The Agate was a rear engined coastal steamship built by Scott & Son, Bowling and launched in May 1917. Her dimensions were 199.4’x30.1’x11.9′, and she had a gross registered tonnage of 824 tons. At the time of her loss she was in the ownership of William Robertson, shipowners based in Glasgow.
The Agate was en route from Goole to Belfast with a cargo of coal when she ran aground in thick fog at Cairns Point near Tormisdale on the west coast of Islay. The stranding took place at 4:30am on 30th December, 1940 and Captain Humphries and his crew were taken off by the Islay lifeboat but the following day the ship broke her back and became a total wreck. By the 4th of January she had broken up and was completely submerged. Lloyd’s agent reported her sunk in 10 fathoms.
The Wreck Today
The remains of the Agate lie just north of the point at Rubha Ghlamraidh on the west coast of Islay in position 55°44.202’N 006°29.835’W. There is a prominent ‘sharks fin rock’ lying approximately 20 metres off the rocky coastline, with a deep gully running between. The remains of the Agate lie in the gully, depths in the gully range from 15 to 5 metres at the east end close to shore. The site is over shadowed by the prominent headland directly inshore; the whole area is very exposed to heavy swell from the west and unless the sea state is virtually flat calm, a visit to this site is not recommended.
The wreckage is located in the base of the gully and consists of a four bladed spare propeller, engine parts, prop shaft with a few blades adjacent, and ferrous and non-ferrous debris either loose or fused into the seabed. The remains are testament to the power of the sea, with the prop shaft and engine components bent and distorted by the constant movement of the sea. The site also provides an interesting dive along the steep sided gully, encrusted with colourful sea life.