Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Moonlight - Loch Fyne


The Moonlight was a 41nt steel steamship built by Larne Shipbuilding Co and launched in 1913 under the name Ormsa.  Her dimensions were 66.7' x 18.4' x 8.5'. The Clyde Puffer had 1 triple expansion engine, 1 boiler, a single shaft and 1 screw.



The Moonlight left Furnace for Ormidale under the command of relief skipped Stewart Ross with a cargo of granite road chippings on 25 August 1948. The four crewmen and one passenger expected an uneventful voyage but, as they steamed south towards Ardlamont Point, the wind steadily built towards gale force. They were hit by a fierce squall and took two or three heavy seas over the bow. Captain Ross decided to turn back and sit it out in the shelter of Skate Island. They turned round and ran with the wind back towards the island which lies north of Ardlamont Point. Huge waves continued to buffet the ship but the crew were beginning to relax when the pressure of water on the dek burst into the forecastle and the ship began to fill. She quickly took on a heavy list and began to founder. The people on board had very little time to prepare before the ship sank beneath the surface throwing them into open water. 


A rescue from shore was launched by guests and the gamekeeper of the J W Turnbull escape, but the rescue boat also got into difficulties as the engine was flooded in the high seas. Luckily they drifted ashore and escaped safely. James Cooper, the deckhand, was the only lucky survivor. He struggled in the stormy seas to reach and grab hold of the upturned lifeboat and held on grimly as the wind and waves pushed him the mile or so to the shore. Meanwhile, Turnbull himself organised a shore search party who found Captain Ross' body.


Before another rescue attempt could be launched, an exhausted James Cooper staggered to the lodged and adter knocking at the door collapsed on the step. The gamekeeper's wife revived him with a hot meal and some dry clothes. The bodies of three other people aboard the Moonlight were never found. A single lifebelt with the name Moonlight was the only trace of the ship washed ashore.


Dive Site Info

The wreck of the Moonlight lies to the south west of Kilbride Bay in a maximum depth of 40 metres at the bow. She lies on an even keel on a gently sloping seabed orientated with her bow pointing SSW. The wreck rises on average 3-4 metres off the seabed.


The wreck is substantially intact although her engine casing appears to have been damaged on the starboard side, perhaps by a fishermands trawl. There are no hazards to diving this wreck which often provides an excellent dive with shoals of fish and good visibility.

When to dive

Can be dived at any state of the tide.