Chapel Rock and life on a ketch – from John Acland’s book, 1914

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At the Breakwater on an afternoon an hour or two before high tide, so picture the scene:

AS we get nearer to it, the deep harmonious roar of the waves becomes ever more impressive. The tide has reached only half way up its sloping side, so in crossing to Chapel Rock we may stand and admire the breakers below and yet so near us.

… look right out to sea and try to grasp the fact that no single tract of land or rock lies between us and the coast of America; a clear unbroken stretch of 2,000 miles in ocean.

He writes of the difficulties and delays in times past for ships entering the harbour:

… during the finest weather there are many days each monthwhen there is not depth enough of water even at high-tide for ships to pass in and out, and at other times it is only possible for an hour or two each day. In bad weather, nothing can be attempted, and it not infrequently happens that a ketch comes down from Wales with coal or other cargo, and is driven back again to shelter under Lundy Island, or perhaps to the very port from which she started. At the best of times the entrance is risky and even dangerous, the channel available for a lden ship is but 100 yards wide or so, with rocks on one sode and sand and rock combined on the other.

He then watches a ketch:

As she comes nearer we are able to realise the vast size of the waves, heaving her up as they pass under her stern and seeming to bring her almost to a standstill as she lies in the trough. If by chance the wave is breaking as it overtales her, the whole deck is flooded and the helmsman is in danger of being washed from his post, or crushed by the weight of water. Perhps the greates risk of all is if the wind falls light, when near the chapel Rock; the action of the rollers overtaking the vessel will drive her out of her course, and may force her against the rocks or on to the sands; but once within the worst of the breakers help is near at hand.

Ketch Kindly Light, Falcon in background

 

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