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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Hope at Hope

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas OCTOBER. 13, 2020

[69-365] 13th. October 2020- After so much doom and gloom media coverage of yet more lockdowns and yesterdays announcements we decided to seek some hope today. So we went to Hope Cove only to find hope right there on the horizon staring back at us. If I believed in omens etc. I would be feeling quite positive about the future after seeing this, but even not believing in omens etc. it's difficult not to be buoyed up by a rainbow wherever they appear.

Hope Cove is a small seaside village within the civil parish of South Huish in South Hams District, Devon, England. It has two beaches, and is sheltered by the headland of Bolt Tail. The name Hope Cove may derive tautologically from the Old Norse word hóp meaning "bay" or "small inlet". Historically, the village falls into two parts, Outer Hope to the north and Inner Hope to the south. Both parts of the village originally developed as a centre for the local fishing industry. Hope Cove also developed a reputation for smuggling and for plundering wrecked ships.

In 1588 the ships of the Spanish Armada passed the village as they moved up the English Channel. After the Armada was defeated and headed back through storms, the San Pedro el Mayor, a transport ship fitted out as a hospital, was blown onto the rocks between Inner and Outer Hope. The 140 survivors were initially sentenced to death, but were eventually ransomed and sent back to Spain.

The sight of a ship foundering, would bring the nearby population to the beach, and before long, using pick-axes and hatchets the ship would be dismembered and any goods on it, carried away.

The law in those days deemed it illegal to claim salvage from a wrecked ship if anyone was alive on it. Therefore, the law virtually condemned any survivors found, to death! There are legends that lights would be tied to horses tails in order to lure the ships onto the rocks. This was a rare occurrence as it was found more successful to light the beacons on the shore and then hopefully the ship would founder.

This one hasn't foundered yet but has definitely been pulled up out of harm's way and sealed against the elements. Who's to say if it will survive the tempests ahead.

Is it me or is Hitler winking at me?

During February 1914 the Jane Rowe loaded up in Oran with three thousand tons of burnt ore was bound for Rotterdam. In the early morning of the 28 February, the Jane Rowe, surrounded by dense fog ‘somewhere off Salcombe’ ran gently aground on the only sandy bit of beach for miles around, about a mile and a half east of Bolt Tail. Shortly after dawn the wreck was sighted by the Kingsbridge Packet, a small steamer that plied between Plymouth and Salcombe. She closed the grounded steamer and passed her a tow but in the end could not budge her, and left to summon some tugs. Meanwhile a pair of early morning rabbit catchers had seen the wreck and notified the Coastguard who launched the lifeboat from Hope Cove.

However when they arrived there was very little they could do except wait until the tugs arrived about three hours later. Whilst the lifeboat stood by, five tugs tried until half past nine at night to refloat the Jane Rowe, but to no avail. When the lifeboat and the tugs returned the next morning they found that the tide had pushed the stricken vessel further up the sandy beach, and that she was now lying broadside at the base of the cliffs.

The weather had by now changed for the worse, and huge waves were breaking right over the ship, pounding the hull up and down on the beach. As the day wore on the Jane Rowe started to develop some serious leaks and it became clear that she was not going to survive. Since the lifeboat could not get close enough to the vessel to take the crew off and the crew steadfastly refused to jump into the huge surf and swim to the lifeboat, the rocket brigade was sent for. A line was fired from the top of the cliffs and secured high up in the Jane Rowes foremast, and a breeches buoy was swiftly rigged. Eventually all the crew were safely pulled off the wreck, including the ships kitten, a cat, and lastly a very large dog that nearly did for the crewmember struggling to save him. After a while, the Jane Rowe, now a total loss began to break up and by the time the year 1933 came along she had all but disappeared, with only her boilers left to mark her going.

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