Monday 26 July 2021

Stella Maris

That morning we’d been anchored up, round in Mount’s Bay;
Fuel filters had been on the blink, and Knut and Ove looked none too bright
Hunched over coffee in the mess, after an all-nighter.
The forecast by now was looking grim, but we got under way;
Sheltering’s all very well, but you don’t get paid
For fannying around. Beyond Wolf Rock the swells
flung into scudding spindrift. By dusk the wind was off the scale
And us hove to against it. Boy never left the helm, and laid
The bows into the waves that boiled around us.
Below, the crash of crockery and crew came from the mess;
Up here, the groaning in the rigging was the only sound,
A crazy sort of calm in the storm's eye, but calm of sorts it was.
Crackling on Channel 16. Hans, his face lit by the radar
Murmured “Freighter. They're in trouble back there.”

I wrote this about my first trip at sea, on seismic survey vessel Karen Bravo. We were transiting from Germany to Fleetwood in Lancashire, and the evening of 19th December 1981 found us off Land's End in the ferocious storm that saw the destruction of freighter Union Star and the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne, and their crews and passengers.

I was thinking about that night, yesterday when I heard that RNLI crews have been attacked after being criticised by the likes of Nigel Farage for saving the lives of migrants rescued from the Channel. 

The painting at the top is a night view off Fraserburgh, from when we used to run in to shelter there during filthy weather in North Sea winters.


  1. He is beneath contempt

    Marvellous writing

  2. Oh, I know that a haters got to hate, but even someone like that should manage a bit of compassion, and at least a small measure of admiration for those who put their lives on the line for those in peril. Shame!

    Your art moves the heart Dru. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Deanna. Yes, what sort of total weasel could think that way? It's wickedness

  3. Dru, This made me cry. Beautifully put.