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New Attraction at Capernwray Dive Site: The Ted Tandy


Ted Tandy joining sunken fleet
Ted Tandy joining sunken fleet

Popular inland dive site Capernwray has gained a new dive attraction – the former Barrow pilot boat that has been named The Ted Tandy, and Editorial Director Mark Evans paid it a visit.

Photographs by Mark Evans and Capernwray.

The Arrival and Installation of The Ted Tandy

The Ted Tandy is lifted out of the car park
The Ted Tandy is lifted out of the car park

Regulars to the popular inland dive site of Capernwray, located at Jackdaw Quarry near Lancaster, will have seen a huge black-and-white vessel sat in the car park up behind the dive centre for many months, but late last year, it eventually made the move to its final resting place in the depths of the quarry.

Conversations I’d had with Chris Collingwood and the team about the proposed sinking came somewhat true – they were more than a little worried about getting the Ted Tandy to actually sink as it contained so much buoyancy – but true to form, they dealt with any issues and it is now awaiting visitors on the far side of the quarry beyond the Podsnap minesweeper and before you get to the Pigs and the Gnome Garden.

I have made several visits to the Tandy over the past few months, and it is getting a decent coating of algae growth now, so it is not quite so vibrant white as it was after it initially sank, but make no mistake, it is still hard to miss it!

The Journey to The Ted Tandy

The Ted Tandy initially turned turtle but is now upright on the bottom
The Ted Tandy initially turned turtle but is now upright on the bottom

There are various routes you can take to get to the Ted Tandy, but to avoid having to have a sawtooth profile, I find the quickest – and easiest in terms of navigation – is to go in on the right-hand side of the jetty, and drop down the gravel slope. Head off with the Hawker Siddeley (HS) 748 airplane to your right and skirt past the container topped by the light aircraft and ‘oil rig’ until you get to the Podsnap Dickensclass minesweeper.

Swim up the bottom of the Podsnap, and as you reach the rudder, peel off to your right and follow the rocks around in an arc. You will soon come across a prehistoric-looking tree stump nestled in the rocks. At this point, if you look ahead of you, you should be able to see the distinct outline of the Ted Tandy sitting side-on to you. It is an easy eight- to ten-minute swim, depending on how fast you are finning.

The Unique Features of The Ted Tandy

Ted Tandy being lowed into water
Ted Tandy being lowed into water

Being a former pilot boat, the Tandy is a robust, impressive-looking vessel, with a chunky bow and hull, and a purposeful shape to the upper superstructure. Virtually all of the interior has been taken out, along with all of the windows, so there are plenty of access points inside. You can go through the main door at the stern, which is flanked by shiny metal railings – perfect for your buddy to pose for a photograph – or you can go in through the windows down either side and the front of the bridge.

Just back from the bow – again adorned with metal railings – you can drop down into the hull, and from here either do a short swim-through into the very ‘V’ of the hull, now filled with sand bags and old storage cylinders to aid the voyage to the bottom of the quarry, or head towards the stern and come up into the bridge area. This is another good spot for photographers, as if you cram yourself into the bottom and have your buddy swim out of the bridge above you, you can frame several of the windows around the dive for a pleasing composition.

Unlike the Podsnap, which lies on its side, the Ted Tandy sits perfectly upright on the bottom, and so if you get behind the helm – with the wheel still in place – you almost feel like you could be motoring along.

The Story Behind The Ted Tandy's Name

The man, the legend - Ted Tandy himself
The man, the legend – Ted Tandy himself

The Ted Tandy is named after the oldest registered diver on the Capernwray roster, who also has a colourful past, including being a member of the elite Special Boat Service (SBS).

When Capers obtained the vessel, Ted stepped up to get it ready for sinking, spending literally hundreds of hours prepping the boat in all weathers. Members of the Capernwray staff stepped in to assist, but by and large, the majority of the work was done by Ted, hence the boat’s name in his honour.

The Allure of Capernwray

Chris Collingwood checking out the process
Chris Collingwood checking out the process

Capernwray is one of the most-popular inland dive sites in the UK, and for various reasons. It is extremely picturesque, sitting right on the edge of the Lake District, boasts more sunken attractions than virtually any other similar facility, has a massive stock of fish life, including sturgeon, roach, perch and trout, plus the odd Koi carp, and has a fabulous clubhouse with the Porthole Restaurant for grabbing a pre- or post-dive bite to eat and a warm drink – you are even welcome to head inside wearing your drysuit! Throw in a warm Lancashire welcome from all of the team, and you have all the ingredients for a great day of diving.

Capernwray's Other Attractions

Capers, as it is known by its legions of fans, is also a popular location for open-water swimming, so don’t be surprised to see people wandering past in swimming costumes and towels while you are bedecked in drysuits and thermal undersuits!

The Ted Tandy's new resting place

This article was originally published in Scuba Diver UK #72

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