Diving South African Wrecks: The SS Maori

There are over a thousand known shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa including SS Maori. We have legendary treasure galleons and fine passenger ships that went to their graves within sight of hope. We have a wild, windswept oceanic climate where the mighty Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet under the watchful eye of a rugged lighthouse.

SS Maori Dive Site: Cape Point Lighthouse South Africa
Cape Point Lighthouse: Photo Megan Beckett / CC BY-SA 3.0

Cape Point Lighthouse Watching over

The SS Maori dive site is a popular location off the peaceful seaside village of Llandudno, a short drive along the coast from Cape Town with many pleasant places to stay. She was a steam vessel belonging to the Shaw Saville Line, a reputable cargo company that still believed in auxiliary sails. One stormy night in August 1909 powerful winds and tumultuous waves drove her onto jagged rocks. The proud ship did not stand a chance when tragedy struck.

SS Maori
SS Maori

SS Maori in Her Prime

Everything conspired against the 32-strong crew, as ocean rollers repeatedly drove their ship up against a formidable rocky cliff. It was winter and it was cold. Even if they had survived the coast was rocky and remote, and no help would have come to them. Spare a thought for brave seafarers gone to their grave with the flywheel spinning unattended.

Wreck SS Maori
This large steam engine may have been cargo or an auxiliary engine of the SS Maori: Photo Peter Southwood / CC BY-SA 3.0

The SS Maori Dive Site

Their watery grave is only accessible by small boat from Hout Bay Harbour, a working small craft port. Many features are still intact including the mighty triple steam expansion engine towering high above the hull with connecting rods still showing. Diving depth is variable depending on the swells. The top of the engine is 6 meters down with a maximum dive depth of 21 meters.

SS Maori Dive Site: The Main Engine High Above the Wreck
The Main Engine High Above the Wreck: Photo Peter Southwood / CC BY-SA 3.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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