The party trips to St Mary's Town Beach :>)
Coo's key: RNLI = Royal National Lifeboat Institution; Agnes = the lighthouse of St Agnes, another Scilly isle; Rosevear = the largest of the Western Rocks :>o
Old Chuck's yarn'The sea! The sea!' the mossops sighed, and gazed with happy eyes
on seaweed waters, bobbing boats, all under summer skies;
'Indeed,' chirped Coo, 'Town Beach, where one may take a sandy seat,
or stroll along the shore with mooring ropes wrapped round one's feet.'
'This length's particularly strong,' mused FT, of some twine,
'I think it's from a lifeboat – yes, the station's there, the sign—'
'RNLI,' the mossops chorused, looking out and east
towards a brick house with a ramp, 12 metres long at least.
'Ayes, there's the station,' came a voice; the party turned to see
a grey-haired gent aboard a blue-hulled coble named Marie.
'Good day, Marie,' Coo greeted him. 'Nay, birdie, I'm Old Chuck,'
he answered, chuckling. 'That's Charles Steel, well known for sailin' pluck!
'Come join me in my quarters if a yarn ye'd like to hear,'
Old Chuck went on, 'about a stormy night, filled full of fear!'
'Do let's!' The mossops bounded boatwards, Coo not far behind,
then FT floating into place, once she was thus inclined.
''Twas January 4th, the year of 1841,'
the seaman started, 'when we saw the flares and heard the gun –
the SS Thames, it were, a steamship travellin' London's way
from Dublin town, commanded by a Captain Robert Gray.
'The seas were heavy, west winds whippin' hellish hail an' snow;
the Thames fires all blew out, the stout tides tossed her to an’ fro –
Gray thought he sighted Longships Lighthouse, tried to steer her right,
but it were Agnes blarin' through the black an' grey an' white!
'That poor ship ran aground upon the Devil's own West Rocks –
a choppy place in quiet times, nowt like your peaceful lochs! –
she'd hit 'em sharp, the wildin' waters rushed in, dragged her down
and all bar five her folks on board were very quick to drown.
'Just four we found through stingin' squall, once we'd reached Scilly's west,
our own boat close capsizin' on a wave with massive crest,
all ladies an' one shoutin', "I can't leave without my child!" –
then she were swept up in the storm, still callin' through the wild.
'So just three ladies we took back, all shakin' with the cold,
that's why I've got this medal, see, it's made of solid gold;
some lads got silvers – Bill an' Paddy, Jim an' brave Barnard –
we'd rather all those folks weren't drowned, but, well, that sea were hard.'
'What of the fifth folk?' Coo enquired. 'Ayes, birdie,' Chuck replied,
'at first we thought he'd been swept up, dashed on the rocks, an' died.
But nay, he'd caught a piece of driftwood up to stern Rosevear,
and sheltered in a porter's cask 'til boatmen drifted near.
'Of all the souls were lost from Thames, our divers raised just ten,
they're buried on St Mary's – seven women and three men –
an' if ye chance to Tresco Isle, the Abbey Gardens there,
ye'll see the Thames' old figurehead, a chap with curly hair.'
'We'll take him flowers,' vowed the party, 'and a gift for you?'
Old Chuck grinned broadly, and his eyes shone steely shades of blue.
'My gift is this, my golden medal, from those olden times –
I shines it for the boats in trouble, during stormy climes.'
Poetry by Coo & Co
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Written on 2018-07-30 at 19:54
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