Coastguard Cutter

The Coastguard Cutter 2.5

-> Tony on November 05 2014
The Coastguard Cutter 2.5
November / December 2014. Issue 5.

F49.The Crimean War.
During the war, 3,000 men of the Coastguard were drafted to the fleet. The Revenue Cruisers were sent to intercept the enemies shipping in the channel and in this they were remarkably successful. Parliament was told in 1856 that the cruisers had captured eleven vessels and that eight had been condemned. The vacant places in the Coastguard were filled by pensioners and ‘extra men’. These were civilians engaged for temporary service- a practice which had grown up over many years when men were absent from stations because of illness or other duties.
When the war was over and the Coastguard Act was being debated in Parliament, in 1856, it was stated that the Coastguard might have been more useful than they were if sufficient attention had been paid to rendering the service efficient in all its branches. The Lieutenants appointed to the Coastguard had grown old in the service and many had become utterly incapable of performing any active duty.
The Admiralty spokesman declared that the men had been good seamen but were too long in the Coastguard service without naval refresher courses. They proposed to pension off the older men and replace them.
Admiral Sir Charles Napier said, in the debate, that the men of the Coastguard who served in his flagship were bald-headed and needed spectacles for reading but "they were a fine example to the young men sent to sea without proper training and were the steadiest men in the service". The successes of the Revenue Cruisers in intercepting Russian ships in the Channel was due to information supplied by British Ambassadors and consular officials in neutral countries.
On 21st.April 1854 a message was sent to Coastguard H.Q. from the ‘Argus’ Revenue Cruiser, Spithead:
“Having during last night guarded the eastern entrance of the Wight with this steamer and a boat at a suspected spot inside: and nothing suspicious seen, I steamed out after daylight to the offing in search of smuggling craft, and to examine vessels likely to have on board contraband stores of war. At noon after examining several vessels, I boarded the Russian barque ‘Froija’ of Lisbon bound for the Baltic laden with salt; and I have detained her and towed her to this port”. J.S.W.Grandy, Commander.
The ‘Froija’ was condemned and sold with her cargo for £3,144 15s.0d. Four days later there were more captures etc.
Reference; “Shipminder” The Story of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, by Bernard Scarlett. P65 & 66.

E184. Gallant Capture of a French Smuggler. 1854 Co.Dublin.
On Saturday last Her Majesty's Revenue cutter, Racer, Mr.W.Daish, Commander, chased and captured in the Channel the French smuggling cutter La Flore, with a crew of 7 Frenchmen and one Englishman and towed her into Kingstown Harbour. During the chase the smugglers threw her cargo overboard; but from all circumstances connected with the vessel there can be no doubt of her condemnation.
Reference; Daily Express 23rd.May 1854.

H75. Coastguard Pay.
The boatmen of the Coast-guard service in this country, continue under the grevious disadvantage of being paid in the Irish Currency, to which, we believe, no other branch of the civil or military establishments in either country is subject. And what illustrates further the glaring injustice of this anomaly, is the fact of the coast-guard officers being themselves paid in the full imperial currency.
Reference; Morning Register 21st.August 1840.

While radio communication was being developed in the 1890s, merchant and naval ships still depended on visual signalling. Coastguards were expected to read/send 18 words per minute with semaphore flags and ten with a flashing lamp, the new acetylene fuel extended visibility to 12 miles. By the First World War telephone lines linked coastal stations and coastguards were operating wireless with ranges from 100 to 1,000 miles.

Minor offences committed by coastguards were met with the following punishments.
A; confinement to quarters when not on duty.
B; extra duty or reprimand.
C; Fined. Fines were appropriated to the support of the compassionate fund.

Serious offences such as drunkeness, sleeping on board, absence from guard, absence without leave. Normally the punishment issued for such

offences were.
A; deprivation of good conduct badges.
B; reduction in pay,
C; stoppage of pay.

But offences of a grave nature ie; working with smugglers resulted in,
A; discharge from coastguard service,
B; imprisonment,
C; removal to another station.
Reference; ADM 120 / 227.

G227. Coastguard Accident 1845 Co.Cork
On Wednesday morning the body of Robert Ary, a boatman in the Coastguard at Ballycotton was found on the shore with his head frightfully fractured. It is supposed that he must have been blown off a high cliff while on duty the preceding night, which was very dark and tempestuous. He has left a wife and eight small children. (Cork Constitution)
Reference; Saunders News-Letter Tuesday 13th.May 1845.

E132. The Dash of Weymouth
The Dash of Weymouth, from Sligo to Liverpool, Mace master, laden with butter, was cast ashore about 3 o'clock on Sunday morning, the cargo and vessel damaged, 8 souls have perished, 3 of whom are sons of the Coastguard who chanced to be on board at the time. The captain was preserved by coming ashore on hour before the hurricane, and could not return on board afterwards. The vessel is a schooner about 100 tons burthen, named Dash of Weymouth, and bound from Sligo to London. The cargo and hull are as yet safe. Two of the hands were found clinging to and entwined with the shrouds and died, not (it is supposed) by drowning, but of cold and fatigue - of the other 6, no traces as yet have been found, though the vessel is ashore on a beach where persons wade as far as her on foot, at low tide.
Sufficient praise cannot be given to Mr.Cary, Chief Officer of the Coastguard for his unwearied exertions for the preservation of the hull and cargo. (Galway Free Press)
Reference; Evening Freeman Tuesday 10th.December 1833.

E12. INISHMURRAY Island, Co.Donegal.
Inishmurray was infamous for poteen making. There being no natural embarkation point for access to the Island, and no easy landings, visits by the Authorities were few. This enabled the undisturbed islanders to to distil the best illicit whiskey in the County, marketed as "Old Inismurray". When the Revenue Officers did come they had to hire boats locally and word would escape. Then, in the absence of any truly sheltered landing spot, it seems it was always necessary for the local boatman to circle the Island, looking for the easiest landing place. The illicit brew was normally well hidden by the time anyone got ashore.

E13. RESCUE at Co. Down
A fox at Newcastle, Co.Down, owed its life to the vigilance of District Officer A.Booth. He found that it was held fast to a rock by its tongue which had been trapped under a limpet shell. Apparently the fox had tried to get at the limpet which had lifted its shell. He poked in his tongue but the limpet clamped down tightly on the rock and trapped the fox by its tongue.
Reference; "Coastguard" by William Webb.

G207. WRECK 1838 Co.Waterford
The barque ‘Comalla’ of Glasgow, Donald M’Neill master, bound for Liverpool from Singapore, laden with the usual cargo from that country, coffee, sago etc. was lost near the entrance of Dungarvan on Wednesday. The crew, 13 in all, with three Kinsale fishermen, who had boarded the vessel some time before, were providentially rescued by the humane exertions of several persons who witnessed the melancholy scene. In these exertions the Coastguards were eminently useful; they dragged the crew through a violent surf to a place of safety. Having fallen on a ridge of rocks under Ballinacourty, the vessel went to pieces before the next morning and the cargo was strewed along the shore.
Reference; Saunders News-Letter Monday 3rd. December 1838.

E194. Water tanks.
In many areas where a well or pumped water was not available large concrete water-tanks were installed at the rear of the Coastguard houses. Roof water was piped down to the tanks. For table use such water was filtered through charcoal filters. The quality of this water could change from time to time, wind blown dust and detritis, bird-droppings etc. Light-house keepers suffered also in their wind-swept salt sprayed areas. After storms salt would dry out on the roof tiles and render the water un-usable. Some keepers would close off tank inlet till a shower of rain had washed the salt away and then re-open it for the cleaner water to enter. Failure to do this would result in a tank full of undrinkable saline water.

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