Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: John Strachan - Islay & Jura


The John Strachan was a 42nt iron steamlighter, built by Swan & Co. of Glasgow, launched in 1885. She had a single hold.


She was lost on the 8th December 1917 whilst on passage from Port Ellen to Loch Etive. How the sinking came about is something of a mystery, however it is unlikely that she came to grief in a severe storm as her hull is completely intact and undamaged. Given the fact that her single hold was completely empty, it is more likely that she was simply too light, and became unmanageable because of this, her crew being unable to keep her off the reef. Her loss could also be put down to a navigational error in poor visibility leading her to run aground on the reef. At some point she must have slipped off the reef into her current position.


Items reported to the Receiver of Wreck include three bottles taken from the seabed.

Dive Site Info

This wreck of this small, steam-powered puffer lies amongst the treacherous rocks and reefs situated off the Ardbeg distillery. The John Strachan lies south of rocks off the south west tip of Eilean Imersay. The seabed depth ranges from 6 metres at the stern to 9 metres at the bow which points south east. She lies upright but slightly listing on her port side in an average depth of 8 metres of water. The site is relatively sheltered, which possibly accounts for why the hull of this small vessel is still intact despite the number of years she has been submerged under the sea.


The wreck forms an extension to the reef which attracts a diverse array of marine life. Her hull is covered in a rich coating of marine growth, including kelp, colourful sponges and other encrusting sealife, particularly around her stern area, where her old iron propeller remains in place. The hull falls away around the stern accommodation allowing light to flood this part of the wreck. Swimming over her aft end it is possible to pull back the kelp and descend down into her small accommodation section. The vessels cargo hold is empty, as is the small locker room in her bow section.


The wreck of the John Strachan makes for an interesting dive, especially given her obvious age and relatively intact state.

When to dive

The John Strachan can be dived at any state of the tide. Due to her shallow depth, she makes an interesting second dive.