There are two subjects which I have not yet touched on in my journey around the British coast, but which are particularly relevant to Cornwall: the plethora of shipwrecks off the coast, and the bravery of the local lifeboat men sent to deal with the aftermath of ships coming to grief off these treacherous waters. Cornwall has played host over the years to so many shipwrecks that a map of Cornwall has been produced, with the shipwrecks covering almost every inch of the coastline. As to the lifeboat crews, one can only look on in awe at the bravery of these men who voluntarily risk their lives to save others who stray into their territory and get into difficulties, accidentally or otherwise. On a bad day, lives are lost not only among the ship needing help, but among the lifeboat men themselves. One of the most tragic examples of such an event was immortalised by Seth Lakeman in his song Soloman Browne, about the Penlee lifeboat tragedy of 1981 in which all hands died, both on the stricken vessel, the Union Star, and the Solomon Browne, the lifeboat sent to its rescue. On a good day, both resuers and rescued get off lightly.
This was the case in 1911, when the Norwegian barque Saluto, on its way to Barbados, got into difficulties off the isles of Scillies. The Captain wisely decided to head for Falmouth, but on the way there came to grief off Cudden Point near Perranuthnoe. However, help was at hand in the form of the Newlyn lifeboat Elizabeth and Blanche, which carried out the rescue which such military precision that the operation was completed in an hour and a half, watched by an appreciative crowd of onlookers.
Today, Perranuthnoe is a relatively unspoilt spot on the Cornish coast, affording a view of St Michaels Mount from a different angle from the well-worn one used in tourist promotions. The area around the village is fascinating to students of prehistory. The names of the fields surrounding the village suggest Bronze Age and Roman settlement.
Map of the area.
photo © 2009 Gordon Plant | more info (via: Wylio)