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The dive site MV Daeyang Family is an offshore recent wreck on rocky reef in the Robben Island area on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.


Map of the site at the wreck of the MV Daeyang Family
MV Daeyang Family wreckage. Possibly a centrifugal pump or turbocharger from the main engine
Hottentot seabream at MV Daeyang Family wreckage
View through the main engine block of MV Daeyang Family wreck with piston rod visible

This is the wreck of a very large ship. It is very broken up as it is in an area of high energy wave action, but parts of the wreck are still quite awesome to see for the sheer size. The wreck is conveniently near a launch site, and is shallow enough for beginners to dive if the sea is flat enough.


  • 1 MV Daeyang Family - Engine block: S33°50.388' E18°23.133'
  • 2 MV Daeyang Family - Lifeboat wreck: S33°50.416' E18°23.195'

A short distance from the navigation buoy at Whale Rock.

This site is in the Robben Island Marine Protected Area since 2019. A permit is required.


The MV Daeyang Family was a large Korean ore carrier which was wrecked on Whale Rock on 1st March 1986 when anchors dragged in heavy weather, with a cargo of 162000 tonnes of ore.


The wreck lies on a bottom that varies from about 15 m to about 19 m. The shallowest point is on top of the engine block at about 5 m. Most of the wreckage is low and not more than 2 to 3 m above the underlying reef.


Visibility is not often good, as the wreck is very close to Whale Rock, where there is a break in all but the flattest conditions. On a good day visibility may exceed 10m.


The underlying reef is fairly low profile, and is a blocky sedimentary rock, probably hard sandstones. The low areas are covered by angular grit of about 6 mm, which may be the remains of the cargo.

The wreck itself is very broken up. The hull form is unrecognizable, and the plating has been torn apart and scattered over a far wider area than the original width of the ship, but there are extensive areas of hull plating that remain flat, and in some areas roughly horizontal, though they may originally have been the sides of the ship, as there are no features typical of a deck. This area is at about 14m deep and about halfway along the hull. There are few areas higher than 2 to 3 m above the reef, and the highest item by far is the block of the 8 cylinder low speed crosshead marine diesel engine, which stands upright on a botton of about 16 to 17 m and rises more than 10 m high. Much of the engine is missing, including the intake and exhaust manifolds and ducting, and any turbochargers that may have been fitted, but the remaining structure is still an imposing sight, looming out of the blue like a small block of flats. The crank case covers have mostly been lost, and the crankshaft, connecting rods, and in some cases the crossheads and piston rods, are visible.

The engine block is about 20 m long, and the aft end can be recognised by the flywheel. There is no gearbox as this was a direct coupled engine. There are several beams projecting horizontally from the starboard side of the block, which may have supported catwalks and ancillary equipment.

About 20 m to the north of the engine block there are remains of a water-tube boiler. The steam and water drums are now roughly vertical and the tube banks somewhat distorted, The druns project about 2 to 3 m above the adjacent wreckage.

Near to the boiler, probably less than 10 m to the east, there is the remains of a large centrifugal pump, which has a broken casing and the interior can be seen.

Low areas under the wreckage between the rocks of the reef appear to be filled by small angular grit particles, of about 5 mm mesh size. This may be the remains of the cargo.

Geology: Pre-Cambrian sedimentary rock probably of the Tygerberg formation.


The site is exposed to wind from all directions and swells from the north west and southwest, so should be dived when the sea is almost flat, and particularly the south west swell component is short period. The site is usually at it's best in summer but there may also be occasional opportunities in autumn and early winter.

This is an area where a strong south easterly wind sometimes develops in a short time, however the forecasts are usually reliable, and the wind is unlikely to be more than a nuisance on the way back.

Get in[edit]

The site is only accessible by boat. It is about 7.2 km from the Oceana Power Boat Club slipway


Marine life[edit]

The wreckage is not notably encrusted. There are large patches of juvenile black mussel (August 2011) sea urchins, and large numbers of West coast rock lobster, and the engine block has the large red-bait pods one would expect in this area. By February 2020, areas of large black mussels, and on some parts quite well developed sponges, bryozoan colonies and hydroid colonies.

Large shoals of Hottentot seabream can be seen over the wreckage.


Wreckage of a large steel cargo vessel. mostly just mangled plates. but the engine, boiler and pump make an interesting dive, and the lifeboat wreck is worth a visit if you have the time


Wide angle. The wider the better, and hope for good visibility. If the viz is good the light should be sufficient to get some impressive shots of the huge wreckage. There is very little small stuff worth photographing at this site.


No specific routes recommended. If you start at the lifeboat wreck, you could spend about 10 to 15 minutes there, and then navigate to the engine area, which is about 325° magnetic, 100 m away. After the first 60 m or so you should see low wreckage over the bottom/ Continue until you reach the engine. From the west end of the engine swim due north magnetic about 15 m to the boiler, then due east about 10 m to the pump. To return to the engine block swim SSW 20 m.

Stay safe[edit]


Strong surge is likely unless the sea is quite flat. There my be sharp edged wreckage, and the water will be cold. The wreck is fairly close to the northern edge of the main shipping lane of the approaches to Cape Town Harbour.


No special skills recommended. The site is suitable for entry level divers of reasonable skill if the conditions are good.


Good insulation is recommended. A 7 mm wet suit or dry suit is suitable. A DSMB and reel are recommended if you are not going to ascend at the shotline. This will alert the skipper to your position and that you are ascending, and reduce the risk of being run down by other craft.


Back to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay

This dive guide to MV Daeyang Family is a usable article. It has information on location and equipment as well as some complete entries on what to see. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.