Sunday, 26 February 2012

On the beach

It has been pointed out to me that this Blog has gone silent for a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd better post something.

I've been going through some old slides of my father's and transferring them onto the computer, and I came across a series of shots of the MS Athina B which ran aground on Brighton beach on January 21st 1980. Along with thousands of others, including myself, my father grabbed his 35mm camera and headed off to the seafront to take photographs of the grounded ship.

The Wikipedia entry for the event reads thus:
The Athina B left the Azores on 11 December 1979 laden with 3,000 tonnes of pumice. Her destination was Shoreham-by-Sea. During the voyage, she had problems with her generator, gyro compass and radar, and put in to La Rochelle in France for repairs. On arrival at Shoreham on 20 January, force 7 or 8 winds meant she was unable to enter harbour. This was not helped by a loss of power from the engines, and a Mayday call was issued. The Shoreham Lifeboat Dorothy and Philip Constance took off half the crew and the captain's family, with the rest being rescued on the morning of 21 January. A total of four attempts were needed to rescue all those on board. The ship drifted eastwards and eventually ran aground to the east of the Palace Pier. The ship broke her back and was declared a write-off.

In a cupboard I have, in an old shaving stick container, some of that pumice cargo, labelled for posterity. I also have some photos which I took the following stormy weekend showing waves crashing over the side of the ship as it lay at an angle on the beach. My father obviously walked along the Palace Pier (now re-named Brighton Pier) and took this shot which shows just how close the boat came to demolishing that structure.

It was all rather fun while it lasted.

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