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Review from Sport Diver:

South Coast Shipwrecks -                     
Off East Dorset and Wight 1870-1979
David Wendes
ISBN:  0955459214       
Self Published
RRP:  £35

"An essential book"

This book is the result of many, many years of research – both into the shipwrecks covered and also the historic photography included with them. That research began as a hobby and, like Topsy, just “growed!” The end product can only be regarded as an excellent job of work. To discover the book is self-published by the author brings even greater credit to him.

In addition to the time spent reading the book, I also took it upon myself to pause every so often to randomly check the details of some of the entries. I did not find one single error.

Exceedingly well laid out, we begin with an introduction which explains how the author has tackled the subject of 176 shipwrecks in a specific area off the East Dorset and Isle of Wight coastlines. The author is equally specific about which wrecks are covered and which are not. From a divers viewpoint, he got it exactly right.

Then we find 6 pages explaining the complexities of wreck identification. Not only is this vitally important, it was interesting to see how Mr Wendes tackled the subject himself. It also gives those who have no knowledge of the intricate nature of shipwreck research, a taste of what is involved.

Now we come the wrecks themselves. These were all lost between 1870 and 1979. There are no chapter numbers just a selection of 176 vessels in the order of the date they were lost - and what a selection it is. We begin with the SS Normandy sank after a collision on 17 March 1870. Here the author goes straight to the most interesting part of any shipwreck story – the story of her loss. One and one half pages of exciting narrative which, when combined with all those other wrecks, also makes this book a great read.

Then, having told us the story of how this once great vessel was lost, we find all the technical details such as; When and where built and by whom, machinery, dimensions, tonnage and so forth. Most important of all, Mr Wendes, who operates a “Dive Charter” service, has also given the precise position of each wreck. And so it goes from wreck to wreck with the author skilfully and carefully imparting all those many years of research and diving to anyone who cares to purchase a copy and read all about them.

Of course, some of the shipwrecks mentioned have yet to be discovered - and nobody could impart their position until they are found. Nevertheless, all the remaining information collected by Mr Wendes is still included. Should one of these be of particular interest to you or your group – you will find all your research right here.

The vast majority of the ships included are illustrated with a black and white photograph of the original ship - with some having additional photographs, others are supported by line drawings of the vessel in question. I have no doubt the author will have scoured every available source looking for some form of representation of those few vessels which have no picture. I say this because those photographs which are included reveal the incredible painstaking detail this author has put into every aspect of this book. With a further collection of 68 colour photographs placed together in the middle of the book showing some of the many artefacts recovered over the years, this is a book that all divers will wish to read.

I would suggest this book is an essential addition to the book shelves of all serious wreck divers.

NM

An essential book
68 colour photographs of recovered artefacts

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