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"Dedication" a lifeboat poem
"Dedication" a lifeboat poem
Two falling stars of green, the wisps of smoke
Shredded and scattered by the South East gale
The whispered bangs and half the town awoke
And men came tumbling out prepared to sail.
The youngest lad, half-clad but undeterred
Bareheaded, breathless, brash and first away
And then his elders stormrigged, booted,, spurred
Full battle order, ready for the fray.
The heavy doors were wrestled back and pinned
While someone laid the bow preventer clear.
By now the strident voices of the wind
Were drowned by engines revving out of gear.
And then the shout “Let go”, away she sped
Into the black dark wilderness of night;
The coxwain fought the wheel to fetch her head
Close to the wind to stem the friendly light.
One flash, a heartbeat long, then black as pitch
That seemed to last forever-how she yawed
And staggered, veered and slewed, the wayward *****-
And then the lighthouse flashed again, thank God.
Threequarters ebb and wind against the tide,
The bar was shallow now and hissing white
With foam in streaks like brushstrokes, side to side
Across the wild dark canvas of the night.
Black walls of water from God knows how far,
Seas that were spawned a hundred miles away,
Unbalanced, burst in turmoil on the bar
And disappeared astern in sheets of spray.
But now we’re clear and squared away Sou’west,
The graveyard watch and still two hours to steam;
No comfort now, no warmth, no bloody rest
As long’s we have this weather on the beam.
The hourglass fettered now, no longer free;
The cold that thicks the blood has slowed the sand.
An hour to go D.R. before we see
The even darker darkness of the land.
The driving rain has turned to searing sleet
That blinds the eyes but never slacks the pace
The diesels drumming never missed a beat
Such music keeps the smile on *Selwyn’s face.
And then the Coastguard crackled on the air,
“The casualty is safe now-making way.
Return to station-when will you be there?”
Later we’d call and give our ETA.
The flame that spurred us out no longer burned
Cheated of worthwhile deeds that might have been
Wet cold and weary as for home we turned
And still that bloody bar is in between.
Three hours at least to dodge and wait for tide
With “Captain Kalt” on board and “Mal de Mer”;
Poor shipmates these, who tempt us on inside
But wait we must for there’s no room to err.
At last, at last, the run for home is on
Streaming the drogue in case she tries to broach
Grey faces in the grey half light of dawn
See boathouse lights come on at our approach.
The breasting rope is rove, the shoreline caught
By freezing fingers, throbbing now with pain.
The heel is on, the span is rigged and taut
The job is over now-she’s home again.
Rehoused, refuelled, fit once more for sea!
The boat at least, but what about the men?
No shame on them-the choice is always free-
If someone failed to turn out again.
Two falling stars of green lit up the sky,
Bangs to arouse the dead awoke the men,
The same old faces-Christ! I wonder why
And how that bloody boy was first again.
· RNLI Engineer
Poem written by retd Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Coxwain G C Davidson.
Another poem from Coxwain Davidson.
A Cautionary Tale.
Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,this is "Annie", "Annie", "Annie",
Mayday, one mile South of Brandy More.
There's a rope in my propeller and the bloomin' anchor's dragging
And the wind and tide are setting me on shore.
I should have veered more cable, but now I'm quite unable
For reasons you could never hope to guess.
I find it hard to say how things came to be this way
But I've never ever been in such a mess.
When the rope went in the screw, there was nothing I could do;
I knocked her out of gear and tried astern;
But even as I tried, the bloomin' engine died
And the shaft is quite impossible to turn.
The gland is leaking badly and I tried the pump but sadly
There wasn't any water coming through.
I took the pipes asunder and found the fault - no wonder
For the valve was jammed wide open by a screw.
I tried to shift the thing with a wire and then with string
It wouldn't budge and desperate at last
I poked it with my finger, and now till death I linger
With my index digit in the pump and FAST!
I've got communication for I'm trapped in a location
By the wheelhouse and the window's open wide
The VHF is handy but the hacksaw and the brandy
Are miles away across the other side.
In utter desperation I've considered amputation
But with 'Martell' anaesthetic out of reach
And the saw I need is too, there's nothing I can do
But pray that I'll be washed up on the beach.
In the bilge the level's rising at a rate that's quite surprising
I can feel her lurch and wallow in the swell
And should poor Annie sink - the thought I dread to think -
When Annie goes Yours truly goes as well.
I've never shot an albatross - don't even have a gun
Yet 'Lady Luck's' abandoned me, but why?
The only slightly wicked thing I know that I have done
Was to make the Lifeboat Lady pass me by.
I saw that Lifeboat Lady with collecting box and flags
Her eyes alight - I knew that I'd been spied;
I hesitated, feigning I was fumbling for my fags
Then altered course across the other side.
Forgive me God, I realise the move I made was mean -
Not like me - I recall it with dismay.
If you could find it possible to scrub my record clean
I'll keep it thus for ever and a day.
I hear the lifeboat coming, I recognise the drumming
Of the diesels when they're running out of synch.
Any moment now I know, they'll board and rig a tow;
How they'll free me from this pump I dread to think.
'Silence Fini', now its past. On the harbour wall at last,
I'm waiting to beach 'Annie' on the tide.
'Mong the faces on the quay, there's one that frightens me
Her eyes alight - I know that I've been spied.
At sea I wasn't queasy, but now I'm damned uneasy;
Not the trauma nor the prospect of a wreck,
Nor the very narrow shave - its the look THAT lady gave
And conscience like a millstone round my neck.
Penned by retired Kirkcudbright Coxwain George C Davidson
“Silence Fini” - Radio procedure for end of distress communications.
For Kalt read Cold !!
This immediatley brings back memories, as you no doubt know, among the crew there was always a few who spoke well (BBC English) Others from all points N,S,E and W had a variety of accents.
In order to be understood one realy had to modify the speaking a little, in some cases a lot ,such as for the boys From Belfast who for almost any reason could be called "bad speaking ba****ds.
I modified I believe as much as I could and was fairly well understood but still copped it, but no wuckin' forries about that.
What did erk me a lot was that my older brother had joined the RAF and after 2 years he was speaking like Prince Charles.
After almost 42 years as resident in Australia many people think I arrived from Belfast yesterday.
Hi, King Ratt. For some reason this is the 1st time I have read your thread. That 2nd. poem "A Cautionary Tale" is a beauty. Hope you can find some more to post. Sheer coincidence that I used the same title fore a set of my own verses.
For Jock Paul. Pleased you enjoyed George's poem. How about posting your own if they are of a nautical nature?
There is one more of my uncle's poems which I will eventually get onto the site. It concerns the St Nazaire raid in which he was an active participant.
After dropping my wife off at her work in the Browns bay library I sit in the car park in Browns bay Auckland. Out across the Hauraki gulf, the entrance to Auckland harbour is Rangitoto island, a dormant volcano and an iconic symbol of Auckland city itself.For those of you who have never been to this part of the world this is what this verse is about
Marching out across the gulf,
lead on gold,
lead on gold.
Obscuring first then showing
a sullen box boat
in the lee of Rangi.
She's no looker this one,
no Federal boat or star,
without grace she waits,
expectant,waiting for her berth,
pregnant with next years landfill,
all the way from China
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