Friday, November 27, 2009

Where is your refuge?

Recently, I was asked where would be my place of refuge. Perhaps, it's an easy question to answer when we have the Tower of Refuge in Douglas Bay.

In around 1824, Sir William Hillary conceived the idea of a life boat service manned by a trained crew. This idea was the fore runner of our RNLI. The tower was built on Coniston Rock, after Hillary had been washed overboard from a lifeboat, when trying to save a Steam Packet vessel. He already knew the waters of the Irish Sea were dangerous and he discovered the distance to the shore was too far to swim. The tower gave shipwrecked survivors a refuge, equipped with fresh water and bread, while awaiting their rescue.

For someone brought up near the sea, and loving many kinds of boats, it's a classic sailing boat that I would consider my refuge. There is something comfy and purposeful about how some boats are laid out below decks. Secure accessible stowage is essential, everything has its own particular place, so that it won't go missing, get broken or cause damage if left lying about. I do remember going over an old folk boat, some years ago, which had its own tiny woodburning stove, very cosy.

It's also possible to batten down the hatches from below in inclement weather and if the weather is violent, then the sea anchors could be used. Although, the safest place to be in a boat in bad weather is, of course, in a harbour.

We have a Maritime Artist on the Island called Nicola Dixon, whose compositions are delightful, quirky and I love them. She also has connections with IYRS in Newport RI, as do we! With her permission - here is one of her pictures of the outer Castletown Harbour.

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