Saturday 8 October 2011

Costa da Morte

Just back from the beautiful coast of Galicia in north-west Spain.  Below you can see me at the memorial to the many ships wrecked off the ominously named Costa da Morte.   It got its name in 1890 when a Royal Navy torpedo cruiser, HMS Serpent, came to grief here.

She was en route from Plymouth to Sierra Leone on November 10, 1890 when in fog and drizzle, she lost her way.   Then a fierce storm broke and the ship was dashed against the treacherous rocks, though at first the crew seemed to think they had just been hit by a very powerful wave, and there was a delay in closing watertight doors.

Just three survivors from the crew of 175 managed to reach the shore and sound the alarm in a nearby village.   A search party went out but was able to find only bodies.    The British government later sent letters of thanks to local people, and the mayor was presented with a shotgun and the parish priest a gold watch.

It is said that the survivors owed their lives to wearing lifebelts, which was unusual at the time, and that the incident led to their being used much more widely.

Pic by Anne Clements.  See her other lovely work

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