|Islanders were reminded of their obligations to declare found cargo - some, including some expensive golf bags were returned and those returning them were paid salvage money - though it was accepted by the local police and reported in the local press that there would be little excuse for cars on the islands having bald tyres for many years to come - thus you may guess there was a large consignment of new tyres! Due to difficulty of retrieving cargo most owners abandoned it to the finders in lieu of the payment of salvage. |
The CITA's cargo comprised a very wide range of goods including:
Batteries, polyester sheeting, bulk tobacco, clothing, footwear, tyres, plywood, wooden house doors, computer components - especially computer mice, fork lift trucks, carrier bags destined for the Irish supermarket group Quinnsworth and golf bags.
Apart from the batteries, polyester sheeting (used for making video tape) and bulk tobacco - all of which was considered a pollution hazard most of the cargo were reusable. Stocks of Qunnsworth bags in the island shops outlived the supermarket group itself!
The containers, of course proved to be a hazard to navigation, as some would float just below the surface. Many drifted into the Celtic Sea with a number being recovered by fishermen and brought into Newlyn Harbour.
Unfortunately I had to return home the day after the wreck but was able to capture the appearance of the Marine Pollution Control Unit plane at St.Mary's Airport.
A few days after I left the St.Mary's the CITA slipped off the rocks and sank in deep water, breaking in two.
To be on St. Mary's at the time of the CITA wreck was one of the most memorable things in my life. I will never forget the experience. I took nothing except these photographs - Honest! However, with hindsight, I wish I had secured a small souvenir from the cargo - some holiday visitors were reported to be returning home with tyres!
General cargo ships have been wrecked since the CITA incident - but the UK authorities have soon closed off access to beaches to prevent salvage.
Probably never again will such scenes be witnessed .... I am just glad I did and I hope you enjoy the fascinating pictures.
I just wish I had taken many, many more. Perhaps one day a movie producer will see the potential for making a film that has the potential to be more entertaining than Whiskey Galore!?
The events surrounding the sinking of the CITA on St.Mary's during March 1997 were even stranger than a movie maker could have dreamt - there were, to quote the words of Jud Paynter in the BBC Poldark series when a ship went ashore in a nearby cove "There be pickin's for all!"
John H. Luxton
December 27, 2010