UK: Two people rescued from sinking 70-foot yacht off the Isles Of Scilly – Published 20 Nov 2019 1920Z (GMT/UTC)

Two people were dramatically rescued off Cornwall on the morning of 18th November after their sailing vessel began taking on water and started to sink.

Falmouth coastguard received a radio mayday broadcast at 5.18am from the two people on board the 70-feet yacht, reporting that the vessel was 21 nautical miles north of the Isles of Scilly and the on-board electrics and pump had failed due to the incoming water.

It meant that they could not stop the water flow, which continued to increase.

The crew, who were wearing life jackets, launched the life raft, climbed aboard and abandoned the yacht after sending their mayday message.

The coastguard search and rescue helicopter (R924) from Newquay and the St Ives RNLI all-weather lifeboat were sent to the rescue by Falmouth Coastguard. A nearby fishing vessel, Cornishman, had also heard the radio distress message and went to offer help.

The search and rescue helicopter from Newquay arrived at 6.15am and quickly spotted the two men in their life raft. They were winched into the aircraft and airlifted to the helicopter’s base at Newquay for medical checks and welfare support. Thankfully, neither of the two were injured and made same-day plans to get home.

The FV Cornishman collected the now abandoned life raft and advised Falmouth coastguard that the yacht sank.

Jon Wood, maritime operations specialist, Falmouth coastguard, said: “The crew took exactly the right course of action. Their immediate mayday call on VHF channel 16 enabled us to pinpoint their position and get help to them quickly. Wearing life jackets and deploying their life raft increased the likelihood of their survival as the yacht sank beneath them.

“We would like to acknowledge the prompt, professional response of the helicopter and lifeboat as well as the crew of the FV Cornishman in this fast-moving incident.” – MCA

Rescue footage on Youtube (link)

UK: Crew rescued from French fishing vessel, La Fanette, off Lands End – Published 15 Mar 2019 1600z (GMT/UTC)

Six crew from a fishing vessel in distress were airlifted from their disabled vessel off Lands End in atrocious weather conditions over night on 12th March.


HM Coastguard was alerted at around 10pm on Tuesday night to the 24 metre French registered fishing vessel, La Fanette which had suffered engine failure. Another fishing vessel went to assist and HM Coastguard requested the launch of Sennen Cove RNLI lifeboat. Despite atrocious weather, Sennen Cove lifeboat launched but due to 5-6 metre waves on scene and storm force winds, it was impossible for either the fishing vessel or the lifeboat to establish a tow with La Fanette. Penlee RNLI all weather lifeboat also attended.

The six crew on board were airlifted from the fishing vessel by Newquay coastguard rescue helicopter.

Speaking after this morning’s incredible rescue, Captain Sharky Finn from Newquay coastguard helicopter said: ‘This is definitely one of the most challenging jobs we’ve seen at Newquay. We were flying into a force 8 gale with 20ft high waves swirling beneath us and we could clearly see the fishing vessel disappearing beneath the swell as we approached.

‘We had the support of RNLI Sennen Cove on scene who had tried to establish a tow line but were unable to do so because of the severe weather conditions.

‘We tried a variety of different winching positions as the fishing vessel pitched and rolled violently underneath us before lowering a hi-line and then our winchman to the bow. The only way we could do this was turn the helicopter 90 degrees out of winds which meant we were effectively flying sideways. Needless to say, it was very challenging deck; it stretched the capabilities of both the crew and the aircraft. However, despite this pressure we were able to take our time and safely recovered all six crewmates and our winchman to the aircraft before returning to the Newquay base. We’re grateful for the support of the Newquay coastguard rescue team and the Newlyn seaman’s mission who met us when we returned.’

Athough weather conditions are still quite rough due to Storm Gareth the sister vessel ‘Faradet’ has successfully established a tow with the ‘La Fanette’ and it is now safely under tow proceeding to rendezvous with a French tug on route from Brest.

There has been no pollution reported however HM Coastguard will continue to monitor the vessel whilst it’s in UK waters.

Statement from Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station

“Wednesday 13th March
The lifeboat launched just after midnight to assist the French trawler La Fanette, disabled, with 6 persons on board, some 10 miles west-northwest of Sennen Cove.
The lifeboat arrived with the trawler an hour later in severe conditions with a swell peaking near 20ft (roughly a two-storey house) and winds gusting to over 70mph.
Another trawler had attempted to pass a tow without success. After careful consideration the lifeboat crew decided that the risk of incurring damage and / or injuries to the crew in attempting to pass a tow – and subsequently attempting to tow the trawler – was too great, and the lifeboat stood by the vessel.
The rate of drift would have put the trawler ashore in roughly three hours. With this in mind, the vessel`s crew deployed their trawling gear and warps, which dramatically reduced the rate of drift and stabilised the situation.
Having consulted within their organisation at the highest level; also with counter-pollution authorities, the trawler`s owners and insurers, the Coastguard advised that the crew would be evacuated by helicopter.
In what the lifeboat crew described as a brilliant piece of flying, the 6 crewmen were evacuated by the coastguard helicopter – the operation has been widely described elsewhere on facebook and other media.
Penlee lifeboat had also been launched around 0330 to provide further cover to the overall operation, and endured a very poor passage around the Runnelstone and The Longships.
With the trawler`s crew safe, the lifeboats were released roughly around 0500 and both lifeboats proceeded to Newlyn, as conditions were way too poor for recovery at Sennen Cove.
The trawler was left anchored by her fishing gear. She dragged this over a few miles and was eventually taken in tow in slightly improved conditions by her sister trawler later in the afternoon and towed back to France.

Whilst this station traditionally does not seek publicity and is happy just to `get on with it`, working out of one of the most hazardous locations in the country, this event must not be left to pass without heaping huge praise on our crew. The conditions on Wednesday morning were very likely the worst that Sennen Cove Lifeboat has launched into since the `Julian Paul` job in 1994 – and may very well have been more severe than that night.
Wednesday`s crew … Ollie George; Richard Brown; Dan Shannon; Kirstan Gorvin; Jason Woodward; Nick Hichens; Tom Nicholas … did a superb job. Each and every one of you should be hugely proud – you are a great credit both to the Station and the RNLI.”


UK (Cornwall): Holidaymaker dies after sea rescue at Newquay, 2 others in hospital – Published 15 Aug 2017 1455z (GMT/UTC)

A 27-year-old man has died after being rescued from the sea at Newquay last night [15 August 2017].

He was among a group of three males who got into difficulty after being caught in a rip tide and swept out to sea at Crantock Beach.

The HM Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter (Rescue 924) along with two RNLI Lifeboats (@NewquayRNLI ) and the Coastguard Rescue Team from Newquay (@NewquayCRT ), police and ambulance, were sent to the incident around 7.30pm.

The three, who were holidaying in the area, were rescued from the water by two local surfers and then airlifted to Treliske Hospital by the Coastguard helicopter.

The 27-year-old man was pronounced deceased a short time later. His next of kin have been informed. The death is not being treated as suspicious and police will be carrying out enquiries on behalf of the coroner.

The other two swimmers, aged 17 and 18, remain at Treliske Hospital but are not believed to be seriously injured.

Only 5 days ago, there was a mass rescue at Crantock Beach, RNLI lifeguards had to rescue multiple body boarders from a strong current. Two lifeguards were deployed on rescue boards and performed 11 rescues and 15 assists in total. Click here for more details from RNLI


  • Crantock beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards between 10am-6pm until 1 October.
  • Wherever possible, you should swim at a lifeguarded beach. Always read and obey the safety signs, usually found at the entrance to the beach. This will help you avoid potential hazards on the beach and identify the safest areas for swimming.
  • In 2013 there were 738 RNLI lifeguard incidents involving body boarders. Between 2006 and 2011 53% of people rescued from rip currents at RNLI lifeguarded beaches were bodyboarding.

Rip current advice issued after tourist swept out to sea dies (link to video)



UK: Overdue diver found by Newquay Coastguard helicopter after search op in Cornwall – Published 09 Aug 2017 1525z (GMT/UTC)

An overdue diver has been located safe and well by the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay after a large search operation was launched earlier today.

R924 cropped

Rescue 924 (based at Newquay) on another tasking.

Just after 1pm today (9 August) UK Coastguard received a VHF Radio broadcast on Channel 16 – the VHF distress frequency – from the diving vessel reporting that the diver was 15 minutes overdue.

The diver, who was with a group of seven other divers, was last seen 1nm north of Mannacles, Cornwall.

An extensive search and rescue operation was launched involving Porthoustock and Mullion Coastguard Rescue Teams, Falmouth and Lizard  RNLI Lifeboats and the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay.  Devon and Cornwall Police were also informed.

The missing diver was located safe and well by the Coastguard helicopter just after 2pm on the shoreline.  Despite being exhausted, he required no medical treatment and has been airlifted to Porthoustock.

Lee Duncan,  Duty Controller for the UK Coastguard said:  ‘We commend the actions of the crew of the diving vessel who called us when the diver was overdue.  The diving vessel had all the right equipment on board including a VHF Radio in case anything went wrong – which is what they used in this case to raise the alarm with us.  Thankfully, the UK Coastguard helicopter was able to locate the missing diver on the shoreline and take his safety.  It was very clear that the dive vessel had a plan in place if anything should go wrong and they did exactly the right thing to contact the Coastguard quickly so we could task our Coastguard, the RNLI Lifeboats and our Coastguard helicopter to assist.

‘Remember if you’re planning on diving in the sea, make sure you are adequately qualified and experienced for the dive that you plan to undertake, keeping a close eye on weather and sea conditions, and making your own fitness a top priority for safe diving.

‘Familiarise yourself with new or different gear before planning deep dives and to always dive within your limits. In an emergency contact the Coastguard immediately.’ – Hm Coastguard

UK: RNLI lifeguards at Polzeath rescued 32 people last night after they extended their patrol hours – Published 120814 1752z (GMT/UTC)

Lifeguards carry out rescues at Polzeath

RNLI Lifeguards carry out rescues at Polzeath (Credit: RNLI)

RNLI lifeguards at Polzeath rescued 32 people last night after they extended their patrol hours.

With a large number of people in the water and difficult conditions on the high spring tide, the lifeguard team stayed on past their normal finishing time of 6pm to ensure everybody was safe.

The lifeguard team, made up of Ben Miskowicz, Chris Rowlands, Phil Bartlett, Scott Temple, Christian Parker and Craig O’Rourke, were patrolling the beach yesterday (Monday 11 August) and when 6pm approached they realised the conditions were too dangerous to finish their lifeguard duties.

The team stayed on and rescued a total of 32 people, including seven swimmers and 25 bodyboarders, many of them children. They eventually packed down the beach at 7.30pm, an hour and a half after their normal operational finishing time.

Senior lifeguard Ben Miskowicz explains: ‘The conditions at Polzeath this week are particularly challenging, we have a high tide, strong onshore winds and large swell. The winter storms have changed the typography of Polzeath and now at high tide we have some rip currents at both the northern and southern end of the beach. The northern rip is particularly prominent at high tide at the moment and between 6pm and 7.15pm last night the lifeguards assisted 32 people who’d fallen off the bank of sand and straight into the path of the rip current.

‘I was at the cliff top unit at the south end of the beach and Chris was at the northern end while Craig, Phil and Christian were in the water on rescue boards. As we had a higher view we were able to spot casualties and guide the lifeguards in the water to them. I could see how strong the rip was, when the lifeguards stopped paddling on the rescue board they were pulled away very quickly, it was incredibly strong.’

Today is the highest tide of the year, with high tide at Polzeath at 7.15pm, so lifeguards are urging people to take extra care in the conditions.

Chris Wafer, RNLI lifeguard supervisor, said: ‘The lifeguard team did a fantastic job last night in challenging conditions and received praise from many members of the public for their efforts in keeping people safe.

‘We’ve seen strong onshore winds and a big swell combined with spring tides in recent days which have created these difficult conditions. With another large tide tonight it’s possible the lifeguard team may stay on later again to ensure everybody is safe. If you are heading to the beach please speak to the lifeguards to find out the hazards and take heed of their advice.’

To help keep children safe in the sea this summer, the RNLI has partnered with the ASA to offer Swim Safe. Providing free open-water swimming improver lessons to children aged between 7-14, the programme is running at Bude throughout the summer. For more information go to


  • Date:
  • Author: Emma Haines

The RNLI added in a Facebook post:

“32 people were rescued at Polzeath beach in Cornwall last night – after lifeguards extended their patrol hours. With their 6pm finish time approaching, and a large number of people still in the water and a high spring tide, the team realised the conditions were too dangerous for them to leave their post. When people began to get caught in the path of a rip current, the lifeguards were able to leap into action. This week sees some of the highest tides of the year, so if you’re visiting the coast, remember to ‪#‎RespectTheWater‬ and visit a lifeguarded beach where possible. ”

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI – public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland


UK: 3 launches in 3 days for Lizard lifeboat – 191113 1605z

Falmouth Packet

The Lizard lifeboat has launched three times in as many days to assist yachts in difficulties off Lizard Point.

On Tuesday, November 12 at 8:30am The Lizard lifeboat was launched to a lone sailor onboard Yacht Quintess 2 on passage from Brixham to Ireland that required assistance after the yachts sails were blown out and the vessels engine stopped working.

The yachts occupant had broadcast a Mayday call the night before but was unable to broadcast his position before all the electrics failed. The yacht was left bobbing around overnight before being located by a fishing vessel three miles south west of Lizard Point.

Falmouth Coastguard was contacted and The Lizard lifeboat was launched to rescue the yacht. The yacht was then towed to Falmouth Harbour. The Lifeboat returned to station at 1:00pm.

(Video credit: RNLI) A yacht that had damaged its rigging and had problems with its engine was helped by The Lizard lifeboat. The yacht, with one person on board, was towed safely back to Falmouth.

At 5:30pm the same evening The Lizard lifeboat was again launched to assist a lone yachtsman onboard the Yacht Apsu, 20 miles southeast of Lizard Point that had suffered damaged rigging after being hit by a large wave.

The vessel was returning to the Helford River from Spain and its engine then failed and again the yacht was left bobbing around. Falmouth Coastguard requested The Lizard lifeboat launch and assist the vessel. The yacht was towed to Falmouth Harbour. The lifeboat returned to station at just after midnight.

On Thursday evening at 4:50pm The Lizard lifeboat was launched to assist in a search for a person thought to have fallen over the cliff at Old Lizard Head. The Coastguard rescue teams from Mullion and Porthoustock and a rescue helicopter from 771 Squadron RNAS Culdrose were also involved in the search. It very soon became apparent that the call was a false alarm and all the rescue units were stood down with the lifeboat returning to station at 6:15pm.” – Falmouth Packet

The Lizard lifeboat alongside Yacht Apsu. Credit Andrew Putt.



RNLI | Goaty’s News

UK: Police investigate dead bottle nosed #dolphin hit by a boat in #Padstow. Witnesses, photos & videos sought – 220713 2300z

Bottlenose Dolphin (Photo: NASA)

Specialist Wildlife crime trained police officers are currently investigating reports of a dead bottle nosed dolphin which was seen in the Camel Estuary, Padstow on Saturday 20 July 2013.

It is believed several boats were in the area at the time and one of the dolphins was hit by a boat and killed.

The juvenile dolphin was found dead at around 4.45pm on Saturday at The Rumps, north east of Pentire Point, which is between Polzeath and Port Quin. Police are keen to speak to any witnesses who saw a number of boats circling around the dolphins on Saturday afternoon. In particular they would like any photographs or videos of the boats, which were part of the flotilla of up to 25 boats, between 1.30pm and around 5pm on Saturday. PC Del Allerton-Baldwin, Wildlife Crime Officer on the Marine and Coastal Policing Team in Bodmin, said:

“We would like to get a list of all boats that were in the area at the time. They should all have names on them. “Many of the boat users were in fact behaving responsibly around the dolphins and keeping a distance of around 100 yards. However a few appear to have been harassing them. If you were part of the flotilla, it does not mean you were committing an offence but we would like to speak to you and eliminate you from our enquiries. You may also have vital information which may assist with the investigation.” Anyone with information, photographs or video clips is asked to call police on 101 quoting 399 of 21/07/13.

UK: The Queen and Prince Philip meet members of St.Ives’ lifeboat crew – 170513 1935z

A visit by Her Majesty The Queen to the RNLI lifeboat station at St Ives today (Friday 17 May 2013) also marked the official start of a special appeal by the charity.

Crowd eagerly await the royal visitors at St Ives Lifeboat station

(Video credit: Derek Hall)
Published on 17 May 2013
Kernow Pipes & Drums at St Ives lifeboat playing for everyone before the Queen & Duke if Edinburgh arrived
The Queen
The Queen meets members of St.Ives’ lifeboat crew. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
HM The Queen was accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and together the royal couple visited to meet the local RNLI team who uphold the charitys tradition of saving lives at sea.

(Photo: HM The Queen shakes hands with St Ives Lifeboat crew

The occasion coincided with the start of an appeal to raise funds towards the £1million cost of the launch and recovery vehicle for the new Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat that its hoped will arrive in the town in late 2014.

(Photo: HM The Queen chats with St Ives Lifeboat crew

At todays visit the royal couple met the volunteer team who run the lifeboat station and their families and viewed the current lifeboats, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat The Princess Royal and the D class inshore lifeboat Colin Bramley Parker.
They also met the volunteers who run the charitys shop before unveiling a plaque to mark the visit.
Derek Hall is the volunteer RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager at St Ives; Were extremely honoured to have welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to our lifeboat station, especially as she is the RNLIs Patron, and to be able to introduce her to the many volunteers who maintain the charitys lifesaving tradition around the coast of St Ives. Its a truly wonderful way of thanking the families of our volunteers too for their support and commitment.
Here at St Ives we are also launching a special appeal ahead of the arrival in late 2014 of a new 25-knot Shannon class all-weather lifeboat for St Ives to replace our current Mersey class lifeboat.

Shannon the next generation of RNLI lifeboat

We need to raise funds towards the £1million needed to fund the new lifeboats purpose built launch and recovery vehicle and this project begins in earnest right now as we head in to the 2013 summer season at St Ives.

(Photo: RNLI St. Ives) The beams on visit to St. Ives Lifeboat Station

Paul Whiston is the volunteer RNLI Coxswain at St Ives:

To me its very fitting that our present Mersey class all-weather lifeboat is The Princess Royal and today we presented Her Majesty The Queen with a framed picture of the lifeboat in action at sea. This lifeboat has already given us 22 years of service and we are very proud of her. However, the new Shannon class will offer improved speed and manoeuvrability thanks to updated design techniques and water jet propulsion. We just need to help raise the funds needed now for the launch and recovery vehicle.

The Queen glimpsed on her departure

(Video credit: Claudelg5)

A shout the day before the royal visit – Fishing boat with damaged steering helped by St Ives lifeboat

(Video credit: officialrnli)

Published on 17 May 2013
The St Ives RNLI lifeboat The Princess Royal was launched for the second time in three days following a call to the Coastguard from a local 32 foot fishing vessel with steering gear failure approximately five miles north of The Stones The lifeboat was launched at 8:54 am with Coxswain Paul Whiston at the helm. The volunteer lifeboat crew reached the vessel Silvery Sea at 9:30, and took her under tow back to St Ives, arriving at St Ives at 10:30

After putting the fishing boat alongside Smeaton’s Pier, the lifeboat was moored in the harbour and crew taken back to shore by local pleasure boat Dolly P who was about to take a group of visitors out for a pleasure trip. the lifeboat was then recovered at 12:30 before cleaning began in earnest ready for tomorrow’s visit to the lifeboat station by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.


RNLI reveals new stations earmarked for charity’s most advanced £2m lifeboat 1504131830z

RNLI items on Goaty’s News

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI – public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0845 122 6999 or by email.

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland

UK: Thousands enjoy mock medieval battle at Lostfest, Cornwall – 140513 2335z

(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

Not even a day of rain managed to dissuade more than 3,000 people from attending a popular arts festival in Cornwall on Sunday which included a Medieval battle re-enactment for the first time.


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

The seventh edition of Lostfest, which took place in Lostwithiel, also featured more than 200 bands, arts and craft stalls and was timed to coincide with the first reopening of the Duchy Palace since its 15-month refurbishment was complete in January.


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

But the highlight for organisers was the inclusion for the first time of a Medieval battle by reenactment group Kernow Levy, which took place throughout the town.


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

The group set up camp in the church yard and were present throughout the day, culminating in the battle, which was won by the army from Lostwithiel. Mike Dobbie, who is part of the festival’s organising committee said: “I would say the Medieval battle was the highlight.


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

“It went down really, really well and it proved really popular.

“People were following them around the town, they set up in the church and put on a fantastic display.


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

“But the whole festival was just great, it’s a bit of a mix, something for everyone. I would say there was something between 3,000 and 5,000 people and the Duchy Palace had something in the region of 1,000 visitors throughout the day.”


(Photo: Kernow Levy Medieval Battle Reenactment At Lost Fest 2013

The Duchy Palace is said to be one of the oldest non-ecclesiastical buildings in Cornwall, and was bought by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust in 2009.

About Kernow Levy

Kernow Levy is a Medieval re-enactment group, based in Cornwall, focusing primarily on the period between the years 900 to 1500.

They are a group of people who are interested in understanding history through the re-enactment of it.
They have a lot of fun not only fighting at shows all over the country with authentic weapons, but making and wearing authentic clothing, discovering what it was really like to live the lives of medieval Knights to Viking peasants.
Membership comes from all over Cornwall and Devon. “Basically we are a friendly bunch of people who love to dress up!

We are always looking for new members and some basic kit can be made available to borrow for first timers.”

To find out more go to:

A flavour….

Kernow Levy – Skirmish 2, 23rd July 2011

(Video credit:incognitoworks)

UK: Cliff rescue after 3 fell from cliffs at Newquay, Cornwall – 080513 1555z

During the evening of 7 May a large party of international young people, mainly Austrian, Swiss, German and English, mostly aged in their early twenties attended the Lowenick restaurant on Pentire, Newquay for a farewell dinner.

The group had been travelling all week engaging in activities promoting international relations. The group are currently staying in the Penzance area. Three young men from the party decided to go climbing on the cliffs near to Pentire Headland. Two of the group of three fell from the cliffs approximately 5 metres into the sea.
The two men were located on rocks at the base of the cliffs on the North side of Pentire Head near to Pentire Point. One man, a 22 year old Swiss man sustained a fractured pelvis after hitting rocks as he fell.
He was airlifted by Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from the scene and taken to Treliske hospital, Truro where he remains. The uninjured man was rescued by the lifeboat and taken to Newquay harbour.
. Staff from both Newquay and Padstow Coastguard attended the incident along with a Sea King Helicopter from RNAS Culdrose and two Newquay lifeboats.
Inspector Dave Meredith commented:

“With the summer season fast approaching, this incident is a timely reminder of the dangers of the areas around cliffs. The two persons who fell into the sea were not suitably dressed or equipped to go near or on such dangerous cliffs.
Light was fading and other members of this large group were also put in danger by their efforts to locate the two missing men.
It is fortunate that we are not today dealing with a fatal Newquay cliff fall.”

Newquay cliff fall scene May 7, 2013

(Video credit: Stephen Creswell)

UK: Disabled ex-serviceman Albert Edwards on charity walk disappears from campsite – 020513 1550z

Have you seen this man?

Last seen in the Skinningrove area on Monday 22nd April after telling local residents that he was doing a charity walk from Lands End to John O’Groats.

(Photo: Disabled ex-serviceman Albert Edwards, missing charity walker

A member of the public reported their concern for the man’s welfare on the day that he was last seen. The man had spent ten days camping in the area.


He had told local people he was an ex-serviceman called Albert Edwards and that he was 61 years old.


The man was last seen at around 9am, saying he would be back by 11am, however, he did not return and he left his camping equipment and other possessions behind.


The man is described as a white male, 5′ 7″ of an extremely stocky build. He is in his early 60’s with a shaven head, a grey moustache and goatee beard but no sideburns. He has a v shaped scar on the bridge of his nose and may be wearing glasses.


He was wearing a grey jogging tracksuit with a checked blue fleece with a red stripe through it and walking boots. He had a walking stick and walks with a pronounced limp. He has a prosthetic left leg from the knee down. He has what is described as a Cornish accent with an Irish tint.


Police would like to speak to anyone who may have spoken to the man recently or anyone who may know his identity. Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Sarah Martin at Redcar and Cleveland Police on the non-emergency 101 number.

Other Reports

Disabled camper Albert Edwards disappears from Skinningrove


A disabled ex-serviceman on a charity walk has gone missing while camping on Teesside, police said.

Albert Edwards, who has a prosthetic leg, was last seen leaving his tent in Skinningrove on Monday.

The 61-year-old had been in the area for 10 days and told locals he was an ex-serviceman travelling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Cleveland Police said a member of the public had reported him missing after finding his tent and other camping kit.

Police said he has a shaved head, a grey moustache and a goatee beard.

Cornish accent

He also has a V-shaped scar on the bridge of his nose and may be wearing glasses.

Mr Edwards was last seen at about 09:00 BST on Monday and has left his camping equipment in the village.

The man is said to have a Cornish accent and to have walked with a stick.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Police have already carried out house to house and other enquiries in the area but they urge anyone who has seen this man or who knows his whereabouts to get in touch.

“It has been confirmed that he has a prosthetic left leg from the knee down.”


UK: Missing teenager Caitlin Andrew is found safe and well – 160413 1205z


The family of a missing 14-year-old girl from Weston are continuing to appeal for information about her whereabouts. – See below FOUND

Caitlin Andrew was last seen at her home address in Pembroke Close, Bournville at 7.30am on Sunday.

Her family are continuing to appeal for information via a Facebook page Help Find Caitlin Andrew.

The page has received more than 5,000 Likes since being set up yesterday.

An Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesperson said: We are continuing to conduct enquiries to identify a missing 14-year-old girl from Weston-super-Mare. Anyone who has seen her since she went missing should contact police on 101.

Caitlin, who is 5ft 1ins tall and has long dyed black hair, was last seen wearing grey jogging bottoms.

Her mother said she has not taken her phone, purse, handbag or clothes. She is believed to have been alone.

Her family says she could be anywhere in the Cornwall, Devon, Bristol or Exeter areas.

Members of Caitlins family have posted messages on the Facebook page: Still no news unfortunately everyone. Still concentrating on the Exeter and surrounding areas so please keep an eye out let hope today is the day again many thanks for your support but please help myself and Claire Andrew keep our inboxes for information only many many thank with your continued support xxxxxx.

A message posted yesterday read: Caitlin,Please Come Home,You Are Not In Any Trouble,Everyone Is Worried SickPlease Contact Someone Just To Let Them Know You Are Ok xxxx.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the police on 101.

Update 17 April 2013:

“A 14-year-old girl who went missing from Weston earlier this week – prompting an appeal for people in the Burnham area to look out for her – has been found safe and well.

Caitlin Andrew had not been seen at her home address in Bournville, Weston since early on Sunday, leaving her family worried about her welfare.

But she was found safe and well on Tuesday, police said.

A member of her family posted on Facebook: “Just like to say Caitlin is back with her family now. Thank you so much for your support. Our families cannot thanks you enough for your support time and effort for bring her home.” “-

UK: Police continue hunt for Meryl Cameron, missing from her home in Canonstown near Hayle in Cornwall – 120413 1640z

Missing person from Hayle.

Associated Image
Police are continuing to search for Meryl Cameron, missing from her home in Canonstown near Hayle.


She has not been seen for nearly two weeks and her car, a distinctive white soft top Renault Megan, registration number WK62 YMC, was found at Hells Mouth on the B3301 on the morning of Saturday 30th March.
Police are trying to establish her movements particularly from Thursday 28th March through Good Friday and are keen to speak to anyone who saw her or her vehicle during this time period.


Meryls family have commented:


We are getting increasingly concerned about Meryl and we are desperate to find out where she is. We are extremely grateful to everyone that has helped in this enquiry but we need any information anybody can provide. This is so out of character for Meryl. She is a calm and collected person who is full of life and fun. Meryl has lots of friends who are all worried about her. Please help the Police if you have any information even if it is only the smallest snippet.

A Police spokesman said:

We are still continuing to search for Meryl, and we will be extending our search areas from Hells Mouth through to her home address at Canonstown where she was last seen.
Anyone with information about Meryls whereabouts or movements are asked to contact police on 101 quoting police reference number AI/13/19.

UK: Coastguard warns of spring tide danger after at least 15 trapped. Rescues by lifeboat and helicopter – 010413 2230z

The rescue operation at Zacry’s Island, Newquay, on Saturday evening. Credit: Newquay RNLI

Nine people, including a three-year-old boy, were rescued by a lifeboat crew after becoming trapped on an island.

Queensferry RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew were called out Sunday after the group became trapped by the incoming tide at Cramond Island.

The Queensferry was launched at 3.20pm and arrived at Cramond Island six minutes later.

RNLI crew members took the group board the lifeboat and landed safely at Cramond harbour. No one was injured.

A RNLI spokesman said: “If anyone finds themselves trapped on Cramond Island by the incoming tide, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.

“The coastguard will alert the lifeboat. Never attempt to wade or swim ashore. We advise to check the tide tables for safe crossing times before attempting to cross to Cramond Island.”“-


Falmouth Coastguard is warning people to beware of fast, incoming tides after six people were trapped in two incidents in Cornwall on Saturday night (30 March).
Falmouth Coastguard has issued this statement:
We have spring tides at the moment that come in faster and further than usual. For this reason people out and about enjoying the Cornish coastline need to be especially careful to plan their trip.    Always check the weather and tide timetable before you set out on your walk and wear appropriate clothing for the unseasonably cold weather. If you do get cut off call 999 Coastguard.– Coastguard Watch Officer Richard Williams

BBC Weather : Tide Tables

Tide Times (from


Dramatic video of Port Isaac RNLI lifeboat rescuing a man in rough seas – 040113 1305z

The video shows the Port Isaac lifeboat volunteers racing through rough seas to find an angler who had fallen off rocks near Tintagel Head. The video was shot by Matt Main using an RNLI helmet camera and finishes abruptly because it was damaged during the recovery of the man into the D class inshore lifeboat.

The fisherman, who was washed off rocks near Tintagel Head, was rescued on Monday 31 December by the volunteer crew of the Port Isaac RNLI inshore lifeboat. Its believed the man had been in the water for up to an hour before he was found. With the helicopter continuing to search for other possible casualties, the lifeboat crew decided to head for the nearest harbour Boscastle where the fisherman was met by paramedics and then transported on to hospital by land ambulance.

It was late afternoon when the three RNLI volunteers launched onboard the D class inshore lifeboat Copeland Bell following reports that a fisherman had been washed off rocks and in to the sea. In a big sea and a large swell Andy Cameron (Helm), Nicky Bradbury and Matt Main managed to find the man and get him into the lifeboat. At this point it was getting dark.

Entering the harbour in challenging conditions and fading light took all the skill and training of volunteer Helmsman Andy Cameron.

Christopher Key, Boscastle Harbour Master, oversaw the arrival of the lifeboat. In a letter to Bob Bulgin, Chairman of the Port Isaac RNLI lifeboat station, he wrote:

The weather conditions between Tintagel at Boscastle were appalling with high winds and a heavy ground sea running at about eight to ten feet swell size and large sets of waves I would estimate as much as fourteen feet, which were breaking across the harbour mouth. With the tide flooding the ground sea was particularly aggressive.

I have no doubt that the decision to enter Boscastle Harbour with the light fading and nearly gone was extremely difficult and in my opinion the courage and ability demonstrated by the crew, not only in the initial rescue but also in safely navigating the entrance to Boscastle Harbour through heavy surf with rocks littered all around, was of the highest calibre. I know that the crew selflessly put their own lives at very great risk last night. On behalf of my (Boscastle Harbour) association we appreciate their outstanding conduct.

The lifeboat sustained some damage during the rescue and with conditions building it was decided to leave it in Boscastle overnight. The lifeboat was repaired and back on service the following day.

Phil Tidy is the RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Port Isaac:

The crew did extremely well to find and rescue the man and thats the best news for all of us. This rescue, happening late in the afternoon on New Years Eve, highlights the extraordinary commitment of the RNLIs volunteer crew who are willing to drop everything to help save a life at sea. To know we helped someone in trouble was a good way to see in the New Year.

Helmsman Andy Cameron said: We dont know the name of the gentleman we helped, but he is in our thoughts and we hope he is making a swift and full recovery.

Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team 2012 Round Up – 020113 1800z

Copied from Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team – “Semper Paratus” WordPress blog

2012 proved another busy year for Falmouth CRT, with some challenging jobs and some real highs and lows.

To date, we have attended 84 incidents totalling 779.5 (team) hours, and assisted 122 persons, sadly 3 of these were confirmed fatalities and 3 dogs also one of which could not be saved.

Our longest job totalled 162 (team) hours, plus additional hours from other resources, that averages 11.6 hours per team member!

That said, we wouldnt have been able to do any of the above if it wasnt for the training put in from the team, for 2012 totalling 670 (team) hours. Ranging from voluntary two hour sessions on a Monday evening, to full day / weekend slots.

Aside from shouts and training, we also carry out voluntary local area patrols, public events, also voluntary and visits to local youth groups, such as cubs and scouts. This year we have totalled 129.75 hours in these tasks reaching out to the wider community over our seemingly successful social media communications.

Total team hours this year are a staggering 1579.25 with other tasks such as checks / maintenance of equipment not added on top of this, its been a busy old year!

This year also welcomes our new Sector Manager, Marc Thomas, and two new team members, Paul and Isaac. and we say goodbye to our departing Sector Manager Martin Leslie, who has moved on to bigger and better things at HQ a big good luck to him and a big thanks for all of the help and support he has given us!

So, thanks to all our followers and have a happy new year. Heres to a safe 2013!

End of Year 2012 (1)


Penlee Lifeboat Disaster – 19 December 1981

Penlee Lifeboat Station
(Click phot for source)

Penlee Lifeboat Disaster


The Penlee lifeboat disaster occurred on 19 December 1981 off the coast of Cornwall, in England, UK. The Penlee Lifeboat went to the aid of the coaster Union Star after its engines failed in heavy seas. After the lifeboat had managed to rescue four people both vessels were lost with all hands; sixteen people died including eight volunteer lifeboatmen.

MV Union Star

The MV Union Star was launched in Ringkobing in Denmark just a few days before it was wrecked on the Cornish coast. A mini-bulk carrier registered in Dublin, Ireland, it sailed to IJmuiden in the Netherlands to collect a cargo of fertiliser for its maiden voyage to Arklow in Ireland.[1]

It carried a crew of five: Captain Henry Morton;[2] Mate James Whittaker, Engineer George Sedgwick, Crewman Anghostino Verressimo, and Crewman Manuel Lopes.[3] Also on board was the captain’s family who had been picked up at an unauthorized stop on the east coast of England:[2] his wife Dawn and teenage stepdaughters Sharon and Deanne.[3]

Near the south coast of Cornwall, 8 miles (13 km) east of the Wolf Rock, the new ship’s engines failed.[1] She was unable to restart them but did not make a mayday call.[2] Assistance was offered by a tug, the Noord Holland, under the Lloyd’s Open Form salvage contract but Morton initially refused the offer, later accepting after consulting his owners.[4]

Winds were gusting at up to 90 knots (100 mph; 170 km/h) – hurricane force 12 on the Beaufort scale – with waves up to 60 feet (18 m) high.[5] The powerless ship was blown across Mount’s Bay towards the rocks of Boscawen Cove, near Lamorna.

RNAS Sea King helicopter

In light of the closeness of the ship to the beach, the Coastguard at Falmouth summoned a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter from 771 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose. It used call sign “Rescue 80” during the mission.

The aircraft (airframe XZ574) was flown that night by United States Navy exchange-pilot Lt Cdr Russell Smith, assisted by Lt Steve Marlow, S/Lt Kenneth Doherty and Lacmn Martin Kennie of the Royal Navy.[6] However, due to the extreme wave conditions, they were unable to winch anyone off the ship.[2][7]

RNLB Solomon Browne

The Coastguard had difficulties contacting the secretary of the nearest lifeboat, Penlee Lifeboat Station at Mousehole on the west side of the bay. They eventually contacted Coxswain Trevelyan Richards and asked him to put the lifeboat on standby in case the helicopter rescue failed. He summoned the lifeboat’s volunteer crew and picked seven men to accompany him in the lifeboat.[2] They were: Second Coxswain/Mechanic Stephen Madron, Assistant Mechanic Nigel Brockman, Emergency Mechanic John Blewett, crewmembers Charlie Greenhaugh, Kevin Smith, Barrie Torrie and Gary Wallis.[8] Neil Brockman, the son of Nigel Brockman, got to the lifeboat station on time, but was turned down for the trip by Trevelyan Richards, who was reluctant to take out two members of the same family that night.[8]

The lifeboat launched at 8:12 pm and headed out through the storm to the drifting coaster.[1] The lifeboat was the Solomon Browne, a wooden 47-foot (14 m) Watson Class boat built in 1960[9] and capable of 9 knots (17 km/h).[2] After it had made several attempts to get alongside, four people managed to jump across;[7] the captain’s family and one of the men were apparently safe. The lifeboat radioed that ‘we’ve got four off’, but that was the last ever heard from anyone on either vessel.[2]

Lt Cdr Smith USN, the pilot of the rescue helicopter later reported that:[10]

“ The greatest act of courage that I have ever seen, and am ever likely to see, was the penultimate courage and dedication shown by the Penlee [crew] when it manoeuvred back alongside the casualty in over 60 ft breakers and rescuing four people shortly after the Penlee had been bashed on top of the casualty’s hatch covers. They were truly the bravest eight men I’ve ever seen who were also totally dedicated to upholding the highest standards of the RNLI ”

Lifeboats were summoned from Sennen Cove, The Lizard and St Mary’s to try to help their colleagues from Penlee. The Sennen Cove Lifeboat found it impossible to make headway round Land’s End. The Lizard Lifeboat found a serious hole in its hull when it finally returned to its slipway after a fruitless search. Wreckage from the Solomon Browne was found along the shore, and the Union Star lay capsized onto the rocks west of Tater Du Lighthouse. Some, but not all, of the 16 bodies were eventually recovered.[2]

The inquiry into the disaster determined that the loss of the Union Star and its crew was because of:[2]

  1. the irreparable failure of the ship’s engines due to contamination of fuel by sea water while off a dangerous lee shore;
  2. the extreme severity of the weather, wind and sea; and
  3. the capsize of the vessel on or shortly after stranding.

The loss of the Solomon Browne was:

in consequence of the persistent and heroic endeavours by the coxswain and his crew to save the lives of all from the Union Star. Such heroism enhances the highest traditions of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in whose service they gave their lives.


The memorial at Penlee

Coxswain Trevelyan Richards was posthumously awarded the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s gold medal, while the remainder of the crew were all posthumously awarded bronze medals. The station itself was awarded a gold medal service plaque.[10] The disaster prompted a massive public appeal for the benefit of the village of Mousehole which raised over £3 million (£8.57 million as of 2012),[11] although there was an outcry when the government tried to tax the donations.[2]

Two nights before the disaster, Charlie Greenhaugh had turned on the Christmas lights in Mousehole. After the storm the lights were left off but three days later his widow, Mary, asked for them to be repaired and lit again.[2] The village has been lit up each December since then, but on the anniversary of the disaster they are turned off at 8:00 pm for an hour as an act of remembrance.[7]

Within a day of the disaster enough people from Mousehole had volunteered to form a new lifeboat crew.[2] In 1983 a new lifeboat station (still known as ‘Penlee’) was opened nearby at Newlyn where a faster, larger boat could be kept moored afloat in the harbour. Neil Brockman later became the coxswain of the station’s Severn class lifeboat.[8] The old boathouse at Penlee Point with its slipway is empty but has been maintained and a memorial garden was created beside it in 1985 to commemorate the crew of the Solomon Browne.[11]

Airframe XZ574 is today preserved at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton, mainly due to its being flown during the Falklands War conflict by Prince Andrew, Duke of York.[6]

The disaster has been the subject of several songs. Seth Lakeman, an English folk singer, songwriter, and musician wrote a song called “Solomon Browne” about the Penlee lifeboat disaster.[7] This appears on his 2008 album ‘Poor Man’s Heaven’. The CD reissue of the Anthony Phillips‘ album Invisible Men includes “The Ballad of Penlee” about the incident. Paul Sirman, a Kentish folk artist who specialises in songs of the sea recorded the incident in his song “Solomon Browne” which appears on his album “One For All”. Kimber’s Men, a sea shanty group, recorded “Don’t Take The Heroes” on their CD of the same name. The song was written by Neil Kimber and Rodger Hepworth.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mitchell, Peter (2007-07-04). “The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster”. Submerged. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kipling, Ray; Kipling, Susannah (2006). Never Turn Back. Stroud: Sutton Publishing. pp. 49–57. ISBN 0-7509-4307-6.
  3. ^ a b Sagar-Fenton, Michael (1991). Penlee: The Loss of a Lifeboat. St Teath: Bossiney Books. p. 8. ISBN 0-948158-72-7.
  4. ^ Sagar-Fenton, Michael (1991). pp. 12–16, 25.
  5. ^ “Lifeboat crew missing after mission”. On this day (BBC date = 1981-12-20). 20 December 1981. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  6. ^ a b Discussion on Aviation Forum
  7. ^ a b c d “Solomon Browne history”. BBC. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  8. ^ a b c “History”. Penlee Lifeboat Station. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
  9. ^ Denton, Tony (2009). Handbook 2009. Shrewsbury: Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society. pp. 24–25.
  10. ^ a b Leach, Nicholas (2006) [2000]. Cornwall’s Lifeboat Heritage. Chacewater: Twelveheads Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 0-906294-43-6.
  11. ^ a b “Penlee History”. RNLI. Retrieved 2010-12-03.

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Penlee Lifeboat Station

Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team - "Semper Paratus"

A very poignant memorial. When this disaster happened today 1981

They will always be remember and never forgot.

View original post

Smuggling and North Devon – 151212 2045z

Smuggling and North Devon

At the start of the eighteenth century Bideford was a booming and nationally eminent port. The trade with the colonies, Western Europe and more locally with South Wales and Ireland was thriving. However, as we may expect, there was a black underside to the Little White Town’ and the Golden Bay ‘ it superintended. There were those opportunists who exploited this and sought to maximise their own profits through evading customs duties: Smuggling.

On top of the usual problems of loosing evidence and records over several centuries as an illicit activity there is obviously not a plethora of factual evidence to provide neat and tidy stories and answers to the multitude of questions which smuggling triggers.- What was the extent and what was smuggled? What were their methods? Who were the smugglers and what was their nature: opportunists, self justified free traders or violent criminals?

As such it means that the start of investigations begins with preventative laws, seizures of smuggled goods (so failed attempts) or with the local romanticised legends or folk stories that the south west coast is famous for accompanying those of piracy and wrecking.

This further raises the fact that smugglers have long been prone to the Robin Hood effect’; seen as the only honest thief. rob[bing] nothing but the revenue(Lamb p.698). These images have often veiled the reality of smuggling to later generations but also provided both shields and justification to contemporaries. This defence was especially strong when import taxes were imposed by a faceless government in order to raise revenue for a series of unpopular wars. This in turn makes attempting to assess the true volume of smuggling and the number direct and indirect (those who bought the prohibited goods or aided the smugglers) participants practically impossible. Were we a nation of smugglers? (Gaydon p.65)

Thomas Benson

The most famous of the Bideford based smugglers. Despite his story displaying him as being selfish and ruthless his infamy stands as testament to how subsequent generations have regarded his daring and sheer audacity against the British government. Ironically it was the governmental laws and systems of patronage enabled his career as a merchant- privateer, which in turn facilitated his felonies. He was eventually exposed and his tale highlights key points and themes in smuggling and how his Bideford setting enabled it. [Link to longer Benson article]

Thomas Benson inherited the large family fortune, estate (Knapp House, Northam) and business valued at an estimated 40 000 in 1743 aged 36. From this juncture his ambitious and daring personality led him to increase his wealth and influence to become Sheriff of Devon in 1746 and MP for Barnstaple in 1747, the same year he began a lease of Lundy.

The position of Lundy, made it ideal for his purposes, 13 miles of Hartland point, it was away from prying eyes, whilst still being conveniently located for the local and international trade that used the Bristol Channel . Benson unloaded many of the convicts he was supposed to be transporting to America on Lundy. At this point he then used them to hide his other smuggled goods, largely tobacco from the colonies.

His eventual downfall came after he scuttled’ an old, barely seaworthy boat the Nightingale in order to gain the insurance for both the boat and the contents he had supposedly lost. In fact he had unloaded these on Lundy the day previously. Benson and his crew thought they had pulled off the ingenious scam, but instead they met their downfall after the inebriated boasting of one of the crew James Bather to one of Benson’s rivals Matthew Reeder.

This was the catalyst which served to expose a whole plethora of Benson’s crimes over the preceding two years, which included smuggling 99 000lb of British Colonial tobacco and a debt to the Crown of 8229. When Benson realised that he could not evade punishment he used his mercantile contacts and fled to Oporto in Portugal , then Viga in Spain where he comfortably lived out his life.

Of the others involved, only a few served gaol time and it was only Lancey received a sentence. This may seem more surprising given the number of witnesses bought into Lancey’s trial who were not part of the Nightingale Crew but who worked for Benson and give themselves away as being aware of what Benson was up to on Lundy. This may have been affected by the 1746 Indemnity Act which pardoned those who gave information which led to the capture of other smugglers. Further given the scandal caused- a corrupt Mp and County Sherrif acting in total disregard to the law it could well be that Lancey’s harsh punishment was indeed to be an example of him.

The Heyday of Smuggling

Who were the smugglers up against?

As we can see from Benson’s case smuggling was able to occur under the guise of legal trading in the eighteenth century. This was not necessarily on the scale of Benson, but Customs records are littered with small scale seizures as well as mistakes’ and discrepancies in the ships papers, suggesting that low volume smuggling was indeed widespread and common. This was largely enabled through the inefficiency and potential corruption of Customs.

Firstly, customs were based in Bideford itself yet were required to monitor a huge estuarial and coastal area. In the eighteenth century the port of Bideford also superintended Appledore, so subsequently the entire estuary and all the small creeks and inlets (including several which ran to Benson’s property). On top of this the jurisdiction also stretched all the way out to Hartland, including the harbour of Clovelly and the multitude of secluded grey pebbled beaches, where one would assume a level of smuggling could have been sustained, untraced and unrecorded for years.

Secondly, Customs was made up from a hodge-podge of posts and often with inadequate personnel. [Unfortunately, Bideford’s customs records were lost in a fire in the nineteenth century, but in looking at our neighbours Barnstaple’s customs records we can gage what the situation would most likely have been like and often there is an overlap between the two ports, so we can find evidence related to the Port of Bideford within them.] Barnstaple ‘s Custom records clearly show that its staff were often not up to the task throughout the eighteenth century:

In 1727 two tidewaiters in were suspended for absence from the ship they were supposed to be watching. Went on Appledore Quay for a cupp of beer’.

1799- the acting collector called all officers to the custom house for a collective charge of neglect.

From these types of charges, which frequently crop up it is evident that even if the customs officers were not actively and deliberately aiding smugglers, through neglect they certainly passively helped the free traders’. Moreover we see (and can often infer) from the customs records that the officers were not averse themselves to taking advantage of contraband and unaccustomed goods:

In 1804 the Betsey was seized just off Appledore (it was hotly contested between Bideford and Barnstaple as to who had rights over it). On seizing the vessel the Barnstaple Collector and Controller dealt out the wine and spirits as he chose’. The next day one of the officers, the tidewaiter Perryman had been found dead alongside the boat. Matthews then asserted that he had died by falling overboard in a state on intoxication’ and further insisted that as only 2 out of 100 large casks and 16 out of 442 of the small easily moveable casks’ were missing, that this was a small enough discrepancy to prove no embezzlement’ on their behalf.

However this case takes on a more sinister and puzzling turn as the Bideford Collector (who had also sought the prize) claimed that Perryman was found floating dead with wound in neck and face and eyes much bruised and further a Boat came alongside the Prize and was laden with part of the cargo, which was carried into the port of Bidefordno doubt the officer.lost his life by not acceding to the measure.

Quite what the real truth of this event was, we will probably never know but it does clearly illustrate a high level of ineffectiveness and fraud within the institution which was meant to prevent smuggling and clearly does not show them to be figures of respect within their communities.

However to explain the rise of the heyday’ of smuggling and what propelled the more traditional image of the smuggler, he who worked by moonlight in deserted beaches, we need to look at national changes and how they manifested themselves in Bideford. Ultimately it boiled down to war.

War and smuggling had an antagonistic relationship. For the most part war was unpopular, damaging trade, draining resources and press gangs forcing men into service. Press gangs were particularly prominent in Bideford and the surrounding area due to the large number of seafaring men, one only needs to look at the Beaver Inn, Appledore which stands as testament. Trade and resources diminished increased demand for goods and the government raised customs and revenue taxes in order to fund increasingly expensive wars. This high taxation of course increased incentive (and the potential profits) to smuggle and also heightened resentment towards the increasingly centralised, bureaucratic government. This is particularly prevalent to Bideford who by the mid 17 th century had lost much of its input in the national government. This as a mercantile class were starting to supplant the traditional aristocracy and Bideford was had been losing its relative national importance as a centre of trade. On the flipside it was this very distance from authority which also helped to facilitate smuggling and the wars helped masked much smuggling and privateering.

The government of course tried to prevent smuggling as it obviously drained the government’s revenue and resources and we see more and more draconian measures and Acts passed during the eighteenth century. This included a Hovering Act in 1718 to deter small vessels from hovering near the coast, waiting to pick up contraband goods and Indemnity Acts in 1736 and 1746 which made smuggling a capital punishment, though pardoned those who provided further information on fellow smugglers. These proved to have limited success and instead began a vicious cycle: the stakes were raised, so the smugglers responded with more cunning, daring and violence. This cycle escalated, fuelled by other factors such as an increase in consumerism: those goods which had once been luxuries were now perceived as necessities, such as Tea.

For the government smuggling was not only an economic drain but also perceived as an attack against the government and the country itself, an internal war raging alongside those externally. This image of a fight against a monolithic government was only to become more potent as in the mid eighteenth century, outside of war time the government employed naval vessels to defend against smuggling. Furthermore was the introduction of Excise Officers, who were far more regulated and centrally controlled than the Customs officers and one can imagine the kind of reception a governmental stranger would have had in relatively small and close knit communities. They were more successful and on capturing a smuggling vessel it would then be taken as a revenue vessel or broken up, visualising the destruction of the smugglers’ trade. However, again these officers had huge distances to patrol, so despite an increased efficiency their total success was limited and a cat and mouse game ensued.

This whole situation was exacerbated during the American war of Independence . Economically, as the colonies were Britain ‘s biggest trading partner (indeed it had made Bideford’s fortune a century before) and consequently by the early 1780’s it was estimated that two thirds of the tea drunk in England was smuggled. Also it was ideologically damaging as the Colonies were fighting against their centralised control in Britain . This heightened fears of smuggling and caused the image of the smuggler to become more politicised, illustrated by Lord Pembroke in 1781, Will Washington take America or the Smugglers England first?. With this in mind it is not surprising that the next law against smuggling, The Act of Oblivion’ in 1782 entailed that a smuggler could clear his name if he served in the Royal Navy.

Following defeat, defeat more preventative measures were taken and duties were slashed in 1784, most importantly on tea, from 119% to 12%. This was clever move as due to teas’ light bulky nature it was often used to hide other smuggled goods within the ballast or hold. Correspondingly, although it had been a small proportion of the seized goods, there are no more seizures of tea during the period in the North Devon Customs records after 1784, but this does not apply to other items.

By this point smuggling has for some years been increasingand carried on at present on the Coasts of Devon and Cornwall to such an alarming Extent and in such a systematic manner’. The evidence available corresponds with the imagery that the southwest remains famous for, utilising isolated areas, stealth and violence when necessary. The Customs records in 1804 give us a wealth of circumstances:

In summer these goods were landed in summer along the coasts of north Cornwall and North West Devon whereas in winter, further east in safer water. Further, on landing these goods they are conveyed into the interior, by Land, after night, on horsesin a body of 20 or 30, very strongly guarded’.

Smugglers were using vessels, being of the description of vessels employed in the limestone trade[with]..limestones on deck’. -The bulky cargo was used to hide goods, whilst the chemical composition of limestone itself required to be unloaded by the limekilns which were numerous around Bideford and in isolated locations.

There have been reports of smugglers conveying Goods by Land after night, to cross the River in Various places with their Horses in low water to avoid entering town over the bridges


Running parallel to the legends of smuggling are those more sinisterly of wrecking. This is a grey area of smuggling as the goods had, escaped the degradation of the gauger’s brand’. A good wreck season was seen much like a good mackerel season, God given to alleviate the harsh and meagre existence of the dwellers along the coast’. If there were no survivors it was believed that the cargo was no one’s property and eerily a local superstition was that a life saved from the sea brought no one any luck’ (Smith p. 65) Recorded events and acts do indeed imply a malevolent picture and not necessarily just cases of salvage:

In January of 1737 the Golden Mary of Bristol , stranded at Saunton Sands and all men lost’. Some of the cargo was salvaged by the Customs but over the next five months there are reports of Customs finding and confiscating more of these goods in the hands of local merchants.

In February 1802 the Hope of Penryn, laden with Portuguese oranges, had become a total wreck every person on board perished’ leaving goods to be salvaged. The officers concerned only reported the incident several hours after it had happened by which time much of the cargo had been stolen. More sinisterly, the reports add that with help, rather than the immediate plunder of the vessel, she could have been put ashore inside the bar and probably saved’

An Act of 1753 made it a non clergyable felony to kill or impede anyone trying to escape a wreck and a capital offence to put a light on rocks and draw a ship to danger.

The Legacy

The proliferation of smuggling did indeed decrease, especially after the Napoleonic Wars, and increase in prevention and decrease in taxation. However the romantic idea of the smuggler has indeed lived on in and around Bideford, as elsewhere in the Southwest by still having a hold over peoples’ imaginations. This is perhaps hardly surprising given both the strong sense of local identity still present and the physical setting. The beautiful awe inspiring coast that surround Bideford and the area under its jurisdiction: the isolated coves and creeks and the majestic, yet threatening cliffs and reefs.

The locally infamous, eccentric Reverand Hawker claimed that on arrival to Morwenstow in 1834 he found a small, poor congregation, whose wretched condition pained him’. They lived alongside the remnants of smuggling daysthe love for it still smouldered in their veins’. Further it was claimed the vicarage, which was nearly in ruins was being used as a store for smuggled goods. The extent of truth here is debateable but it is an image which has been handed down. Most notably as Hawker published The Ballad of Cruel Coppinger’, a dastardly smuggler who formed an organised band of desperadoes, smugglers, wreckers and poachers’ after being washed up at Masland Mouth. The common view is that this is an elaborated tale based on an amalgamation of D.H Coppinger who was washed up in Welcombe 23 rd December 1792 and perhaps the mid eighteenth century merchant John Coppinger.

As long as there are restrictions people will smuggle; be it bringing home an extra packet of cigarettes from holiday or a much bigger illicit operation. We cannot generalise or bracket together all smugglers, but certainly in the idea of the honest thief’ is in no danger of dying out, holding particular resonance in this difficult economic time.

Select Bibliography

Barnstaple Customs Records

The Trial of John Lancy in Select Trials in the Sessions- House at the Old Bailey’, Vol III ( London 1764) Eighteenth Century Collections Online , pp. 29-48.

Anon, Journal of the time I spent on the Island of Lundy in the years 1752 and 1787′, North Devon Magazine (1824)

Brewer. J, The Sinews of Power (Unwin Hyman: London 1989)

Drake. D, Members of Parliament for Barnstaple 1689-1832′, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 73, p. 185Fielder Duncan , A History of Bideford (Philimore & Co Ltd.: Chichester 1985)

Gaydon. T, North Devon Smugglers’ in The North Devon Magazine (Masland Printers:Tiverton 1989), pp.65-67.

Hawker. Rev. R.J, Cruel Coppinger’ in Complete Prose Works of Rev R.W. Hawker (1893), pp. 95-107.

Lamb, Charles, Old Margate Hoy’, in The Last Essays of Elia. from Hutchinson . T (ed.), The Works of Charles Lamb (Oxford University Press: Oxford 1924), pp. 692-99.

Smith. G, Shipwrecks of the Bristol Channel (Countryside Books: Newbury 1991)

Tenstrom. M, The Ownership of Lundy by Sir Richard Grenville and his Descendants, 1577-1775′, Transactions of the Devonshire Association , 130 (1998), pp.65-80.

Thomas. S, The Nightingale Scandal: The Story of Thomas Benson and Lundy (Myrtle Tenstrom: Cheltenham 2001)

Rowen McKenzie

This work by Bideford 500 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License

Goaty’s News is grateful to Bideford 500 for making this work Creative Commons

More about Parson Hawker

File:St Morwenna, Morwenstow.jpg

(Photo: Bob Parkes – Creative Commons)
Parson Hawker’s church – St Morwenna, Morwenstow

“Down the centuries the rugged and unforgiving north Cornwall coastline as taken a terrible toll on sea vessels. And the iron shore of the parish itself as seen a number of tragedies, not least one on the 7th Sept. 1843. The 200 ton brig Caledonia from Arbroath, sailing from Constantinople to Bristol, via Falmouth, with a cargo of grain foundered at Vicarage Cliffs with the lose of all but one of its nine hands. Before Hawkers day corpses that washed ashore had been interred in situ, without ceremony. But Hawker knew it was his Christian duty to give a proper burial to all who had perished within the bounds of the parish. The warrior figurehead of the ship – prominent inside the churchyard marks the collective grave of its crew. “

Extract fromParson Hawker: The Universal Priest Poet of Morwenstow by Stewart Beer

“Hawker was a legendary eccentric. He is known to have dressed up as a mermaid and excommunicated his cat for mousing on Sundays. He dressed in claret-coloured coat, blue fisherman’s jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket, which he claimed was the ancient habit of St Pardarn. He talked to birds, invited his nine cats into church. He kept a huge pig as a pet.

Hawker is believed to be the person who brought back the mediaeval custom of the Harvest Festival into the church. He also ensured that sailors drowned in shipwrecks received a Christian burial.

He was concerned that the bodies of drowned men received a Christian burial, and would scramble down the cliffs, and carry back the bodies for a church grave. Until Hawker they were often buried on the beach where they were found, without Christian rites, as the belief was that it was not possible to tell if they were Christian or not.” – Extract from

Hawker’s Hut

This driftwood hut on the cliffs near Morwenstow is the National Trust’s smallest property. It was built by the eccentric Reverend Hawker, who was vicar of Morwenstow from 1834 until his death in 1875. Hawker would sit in his hut and write poetry and it was here that he penned ‘The Song of the Western Men’, which has become a Cornish anthem.

Autumn Safety Day 2012

Autumn Safety Day 2012 #Falmouth #Coastguard Rescue Team. #RNLI #Fire #Sailing #Diving #Police #WaterSafety #News

Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team - "Semper Paratus"

Autumn Safety Event is being held on Saturday 29th September 2012 from 10:00 – 15:00 at The Boathouse, Commercial Road, Penryn.

Come along and meet the teams, and speak to professioanal people about keep YOU safe. Safety Day Sept 2012



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Search and rescue men leave UK today to cycle 3100 miles across the US for charity – Updated 22 Sept 2012 2230Z

3 men from 771 Search and Rescue squadron, based at Culdrose, Cornwall, are leaving UK today to ride 3100 miles from Oceanside, San Diego to New York Cities, Times Square.

The Riding Team: Justin Morgan, Damian Barnes & Wayne Davey

They aim to complete the ride in 17 days following the RAAM (Race Across America) route through 12 states, 88 Counties, 350 communities and 170,000 feet of climbing.

The team are attempting to raise £20,000 for charity along the way.

The Little Harbour Children’s Hospice, St Austell, the Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund are set to benefit.

“We have been working hard raising money in supermarkets, shopping centres and even women’s clothes shops! With concerts, children’s parties, coffee mornings, auctions and much, much more planned! ”

David Beckham has shown his support for them, and the charities they are riding for, by signing a sweat shirt in May, no doubt he will be following their progress keenly.

the riding team are….

Justin Morgan, 31, serves with 771 Squadron Search and Rescue, based at Culdrose.

Damian Barnes joined the Royal Marines in 1998 and in that time I’ve worked in Jungle, Desert and Arctic environments.

Wayne Davey 34 years old, is a SWAST Paramedic who also works with 771 Squadron.

3100 Miles can found at

And, for a taste of what these men do in their ‘day job’:

22/09/12 They’re off! 3100 miles getting a send off from the locals in San Diego, USA

Donations can be made here:

Fishing Vessel Call Out!

Mullion Coastguard Team

The team were all paged this evening at 2220 hours to the Halzephron/Church Cove area of Gunwalloe following reports of a fishing vessel which had got its rudder caught up and was unable to progress. The team were called to locate the vessel and update Falmouth coastguard officers as to their position and call out the Relevant resource which given their location to relevant support agencies and guide in the appropriate resource which on this occasion was the lizard inshore lifeboat who attended and located the vessels before towing back towards Porthleven harbour. All crew were returned to Porthleven unharmed.

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David Beckham has shown his support for 3 RAF SAR charity riders, @3100miles, by signing a hoodie

3 men from 771 Search and Rescue squadron, based at Culdrose, Cornwall, are setting out to ride 3100 miles from Oceanside, San Diego to New York Cities, Times Square.

David Beckham has shown his support for them, and the charities they are riding for, by signing a hoodie yesterday (Tuesday)

They aim to complete the ride in 17 days following the RAAM (Race Across America) route through 12 states, 88 Counties, 350 communities and 170,000 feet of climbing.

The team are attempting to raise £20,000 for charity along the way.

The Little Harbour Children’s Hospice, St Austell, the Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund are set to benefit.

These men are doing more than sitting around eatingice cream ……..

“We have been working hard raising money in supermarkets, shopping centres and even women’s clothes shops! With concerts, children’s parties, coffee mornings, auctions and much, much more planned! ”

And finally, the riding team are….

Justin Morgan, 31, serves with 771 Squadron Search and Rescue, based at Culdrose.

Damian Barnes joined the Royal Marines in 1998 and in that time I’ve worked in Jungle, Desert and Artic environments.

Wayne Davey 34 years old, is a SWAST Paramedic who also works with 771 Squadron.

3100 Miles can found at

US: 150 suffer suspected food poisioning at Buddhist monastery

Putnam County health officials have determined that roughly 150 people got sick after eating food that was brought to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Kent on Sunday during a Mothers Day celebration.

Chuang Yen Monastery
(Click on photo to go

Health officials collected several samples of food that visitors brought to the sprawling campus of the Buddhist monastery off Route 52 and have sent them to a state laboratory in Albany for testing, Rebecca Wittenberg, public health director for the health department, said today.

I know there have been some reports as to what caused the illness but, at this point, we do not know the cause, Wittenberg said this afternoon.

We may know when the test results come back.

She could not say when that might be.

About 700 people came to the monastery from New York City, Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties, as well as Connecticut. Roughly 500 of them came by bus from New York City, then left for a shopping trip to the Woodbury Commons outlet stores in Orange County, where many of them took ill.

The symptoms were limited mostly to vomiting and stomach cramps, although a few people experienced diarrhea, Wittenberg said.

Patients were taken to five or six hospitals, depending on where they first experienced symptoms.

Putnam health officials are working with other health officials to speak to each person who was treated for the illness to find out what they ate Sunday and when they ate it, she said.

Emergency responders in Woodbury treated about 60 people, sending roughly half of them to be evaluated at local hospitals.

For this amount of people, at one time, this gets classified as a MCI massive casualty incident,

said David Sutz, an emergency medical technician with the Woodbury Community Ambulance.

Sgt. Cliff Weeks of the Woodbury police said the first patient was a 91-year-old woman. He said 20 victims were taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, St. Lukes Cornwall Hospital in Cornwall and Orange Regional Medical Center in Goshen to be treated for symptoms believed to have been caused by food poisoning.

One of the biggest concerns (with this illness) is the risk of dehydration, Wittenberg said.

If you did take ill and you havent been evaluated, we would ask people to speak to their medical provider or access an emergency room to seek treatment.

Health officials are also asking anyone who ate at the monastery Sunday and got sick to call them at 845-808-1390 and press zero to speak with a receptionist.

She also urged anyone who took home leftover food from the event to throw it in the trash.Kent Police Det. Gerald Locascio said there does not appear to be any criminality in the incident and that investigators are working with heallth officials to determine which dish may have caused the outbreak.

Tuesday, 15 May, 2012 at 09:05 (09:05 AM) UTC RSOE

Update: Sticky rice balls are suspected as a possible culprit, Town ofKent Police Det. Gerald Locascio said Monday.

For more on this story:

Dramatic Cliff Rescue at Mullion Cove in Cornwall, UK

Cornwall UK: Holiday maker falls from cliff nr Mullion Cove Hotel onto rocks, airlifted in poorly condition

BBC News report updated at 19:58 5 May 2012

Mullion Coastguard Team

The team aided by neighbouring Porthoustock Cliff Rescue Team have just returned from an operational Callout at Mullion Cove.

At approximately 1910 hours the team were paged by Falmouth ops room to reports of a 54 year old male holiday maker in the county for less than 8 hours,fallen from the Mullion Cove Hotel side onto the rocks below. Navy rescue 193 and Mullion and Porthoustock Cliff Rescue Teams were Mobilised and a very swift attendance at the scene followed.

South Cornwall Sector Manager also in attendance and overseeing operations.

The male was recovered in an extremely serious condition and airlifted to Royal Cornwall Hospital by navy 193 and emergency life support carried out by the on board paramedic.

Mullion and Porthoustock rope rescue technicians were sent down to the cliffs bottom to recover stretchers and other equipment left by the helicopter crew and a z-drag recovery system was utilised…

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A major fire has destroyed the Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, at Gyllyngvase in Falmouth Cornwall – Updated 3rd May 2012


“More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Best Western Falmouth Beach Hotel, at Gyllyngvase in Falmouth which started just after 12:00 BST.

Staff and guests, including Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, were moved to safety and a neighbouring hotel was evacuated.

Strong winds fanned the flames, allowing the fire to spread and causing the roof to collapse. No-one was hurt.

Three guests are unaccounted for, but it is believed they were on day trips and not in the hotel when the fire started.” – BBC

More here:

Update 3rd May 2012:

Fire was an accident

“A HOT tar barrel and a blow-torch could be at the root of a devastating fire which ripped through one of Falmouth’s premier hotels on Monday.

Early indications point to an accident by maintenance workers on the flat roof of the main Falmouth Beach Hotel building as the likely cause.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector John Trott said: “We have a reasonable understanding of why we think it has happened.

“We are happy it was an accident – there certainly does not appear to have been any suspicious activity.”- Cornwall Local News