This vessel was an iron general cargo steamship of 308 net tons, built by the Barrow Shipbuilding Co Ltd and launched in April 1874. The vessel had 3 masts and was rear engined, her dimensions were 182.0′ x 24.1′ x 12.4′.
The Bono Rock at the north entrance to the Sound of Luing is well situated to catch unwary ships as they navigate through the treacherous tides of this part of the coast. The rock, which lies in the middle of the channel, doesn’t break surface, even at the lowest tides, but reaches to within one metre of it. Even the kelp, which can be seen at low tide, disappears below water at high tide. It is probably therefore surprising that its only significant victim is the SS Apollo.
The Apollo was owned by J M Lennard and Sons of Middlesborough. She was en route from Aberdeen to Newport with a cargo of granite setts under the command of Captain G Guthrie when she ran aground on the rock in dense fog on 15th August, 1900. The captain blamed his misfortune on the combination of the fog, which he said had come down very quickly, and the strong tides which were running at the time. In any event, he was still steaming at more or less full speed when they hit as, when his ship ran straight onto the rock from the north, she was carried right over it leaving the stern high on the rock above water and the foredeck under water. The damage sustained during the impact was severe leaving the hull badly twisted and the boiler raised nearly a foot out of position. The crew made it to Easdale in the ship’s boats but it was obvious that the ship would not be saved. The swell that continually washes over the rock made inspection by divers or removal of the cargo onto smaller vessels extremely difficult and, although the exact details are not recorded, she eventually became a total wreck.
The Wreck Today
The Bono Rock is not one rock but three reefs lying north west of the red can buoy which guides passing shipping away from it. The wreck lies between the northerly and westerly reef in position 56°16.283’N, 05°41.083’W (GPS). The wreck itself has obviously been well salvaged over the years but a considerable amount of material still remains lying in depths of 5 – 11 metres. The cargo of granite setts is lying in huge piles across the site with tangled wreckage in between. The remains of the boiler and the stern section, now lying at the west side of the wreck, with rudder post and propeller are the most recognisable items. The position of the stern section would suggest that, at some point, the wreck was swept off the rock from the north settling on the seabed facing towards the north east. The site is exposed and subject to heavy swell and is also in an area where strong tides could also be a hazard. Good boat cover is essential.