Deadmans Bay is an almost inaccessible rocky cove on the southern tip of the Marloes peninsula and its westernmost headland, The Deer Park, which juts out into treacherous Jack Sound towards Midland Island and Skomer.
The reason for its sinister name seems to have been lost, but there have been at least a dozen wrecks recorded on this coast over the last two centuries, so it would be no surprise if corpses ended up here.
Vessels whose masters have ventured to take a short cut through Jack Sound, have paid dearly for it. The fast packet paddle steamer Albion came to grief just along the coast in April 1837 when it hit submerged rocks and ended up on the sandy beach which now bears its name - Albion Sands. Fortunately, her 50 passengers and crew together with five horses and 180 pigs were rescued, but the vessel broke up and is now commemorated not just by the name of the beach but the presence of two tall shafts protruding like tombstones from the sands at low tide. Marloes Sands was also the last resting place of the wooden paddle boat The Lass of Gowrie which was wrecked there in October 1881, while a year later the Holme Line steamer Thomas Vaughan was lost with all hands. Another packet steamer, Queen, was wrecked on Skokholm in September 1843 and the two-masted trading schooner Alice Williams foundered on the island in February 1928. Ten years later it was the turn of the 500-ton steamship Lonsdale which ran aground near Marloes in October 1938, and in February 1967 the Dutch coaster Lucy, with a cargo of potentially explosive calcium carbide, was lost when its skipper tried to cut his voyage by slipping through the sound.
The reason that Jack Sound is so treacherous is that the high spring tides run through at six knots and take unwary mariners by surprise when they change direction at half tide and not at full or low water as might be expected. The Sound is also armed with teeth, the jagged Blackstone Rock out of sight just below the surface at high tide.
Little wonder then that Deadmans Bay is so named as it must have been a regular morgue for the bodies of unfortunate mariners - a kind of first cousin to Davy Jones’s Locker.
The cove is visited nowadays only by coasteering enthusiasts and active adventurers who are not daunted by a hazardous climb up and down steep cliffs. It is no place for bathing, but attracts for its isolation. One frequent visitor back in the fifties and sixties was the artist Ray Howard-Jones, who lived in the cottage overlooking the bay at Martin’s Haven, She delighted in clambering down Rennie’s Slip to paint evocative pictures of the primeval shapes of the rocks and boulders which are strewn along this rugged shore. She lived a spartan life and not only painted but wrote poetry about this coast which so inspired her work.