The Mystery of the Caroline of Leigh

 

Just over a month after one of Dorset’s biggest shipwrecks Aeolian Sky the yacht Caroline of Leigh on her maiden voyage left Weymouth harbour in December 1979 on route for Greece via Bordeaux in France. She was never to arrive in fact she had travelled barely eight miles before she was also wrecked with the loss of four lives. Nothing was known of the tragedy until signs of wreckage appeared on Dorset beaches and eventually three bodies were discovered, it was almost six months later that the wreck was located after a trawler had reported an obstruction. Divers found the yacht had been broken completely in two with only the handrails holding the two halves together and there was no sign of the forth crew member. There were many theories from structural failure, explosion, collision and always the suspicion that there may be more to the story, after all why did the experienced skipper leave port in a gale? The coroner came to the conclusion that the yacht would forever hold its secrets and felt that although his summing up was unsatisfactory he would have to close the case. Thirty-eight years later the shattered remains of Caroline still lay on the seabed forgotten until The Shipwreck Project came across them recently. Even after all this time a fresh look at what is there and in particular what lays some distance away from the main wreck enables a few questions to be asked that weren’t at the time. It is quite possible that even all these years later we may be able to shed some light on what actually happened that night. We are at this time in discussions with relatives of the crew who are very keen to learn more if they can so lets see what we can do over the coming months. Picture taken by divers at the time confirming the wrecks identity.

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