The Sugar Boat

Did you know that the award-winning Sugar Boat restaurant in Colquhoun Square gets its name from a shipwreck you can see from Helensburgh – and now you can get up close to the wreck on a boat trip?

If you are standing on the Helensburgh promenade looking towards Greenock, you can see a large shape in the water about a mile from the shore. This is the wreck of the MV Captayannis that was beached on a sand bank in the Clyde on a stormy night in 1974, and is now known locally as the Sugar Boat.

The Sugar Boat
Image courtesy of LuthersVolvo on Twitter
Image courtesy of LuthersVolvo on Twitter

The Captayannis was anchored off Greenock at the Tail of the Bank waiting to unload a cargo of raw sugar from East Africa for processing at the Tate and Lyle refinery when, on the night of January 27, a fierce gale caused her to drag her anchor. The Captain, Theodorakis Ionnis, attempted to start his engines so that he could head for the deep channel into the Gare Loch but, before he was able to do so his ship collided with the anchor chains of a BP tanker, British Light, that damaged his hull.

Drifting eastwards before the strong westerly wind, Captain Ionnis deliberately ran his ship aground on a sand bank near Ardmore just to the east of Craigendoran and about a mile offshore. By now, a small flotilla of rescue boats were in attendance and the 30 crew members were able to jump to safety. However, with the falling tide, which could be as much as 12 feet, the ship rolled onto her side.

Salvage of the wreck would clearly be a major operation but, as ownership and insurance could not be firmly established , it was decided to leave it where it was safely out of the established shipping lanes. And there she remains to this day.

Although many of her fittings have been removed, the overall structure is still intact and the wreck is likely to remain where it is for many years to come.

You can still clearly see the wreck from the shore. A number of providers offer cruises and it is also possible to take a boat trip to view the wreck up close. 

There is a statue of the ship on a plinth in the Outdoor Museum in Colquhoun Square.

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