Salcombe Maritime Museum

The little town of Salcombe at the southern tip of Devon has a smashing, packed little community museum that’s open from 10.30am-12.30pm from April to October – it’s definitely worth a trip, as it’s full of great exhibits about shipping, boatbuilding, fishing and pleasure boating.

One of the many things I learned was that Tennyson wrote his iconic poem Crossing the Bar in 1889 after arriving at Salcombe in a very impressive and comfortable looking steam yacht.

I wonder what the bar looked like that day, and what stories he heard about it. That bar has a history: just a generation after Tennyson wrote his poem in 1916 the town experienced a terrible lifeboat disaster in which 13 crewmen drowned.

If you can take a dinghy down for a sail or a motor on the lovely estuary, I recommend that too…

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Alastair Brian Atkin crosses the bar

Alastair Brian Atkin 1930-2010

My father Alastair Brian Atkin – here pictured with his cousin Jean at the fishing village of Chapel St Leonards, Lincolnshire in about 1933-4. The sand hills in the background have long gone

My dear father Alastair Brian Atkin MBE – Brian to many and Alastair to a few – sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago, and I found this photo of him in a fishing boat rigged for sailing at Chapel St Leonards while researching for a speech I was asked to give at a service to give thanks for his life.

Does anyone know anything about this boat please? Is there a story to tell?

Dad knew good times and bad, but in the end I think he had a happy and successful life. He also introduced me to the sea and boating, traditional music and social history – so I have much to thank him for. After the turmoil of the past little while, I went for a long planned couple of days sailing with a friend this past weekend – and I must say that I’m greatly saddened to be unable to tell my father about it.

I should add that Dad was a great fan of Tennyson, a poet closely associated with his home county of Lincolnshire, so it seems appropriate to bring out a poem that’s often quoted at times like these – Crossing the Bar.

Crossing the Bar

SUNSET and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness or farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.