Tuesday, December 19, 2006

For Those In Peril On The Sea

A neighbour dropped this Christmas card round today. It's one supplied by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) and helps raise funds for this outstanding organisation. A very pretty picture for sure, but especially poignant today. Cornwall, and the residents of Mousehole in particular, are remembering the crew of the Solomon Browne lifeboat that went down with all hands attempting to rescue those on board the Union Star cargo ship 25 years ago to the day. As part of the reflection on this disaster, BBC2 are showing again the documentary that I referred to in an earlier post that had us signing up as supporters of the RNLI.

Beach Bum's 94 year old grandfather was on the blower tonight. Think salty, slightly pickled Sea Dog and you get the picture for he's a man who spent his working life at sea. Having towed Mulberry harbours to the beaches in Normandy, shot down a Stuka on the way back (not usual for a merchant tug), lugged the first oil rigs to their moorings in the North Sea and still found time to check out most of the bars along the French coast he's had an eventful life.

Not that long ago, he casually referred to the "second time he was shipwrecked" - like you do. Not a man of many words, it took some time to piece the facts together. Back in 1932, he was a young sailor on the Watford, a collier lugging coal from Montreal to Sydney, Nova Scotia.

A hurricane was blowing offshore and they ran into a storm off Cape Breton. The ship was well and truly pummeled onto the rocks.

Several of the crew died but, by all accounts, the locals mounted an amazing rescue attempt and (fortunately for Beach Bum) winched the survivors, including Sea Dog, off the ship.

My uncle tracked down this picture of the beached ship after the storm had passed. Fate, luck, divine intervention - take your pick - but Beach Bum can't help but ponder how tenuously our existence teeters on times past.

1 comment:

Paula the Surf Mom said...

That was just an awsome blog Bum. Thanks so much for posting it,