Reflections on a Run

Image courtesy of Cliff, Trawler Pictures

The other day I went for a run up St. Bees headland and over to the neighbouring Fleswick Bay. On my return, I had the fortune to witness the lifeboat being launched from the beach. It was a striking sight, as I paused and stepped off the coastal path which overlooks the sand and rock platforms.

The tractor reversed the trailer with lifeboat and crew aboard into the surf. My gaze was first drawn to the tractor; the incoming waves steadily buffeted it, higher and higher as it progressed into the tide. I felt slightly anxious that the weight of the water might overwhelm it and knock it off course. However, it remain steadfast, immovable in the face of the mighty sea, which on this occasion was fairly clement.

My eye then turned to the trailer. It was effectively a cage in which the lifeboat nestled until the depth of water was sufficient for the boat to be released. The trailer was at the same time protection and a prison for the boat; whilst on land it held the lifeboat back from its natural environment and purpose, and yet without it the boat would be grounded and rendered useless.

Lastly, there was the lifeboat itself. It waited patiently, perched within its steel cage, ready to be unleashed. After what seemed a long time, when I began to wonder how deep the tractor would venture, the bright orange hull nosed out slowly. Then the throttle was opened and it sprung forwards over the swell, lunging skywards, straining towards the setting sun on the horizon.

Ultimately, I was just struck by the bravery and commitment of the men who were huddled in the craft. They derived an element of security from each part of the scene – the specialist tractor, the cage of the trailer and the lifeboat itself. However, once released into the open sea most of their security would be stripped away. They faced a vast, deep and powerful body of water that punishes impartially anything  in its way in bad weather.

I watched the boat leaping over the waves and then turned and ran back home. I looked over my shoulder a few more times, reluctant to leave the scene – the sunset was a dramatic one too. However, I felt inspired by nature and how men venture out into it; it is both frightening and heart-lifting at the same time.

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