Orca Sea

One of Cornwall's top boat trips.

Wildlife watching and coastal safaris in some of the UK’s most stunning waters


Shipwrecks & Rescues

Visit notorious areas of rugged Coastline such as the infamous Manacles reef, home to over 100 shipwrecks.

Let our skipper tell you about some of the individual stories or how about the more recent wreck of the Ben Asdale, which can still be seen above the waterline.

Listen to tales of daring rescues on our sea safari. There is nothing more moving than sitting on a boat next to the eerie tolling of the Manacles marker bell and hearing tales of some of the shipwrecks that have occurred along this stretch of coastline, some of which still lie at the bottom of the sea bed.

This coast has claimed many lives in tragic circumstances but many have been rescued by brave lifeboatmen and fishermen, willing to risk their lives in terrible conditions to help save others.


The Mohegan, a 7000 ton Steam Vessel was on her second voyage, carrying 60 passengers and 97 crew.

On 14th October 1898, steaming on an incorrect compass course, she smashed full speed into the Manacles Reef. 106 people lost their lives and most are buried in St Keverne churchyard.

The wreck of the Mohegan still lies at the Manacles at a depth of about 70 feet.

Ben Asdale

On 30th December 1979 the Ben Asdale, a freezer trawler, was off-loading mackerel onto a Russian factory ship in a force 8-10 gale in Falmouth Bay.

Her rope fouled her rudder and she was pushed onto rocks near Maenporth Beach.

After a daring rescue by Coastguards and helicopter, 11 people were saved but sadly 2 Britons and a Russian lost their lives.

The wreck of the Ben Asdale can clearly be seen by boat, laying on rocks close to the beach.


American passenger liner 'Paris' ran aground on the Manacles in mist carrying 700 passengers and crew on 21st May 1899.

The liner remained upright on a bed of rocks and all passengers were able to disembark safely.

'Paris' became a tourist attraction while she sat there but was eventually salvaged and was able to steam quietly away.

The Paris Hotel at Coverack is named after the Ship.

H.M.S. Primrose

On January 22nd 1809 the Eighteen gun Brig H.M.S. Primrose struck the North end of the Manacles Reef.

A crew of 132 officers and men were on board but only one (a drummer boy) was saved.

H.M.S. Primrose was the second ship to wreck on the Manacles that day with the first being the 'Dispatch.'

Nothing really remains now of H.M.S Primrose on the sea bed though one of her coronades (canons) can be found in St Keverne Churchyard.


Transport ship 'Dispatch' was carrying 3 officers and 70 men of the 7th Light Dragoons who were returning home after battle from Corunna, Spain.

At approximately 3am on Jan 22nd 1809 she was driven onto Manacle rocks by huge winds laden with snow in almost zero visibility.

Only 7 privates survived. It was only an hour and a half later that the Brig Primrose started to flounder.

Bay of Panama

A victim of the great blizzard of March 1891, 'Bay of Panama', a four masted sailing ship was on her way to Dundee from Calcutta when the blizzard hit her.

She missed the Lizard and Manacles but hit Nare Point at the head of the Helford River.

The following day the wreck was spotted by a farmer and only 17 of the 40 onboard could be rescued.

It was too late for the other crewmembers who were either frozen to the rigging or taken by the sea. The wreck still lies just 20 metres from shore at a depth of around 9 metres.


The 'John' was a barque of 465 tons, packed full of 263 emigrants bound for Canada.

In May 1855 she was sailing too close to shore and struck the Manacles Reef, ripping away her rudder. Unable to steer she was blown inshore with huge waves lashing the ship.

When a lifeboat could finally get to her they found 86 people alive who had climbed the rigging including the Captain and all the crew, who had left the passengers on the deck with no guidance or help.

Over 120 people perished and the Captain was later found guilty of ignorance, gross and culpable negligence.