Type: Wreck on gravel sea bed
Qualification Level: Ocean Diver
Depth Range: 16 – 22m
When to dive:Any period of the tide (but full flood on a big spring may give too much current for divers who are not used to it).
Key Features:Always lots of fish; Scallops on surrounding sea bed.
Chart Plotter Name:BAYGITANO
GPS Location: N50°41.8082′ W002°56.0857 ( or 50 41.76’N 002 55.97W (Dive Dorset)
Launch Site Address: West Bay, Dorset, DT6 4HE
Google Maps: Click For Map
Travel time from Boat Shed: 1 hr 15 mins
Site Facilities: Wide slip with ample trailer parking. Pontoon mooring available for short periods. Car park adjacent – £1/hr – max 3hrs but multiple tickets for longer is ok. Variety of food and drink venues and pub close by. Toilets close to the slip behind harbourmasters office.
Launch Fee: Paid annually by SSAC – sticker on RIB console.
Distance over water: 6 miles from West Bay, 20mins over water on 241#
Locators Not buoyed. Site is ?? miles south of Lyme Regis
Air Fill The Old Harbour Dive Centre, 11 Nothe Parade, Weymouth, DT4 8SQ – 18.3 miles, 01305 760 888, Or Scimitar Diving, C/O Aqua hotel, Castletown, Portland, Dorset, DT5 1BD, 20.4 miles, 07765 326728.
Slack Water: Can be dived at any period of the tide but full flood on a big spring may give too much current for divers who are not used to it.
Coastguard 999 or 112 (both numbers function identically)
For advice on diving related incidents or urgent and emergency hyperbaric referrals including carbon monoxide poisoning in the South West of England contact DDRC on +44 (0)1752 209999
Hyperbaric Recompression Chambers:
DDRC: at Tamar Science Park, Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BQ. 24hr Advice Line – 01752 209 999
The Diver Clinic, 7 Parkstone Road (A350), Poole, Dorset, BH15 2NN. 24 hour cover Telephone: Day time – 01202 678278, Emergency 07770 423637 (answer service) A return call will be made
The Baygitano is 325ft long and was torpedoed in 18/03/19. The wreck lays Bow to the shore and is mostly level with the seabed. Prominent remains are the boilers and part of the engine standing upright. It offers shelter to a mass of marine life including large conger eels and shoals of Pouting and other fish.
Built in South Shields in 1905, it was as the Cayo Gitano that the 3073-ton schooner-rigged steamer, 325ft long with a beam of 45ft, first worked as a collier. Just before the start of World War One her new owner, the Bay Steamship Co of London, replaced the ‘Cayo’ with ‘Bay’, in keeping with the rest of its fleet, writes Kendall McDonald.
There was plenty of work for colliers in the war years, particularly running Welsh coal to power French war factories. It was when returning from one such trip that Captain Arthur Murrison lost the Baygitano to a U-boat’s torpedo.
He had been ordered to bring the vessel back from Le Havre in ballast on 18 March, 1918 to reload. He was to join a Channel convoy and then follow the coastal-traffic mine-swept route to Cardiff. It was a voyage he had made almost weekly throughout the war.
From Lyme Bay he followed orders and took his ship close in to shore. This was meant to avoid German U-boats, as it was well known that they didn’t like shallow water. Sadly nobody had told Oberleutnant Johannes Ries. Commanding UC-77, he was waiting in the shallows a mile south of Lyme Regis.
Captain Murrison stopped zig-zagging once close in, mainly because of the heavy mist lying over most of the inshore waters. But the mist didn’t hide the collier from the periscope of UC-77 and Ries fired one torpedo from a bow tube at 11.45am. It blew a big hole in the port side of the Baygitano’s No 4 hold, and Murrison gave the order to abandon ship.
All but two of the 37 men got away in the boats, along with the two Naval gunners who had manned the stern gun. The missing men were the Fourth Engineer, killed in the engine-room, and the First Mate, last seen returning to his cabin for a pair of boots.
Suddenly UC-77 appeared beside one of the boats. Ries questioned those aboard about their ship before heading off east. It was a good job that he had not picked on the captain’s boat, because Murrison still had his ship’s confidential papers with him in a bag.
In a later interview with the Naval authorities, Captain Murrison was severely reprimanded for not weighting the bag. He replied that he was sure the bag would have sunk anyway.
Did they not realise he had just lost two of his crew and his ship?
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