Friday, 24 July 2009

Salvamento Maritimo

Having spent a week in Spain just recently sailing with my father it was inevitable that at some point we would bump into the local lifesavers somewhere along the line. Luckily this happened but not at sea!

In Camarinas, a small Galician fishing harbour slightly to the east of Cape Finisterre, my father and I happened upon the local Salvamento Maritimo vessel, a fully crewed and permanently on call lifeboat. Carlos, photographed here with my old man was the deck-hand and seemed very content with his job.

The vessel itself was a copy of a Norwegian Lifeboat and was impressive, featuring jet drives, twin Caterpillar engines, aluminium hull and no less that 3 sleeping cabins! It was carpeted throughout...including in the spotless engine room.

As you would expect, her crew of 3 full-timers (and no volunteers) keep her in a spotless condition.

Once we reached A Coruna we also had a chance to visit the tomb of General Sir John Moore. Those of you who know your history will recall that he died during the peninsular wars in the battle for A Coruna on the 16th January 1809. His death was immortalised by the words of poet Charles Woolfe. Locally Sir John Moore is remembered and celebrated as a hero and the English are held in high regard as a consequence.

The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna

Charles Wolfe. 1791–1823

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light
And the lanthorn dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollow'd his narrow bed
And smooth'd down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that 's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him—
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But we left him alone with his glory.

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