The Solitary Seawatchers

Setting the scene

Boscastle distant

The fishing boat crests a new wave, and balances for a split second before crashing down into the trough. On deck, the two sailors desperately fight to keep the boat afloat whilst attempting to steer for the sheltered harbour. Its high walls signal safety from the wrath of the weather.

Hours pass and still they struggle the waves pushing them closer to the cliffs, yet somehow no closer to the harbour. The fish nets have long since been lost, torn from the deck by a sweeping wave that had nearly taken the crew with it.

Then, as they finally start to give up hope, their sharp eyes catch a glimpse of a coastguard station perched high on the cliff above them. The captain desperately makes a mayday call but no reply is heard. Behind the boat a freak wave appears, the captain starts to panic. He grabs the flare gun and fires off a desperate shot, it goes high into the storm and then splutters out as the wind grabs and tosses it into the sea.

The freak wave starts to crash down, a wall of solid power directed straight at their small vessel. The boat’s spine doesn’t stand a chance and splits in two. The sailors are thrown into the cold, harsh water.

High above the debris, the coastguard station stands alone and solitary in the storm. Inside lie the gutted remains, whilst outside, the fishermen it was supposed to protect are lost to the waves.

The National COAST-WATCH Institution

A number of coastguard stations were closed prior to 1994, but after two fishermen lost their lives to the Cornish sea, the NCI was set up to watch UK shores. It is an organisation run by over 2000 volunteers, and currently 50 stations around the UK are manned all year.

Willapark lookout

The Boscastle lookout was built in the 1800s by a local landowner as a summerhouse. Later on, it was re-purposed to help prevent the smuggling of contraband booze. The smugglers landed at Boscastle and then smuggled the goods inland, perhaps via the infamous Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor. The coastguard then used it as a lookout until the 1970’s.

It was maintained as a folly by the National Trust but is now leased to the NCI as part of the coastguard watch. It opened in 2003 and is still maintained today. You can find out more about the NCI here.

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