The Coastguard Cutter Vol7 No4

The Coastguard Cutter
April 09 Edition
Vol 7 No. 4.

"The Lady Margaret"


Hello Friend,

Differences of opinion did arise from time to time between the Coastguard service and the men of the R.N.L.I. as this Drogheda call-out showed.


Crew of Lifeboat charged with neglect of Duty – Dismissal of the Cockswain.
Drogheda. 4th.December 1858.

In consequence of the wreck of the schooner ‘Earl of Spencer’ on the North Bull, near the Drogheda Bar, with the loss of two lives, during the late hurricane, on which occasion the Life-boat connected with the Drogheda Harbour, which has a crew of 16 or 17 men attached to it was not launched . The R.N.L.I. of London, through the Secretary, ordered an investigation into all the facts of the call, as the neglect was calculated to throw the utmost discredit on the life-boat furnished by the parent Society. It appeared that the Captain of the vessel was saved by some fishermen or pilots in a yawl, while the life-boat lay inert on the beach. The inquiry has just been held before the local committee, ten of the Drogheda merchants being in attendance. Lieutenant Jackson, Commander of the Queensborough Coast Guards was present at the investigation and the cockswain and entire crew attended on summons. Lieutenant Jackson stated that while some of the men went away with the yawl he succeeded in getting the lifeboat into the water, and was about proceeding with the crew towards the Bar perch, but before they had reached that point the men refused to act, as the sea on the bar was dreadful in that the men said that if they went out they would never come back – and that the yawl had saved the captain, who was the only person remaining on the vessel.

The explanation given by Smith, the cockswain, was that when he and the crew observed the men on the wreck they decided on going out in the yawl, as they could not take the lifeboat over the bar. He considered it his duty, he said, to save life in the quickest way, but the crew would not go out in the lifeboat. The crew were separately examined. One of them said it took four horse and twenty men to move the life-boat to the beach., but they failed and had to bring it back, while they were able to take the yawl on their shoulders and launch it. The crew having withdrawn, the Board expressed themselves on the inefficiency of the cockswain, and said it was evident the crew had not sufficient confidence in the boat or in themselves. It appeared that the life-boat was never exercised except in fine weather. Lieutenant Jackson, with a number of the crew, said they would exercise the life-boat on the first rough day that a steamer could not reach the Bar. It was agreed to appoint a new cockswain, and exercise the boat periodically in stormy weather.
(From our Correspondent.)

Ref: Saunders News-Letter Monday 6th.December 1858.

Irish  Life-boats. 1858.

Quennsboro CG StationDrogheda Thursday 9th.December.With reference to the investigation held lately before the Drogheda Life-boat Committee on the subject of neglect on the part of the life-boat crew at the wreck of the ‘Earl of Spencer’, particulars of which appeared in the Saunder’s News-letter of the 6th.inst., two letters were read today before the Drogheda Harbour Commissioners, from the R.N.L.I. Institution in London:- “ I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th.inst., stating the result of the inquiry of the local committee respecting the loss of life from the wreck of the ‘Earl of Spencer’, and the non-use of the Drogheda Life-boat on that lamentable occasion. Referring to your remark on the dismissal of the life-boat coxswain, may it not be desirable to appoint an efficient Coastguard man in his place, leaving the selection to Lieutenant Jackson, R.N. who takes much interest in the management of the life-boat “.

The second letter, dated the 7th.inst. recommends  that an arrangement should be made that a proportion of the crew would consist of such Coastguard men and maybe available to make up the number of a full crew, which will be completed by the pilots and other boatmen of the place. The letter then goes on to say that if the arrangement should be acceded to, and as Lieutenant Jackson would then have the life-boat crew always under his control, and as he resides near the life-boat house it would be like-wise desirable that he might act as Hon. Sec. The letter concludes with an expression of satisfaction that steps are to be taken to make a tramway road to convey the life-boat from the boat-house to the north shore. After the reading of the letters to the meeting, every gentleman present expressed a wish that Lieutenant Jackson, who is Commander of the Queenborough Coastguard would take the entire management of the life-boat into his own hands, and that it is confidentially expected he will do so. He was spoken of in the highest terms.
(From our correspondent)

Ref: Saunders News-Letter Friday 10th.December 1858.

The bottom portion of a sail is called the foot. It is not secured, it is FOOTLOOSE and dances randomly in the wind.

Pirates used marooning as an act of punishment. A transgressor of their codes could be stripped and left upon an isolated island with  only a few supplies, if any at all. Many transgressors preferred a quick death to marooning, for it could mean starvation or worse, isolation for years, until rescue or death.

Revenue Fleet News
Kingstown Intelligence. 1861.
The schooner 'Clyde' leaving the harbour was driven on shore on the rocks at the back of the East Pier Lighthouse, under the battery. Captain Boyd, of Her Majesty’s ship 'Ajax' and Walter Daish, Esq. of the cutter ‘Wellington’ with boats crew were promptly on the scene to render assistance, but with no success, she may become a wreck, her crew got ashore safely.
Ref: Freemans Journal Saturday 9 February 1861.


UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Gale in the Irish Sea. 1911.

The full force of a north-easterly gale was experienced yesterday morning at Fishguard. Eight vessels running for shelter were quickly in distress, and showed flares for aid. The Fishguard lifeboat put off to one schooner, and rescued four men. The schooner Fox, of Runcorn, laden with coal for Pentuan, ran on to the rocks at Saddle Point. Chief Officer Taylor, of the Coastguard, brought the rocket apparatus up to the cliff, some eighty feet above the vessel, and by the use of the Breeches buoy, brought ashore the captain and the crew of four hands. The task occupied half an hour. The Fox is now being swept broadside on by mountainous seas, and is practically doomed.

Ref: The Irish Times 13 January 1911.

Maritime Memorial.

William Ryan and Samuel Hart. Sussex, New Romney. Sussex.

"In sacred memory of William Ryan, Boatman, Samuel Hart, boatman of St. Mary’s Coastguard station who perished through capsizing of the lifeboat on the night of the 9th March 1891 in a gallant attempt to save life."

Ref: The Times, London  5 November 1829.

Suicide from Beachy Head. 1906.

Last evening a man threw himself over the cliff at Beachy Head. It appears that at about ten minutes to seven a man between  forty and fifty years of age was seen by a Coastguard at Beachy Head, near the edge of the great cliff, close to Lloyd’s signal station. Being suspicious, the Coastguard went towards the man, and said ”I should like to speak to you , sir” The man without uttering a word threw down his umbrella, and jumped over the cliff, which, at that point, is quite 500 feet high. The body was caught on a ledge about 20 feet from the base of the cliff, wence it was subsequently removed with great difficulty. The body is that of a military-looking man, and the face is clean shaven, except for a moustache. The right arm is an artificial limb. The umbrella bears the initials "W.S."

Ref:  The Irish Times 17 May 1906.


The Lighthouse Focus -Lighthouse Focus [Vol 10]

Submarine Yarns.

The Evning Herald carried a story in 1963 described as sourced from Mr. W.Blood Smith whose father John was a local historian.  He related that a German submarine surfaced at Rockabill during World War One. The crew entered the lighthouse and held up thekeepers. Then the submarine beached between the two rocks at high tide, carried out repairs when the water fell and flouted off the next tide--- The story oft repeated cannot be confirmed either by reference to a date or the records of Irish Lights.


Rockabill, Skerries

Ref: "Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast" by Edward J.Bourke  Vol.3.


Lighthouse struck by a shot. 1892.

Captain G.Usborne R.N. Deputy Harbour Master of Cork Harbour, states that he had heard of the lighthouse being struck by a shot on one side of the harbour, and of the rocks being struck on the other side during target practice. Only lately complaints had been made by fishermen of fragments of shells falling about their boats. Complaints of the firing had been made by fishermen and by commanders of the tenders passing between the port and the American liners. In the case of the tenders passengers were frightened by shots coming in close proximity to them.

Ref: The Irish Times 10 May 1892.


 Coming in May Edition.

Lighthouse Focus tells of the courage of two ladies on Lighthouses...

"No time to Faint".







With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
(for Republic of Ireland call (01) 800 789 589 or visit

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