find. At each end it breaks into rubble and sand, levelling at 20m in the east and 30m at the western end.
The area must be dived at slack water as the currents race through much to quickly to hang on to the reef. The Ramsden Reef is in the shipping lanes and diving may only be coducted by permit holders and even then only when no shipping is expected.
Required Certification Level: Advanced Open Water (3)
The Eliza Ramsden was a 46m, 415 ton iron barque. She was built in 1874 by Samuel Ramsden, and named after his wife. In July 1875, she left Melbourne for Newcastle, in ballast. She struck Corsair Rock in the Rip, and the ebb tide caused her to be stuck fast. All crew were safely evacuated. She floated clear on the rising tide, and a skeleton crew attempted to beach her near Nepean Bay. She became unmanageable, however, and sunk in the South Channel.
Historical Note: One of the Eliza Ramsden's crew members was Tom Pearce, later to become famous as one of only two survivors in the sinking of the Loch Ard near Port Campbell in 1878.
The Wreck Today
The Eliza Ramsden lies in 21m of water in the South Shipping Channel. The bow points towards Point Lonsdale. Much of the superstructure has been removed by blasting, but the hull is amazingly intact.Today the Eliza Ramsden provides a marvellous dive site for new and experienced divers alike. The bow rises 7m above the sandy bottom, and divers get a real buzz out of sitting on the sand and looking up at this towering structure. The stern is badly damaged. Many specie's of fish inhabit the wreck, making it an excellent dive for photographers. Inside the hull are many bluestone blocks, which the ship used for ballast. The reef which extends north from the Eliza's stern, is also worth a look.
Hazards and Precautions
Being in the shipping channel, special permission is required to dive the Eliza Ramsden. It is only permissible to dive if there is no shipping using the South Channel within an hour either side of your dive. The area experiences very strong tidal currents, so diving is only possible at slack water. As the tide can pick up quickly in this area, we recommend that total dive time be restricted to 30 minutes, and that the dive be terminated once the tide begins to run. Due to the effects of tides, it is sometimes not possible to complete planned decompression stops easily. Divers should plan conservative dive times to allow for this.
The Eliza Ramsden was only one year old when it ran aground on Corsair Rock, Point Nepean Reef. In its short career, it had made only one complete voyage from England to Melbourne, on to Boston and then back to England.
The Eliza Ramsden was owned by prominent Melbourne resident the Reverend Samuel Ramsden and named after his wife. Although there are no photos or illustrations of the vessel, it was said to be the finest ship in the Port of Melbourne and cost £10,000 to build.
The Final Voyage of the Eliza Ramsden
The Eliza Ramsden had just delivered a load of cargo to Hobsons Bay and was making its way to Newcastle loaded with ballast. Captain Steuart, who was in charge of the vessel, was an experienced sailor, although this was the first time he had sailed to Port Phillip Bay. On board the ship were 14 crew members including the young Tom Pearce who was later to survive the tragic Loch Ard disaster.
The Eliza Ramsden left Port Melbourne on the 24th July, 1875 and made its way out toward the Heads. Captain Steuart burned a blue light to attract the attention of a pilot boat to guide the ship out through the Heads and pick up the son of Samuel Ramsden who wanted to be taken to Queenscliff. No pilot boat arrived and the ship proceeded to sail out through the Heads alone. As the ship appeared to be away from the land and sailing well, the Captain went below. Suddenly, the Eliza Ramsden struck hard against Corsair Rock. The ebb tide swung the ship around on its side where it wedged firmly on the reef.
The ship's lifeboats were made ready in case the vessel broke up. The sails were taken in and blue lights and rockets were fired to signal for assistance. A lifeboat left Queenscliff at 9.00pm. As it pulled up alongside the Eliza Ramsden, the Superintendent observed the damage to the vessel. Concerned that the boat was sufficiently damaged and would drift off the reef and sink, he ordered the crew and Captain to board their lifeboats and abandon ship.
Early next morning Captain Steuart arranged with the Master of the Warhawk tug to return to the Eliza Ramsden to see if the ship could be towed off the reef at flood tide. As they made their way out to Point Nepean Reef, they were stopped by local fisherman who said the boat had already floated off the reef and was drifting out towards South Channel. The fishermen had boarded the vessel to try and steer it towards Queenscliff but had not been successful as the ship's rudder was severely damaged.
By the time the tug reached the Eliza Ramsden, it was too late. The vessel had taken water and had settled on the sea floor at thirteen fathoms with only its top gallant masts above the water. As a warning to other vessels, day and night lights were fixed to the masts, although they were eventually replaced by a wreck buoy to mark the site. As shipping increased, the Eliza Ramsden became a navigational hazard and in the 1960s its masts were blown-up with explosives.
At the Marine Inquiry, Captain Steuart was found guilty of negligence while navigating his vessel through Port Phillip Heads. In view of his long service and good character, his Master's licence was only suspended for six months.
The wreck of the Eliza Ramsden was auctioned at the Melbourne Shipping Exchange. The bidding reached £500 before it eased off. Captain Steuart offered £1000 and the auctioneer reluctantly sold him the barque for this amount.
The Eliza Ramsden was built in Glasgow, Scotland. Samuel Ramsden gave the builders strict instructions that no expense was to be spared in constructing a first class vessel.
The ship was one of the early vessels to be constructed from iron. It was a three masted barque and had a round stern and a figurehead of a woman at the bow. As the Eliza Ramsden had only one deck, it was probably built to carry cargo.
The ship had a gross tonnage of 415 tons. It measured 151.6ft (46.2m) in length, 27ft (8.23m) in breadth and 15ft (4.5m) in the hold.
Diving on the Wreck of the Eliza Ramsden
The Eliza Ramsden is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria's Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip Bay. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.
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