Mals Memories

First published in Looking Back

DO YOU remember me telling you about a trip to the old Breaksea lightship on a stormy day in December in the early 1960s.

In those days the Breaksea was a manned lightship and it was the custom for the Port Missionary and Civic Dignitaries to visit the crew at Christmas time, taking traditional seasonal fare.

The dignitaries usually made the voyage aboard the Barry lifeboat which was quite pleasant in good weather conditions, but much less comfortable in a rougher sea. I quickly learned that making the trip on the pilot cutter was a far better option, but even that proved quite an ordeal one memorable Christmas about 45 years ago.

In this particular year the weather deteriorated quite quickly as we were en route down channel to the Breaksea and by the time we arrived there it was no mean feat to make the transfer.

In fact only a couple of us made it aboard the Breaksea and the carol service was abandoned half-way through when we were told that if we did not leave promptly the seas could well become too heavy and we might find that we would be spending Christmas on the lightship.

I recalled previously that by the time we got back to Barry I was one of only two people on the pilot cutter (the other was the Pilot himself) who had not been seasick. And if we had been just a few minutes more at sea he would have had that distinction to himself.

Reporters are not known for turning down the opportunity of a free drink too often, but on this occasion not one us could face the refreshments laid on ashore.

What I did not tell you was that after that it became much more difficult for the paper to find volunteers for the annual trip, and I suspect that the eventual automation of the lighthouse was not viewed with a great deal of nostalgia by the reporting staff of the time.

* Malcolm Davies is a former editor of the Penarth Times. More of Mal"s Memories on the Penarth Times web site www.thisispenarth.co.uk

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