Lest we forget.

That’s a way to while away the hours.

24th May 2020

Bream Cove, UK- Coverack, UK via Channel Creek, Turnaware Point & Old Kea, Falmouth, UK

The sacrifices that some people make fade away without any form of acknowledgement and are lost in the busy hubbub of daily life. Some people’s sacrifice however make an indelible mark on the landscape, our psyches, and the way in which we live our lives. The adventuring on Ruffian has enabled us to witness the marks left by these sacrifices and we have been humbled by them.

With the mist slowly burning off over the stately home overlooking Channel Cove we had a big day of exploration planned. Just across the river was an embarkation point for American troops bound for Omaha beach in June 1944. From afar we could only see a hillside, a pretty beach and the trees having turned green in the summer sun. Up close however was a much more sobering experience.

As soon as we landed the sacrifice of the troops in 1944 was laid bare. The tanks had left indelible marks in the concrete roads that led to the landing craft and you could picture the Nissen huts, whose only remains were foundations, being the troops last form of shelter before the crossing to France and the confrontation which they’d been training for. With trees and vines claiming the remains ashore, at the water edge limpets and mussels were reclaiming the slipways and jetties. We were saddened to think that soon all this would be gone and those troops forgotten.

Cresting the hill that overlooked the bay and the embarkation point our hearts rose. A memorial, placed in a prime location, overlooking all the beauty of the bay paid tribute to these fine people, marking their sacrifice and making us feel lucky that although we live in troubled times, times are not as troubled as they have been.

Back on-board Ruffian the usual business of running a boat took precedence. We’ve learnt through experience that happy sails and happy engines make for happy cruising and its our responsibility to make them both happy. Down came the sails, halyards were whipped, stitching checked and cleats replaced. As Iain took to replacing a leach line cleat it’s a sign on the cruising life that not only did he have time to tie 76 half hitches, to make the lashing look pretty, he also had time (and the interest) to count them!

The engine also needed it’s usual TLC and here we were foxed. We’ve serviced engines so much that we have our little systems and we can replace the oil and filters within the hour. This time it was different. On boat engines there is a somewhat unusual system for changing the oil, instead of just letting it drain out of the bottom you suck it out through the dipstick hole. It is as painful as it sounds.

Into the dipstick hole we inserted our ‘sucky’ tube*, which was attached to our sucky machine*, and sucky it didn’t do! Time and time again we inserted the tube, we got scientific and measured the insertion, we got brazen and inserted the whole thing. Not once did we get any sucking and with lots of head scratching, we took the only option of having a cup of tea. With tea drunk and trying the same things again, magically out came the oil. The power of the tea had worked.

With happy sail and happy engines, the lockdown easing and the breeze abating we could once again take to the seas. We were headed to another location where sacrifices had been made and scenes of devastation had been witnessed. We where heading for Coverack, home of one of the most southerly lifeboat stations in England.

Heading out into the bay it was clear that new lockdown rules enabling outdoor pursuits were in force. Boats where everywhere and every shape, size and age. We watched as majestic working boats struggled in the fickle winds and lightweight racing boats scooted along silently. It felt like a weight was being lifted as we could finally go to new places witness new things and resume our exploring.

Coverack was picture perfect in every way. We were alone on the long white sandy beach and we watched in awe as the anchor dropped to the seabed far below us into the clear blue sea. Ashore the mark of sacrifice was once again clear, the lifeboat station took pride of place and dominated the front.

In stark contrast to the conditions we were experiencing we imagined the brave lifeboatmen who descended the ramp into mountainous seas in order to save 1000’s of lives and many ships that floundered on this coastline. Once again we were happy, that although we are navigating our way through troubled seas, those troubled seas are still enabling us to enjoy our limited freedoms.

*Sucky is a technical term for an oil suction pump.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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