GEORGE MOORE LIFEBOAT
The following is an account of the first George Moore Lifeboat. For information about the second George Moore Lifeboat click here.
In 1877, a brand new life boat was sent to Porthdinllaen, arriving there on August 30th. She was a 37ft. x 9ft., 12 oared self-righter, built at a cost of £430 by Woolfe and was provided out of a fund raised by the employees of Messrs Copestake, Hughes, Crampton & Co. (formerly Messrs Copestake, Moore, Crampton & Co.) and, at a ceremony at the lifeboat-house on September 30th that year, the lifeboat was christened GEORGE MOORE, in memory of the employees' late former employer. The service of dedication was, unusually, conducted by the Honorary Secretary of the Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station, the Rev. Owen Lloyd Williams.
The first service to be performed by The GEORGE MOORE took place on March 24th 1878, when, in heavy seas, a northerly gale and frequent snow showers, she was launched to the aid of the schooner Velocity, of Nefyn, homeward bound for Silloth with a cargo of coal and which had begun to drag her anchors in the bay. The lifeboat was launched when the ship's crew had signalled for assistance, the lifeboat saving the three men.
Five days later, the lifeboat was in action again, being called out to the schooner Margaret Ann, of Caernarvon, which had dragged her anchors and run aground in rough seas and a north-easterly gale. Three of the lifeboat-men boarded the vessel and helped the crew of 4 at the pumps, the lifeboat remaining alongside the schooner until she refloated on the rising tide.
At 9.30 p.m. on April 10th 1879, the s.s.Baroi, of Newcastle, sought shelter off Porthdinllaen during a very severe storm, with extremely rough seas and an ESE gale. Her crew put down two anchors, but when the wind suddenly veered to the ENE, whipping up mountainous seas, one of the anchor chains parted and the crew signalled for assistance. The GEORGE MOORE was quickly launched and, after standing by the steamer for two hours, she took off the crew of 6 and brought them ashore. Fortunately, the steamer rode out the storm and so, next morning, the lifeboat was launched again and put the crew back on board their ship.
Late on the evening of May 14th 1879, distress signals were seen coming from a vessel out in Caernarvon Bay, some 7 miles north-west of Porthdinllaen and so, shortly after 11.00 p.m., the GEORGE MOORE was launched. But just as she got away, the lifeboat men saw signals coming from another vessel, closer to the shore and so they went to her assistance first. She was the local schooner Jane Anne, which was found to be dragging her anchors and so the crew of 3 were rescued and landed back at the boat-house. The lifeboat put to sea again straight away, in search of the original casualty, which was found at day-break. She was a barque, which had been unable to get out of the bay without assistance, but a fishing boat had gone to her aid and, as the services of the lifeboat were no longer required, she returned to her station.
When the schooner Weaver, of Caernarvon, ran aground off Llanaelhaiarn on July 7th 1879, the GEORGE MOORE was launched and stood-by her until she was refloated and out of danger.
Nearly a fortnight later,on the 20th, the lifeboat was launched at 7 p.m., to the schooner Adroit, of Aberystwyth, whose crew had signalled for help while at anchor in Porthdinllaen Bay, in heavy seas and a north-westerly gale. At the request of the Master, the lifeboat landed his wife and small son, both of whom were very ill.
When the crew of the smack Menai Packet, of Caernarvon, lost one of their anchors in Porthdinllaen Bay, at about 5 p.m. on November 11th 1879, they signalled for assistance. At the time, the weather was fair, with only a light breeze blowing and so a shore-boat went out. At the Master's request, she returned ashore to obtain another anchor, but by the time that this had been obtained and put aboard the shore-boat, a NNW gale was blowing, churning up heavy seas. The GEORGE MOORE was therefore launched and towed the shore-boat out to the smack, which was then re-moored. As the wind was still increasing in strength, the smack's crew of 3 were taken aboard the lifeboat and brought ashore. Early the following morning, the smack broke adrift and was driven ashore, becoming a total wreck.
At 8 O'clock that same morning, Coxswain Hughes saw signals of distress coming from a schooner in the bay and the GEORGE MOORE, which was still afloat following the service to the smack, was immediately manned and put to sea. The casualty was the Mary Roberts, of Nefyn, which had lost one of her anchors and was riding heavily to the other. The crew of 5 were rescued and landed safely.
In rough seas and a near gale, late on the evening of January 25th 1880, the fishing smacks James and Atkins, both of Liverpool, collided 9 miles north-east of Porthdinllaen and both crews burned distress signals. The GEORGE MOORE was launched and her crew were able to render valuable assistance to both smacks.
In April 1880, Hugh Davies took over as coxswain.
When a gale suddenly sprang up late on the afternoon of August 7th 1880, the crews of four schooners at anchor in the bay, quickly hoisted distress signals and the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 4.30 p.m. First, she went to the Thetis, of Pwllheli, which was found to be taking in water. Two of the lifeboat-men were put aboard, to help at the pumps, while the lifeboat went on to the James, of Nefyn. With the help of the lifeboat-men, she was brought safely into the quay at Porthdinllaen and the lifeboat then went out to the Jane Eliza, also of Nefyn, but her crew declined assistance. The lifeboat went on to the schooner Sarah Jane, of Chester and, at the Master's request, brought ashore his wife, who had been taken ill. Next day the lifeboat went out again to the Thetis and the lifeboat-men were able to render valuable help.
The GEORGE MOORE was launched at 9.30 a.m. on October 28th 1880, to the schooner City of Bangor, of Bangor, which was riding heavily to her anchors in the bay, in rough seas and a north-easterly gale. When the lifeboat reached her, it was found that one of the schooner's anchor-cables had just parted and so, with considerable difficulty, the crew of 4 were rescued and brought ashore. The following day, the lifeboat went out again and her crew helped to re-moor the City of Bangor.
After distress signals had been seen coming from the schooner Queen of the Isles, of Caernarvon, late on the evening of November 14th 1880, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 11.30 p.m. and, in heavy seas and a NNE gale, rescued the crew of 3. When the gale abated the following afternoon, the 3 men re-boarded their ship, but at lunchtime on the 16th, a gale sprang up again and at 1.00 p.m. they signalled for help. The GEORGE MOORE was launched, rescued the 3 men and brought them ashore.
One of the worst storms for many years, struck the coast of North West Wales on January 18th 1881, with a very severe ENE gale whipping up extremely violent seas. It was also bitterly cold, with a severe frost, as the Porthdinllaen lifeboat-men were called out at lunchtime, making their way as quickly as they could across the headland, to the isolated boat-house. At 1.30 p.m. the GEORGE MOORE was launched, to the fishing smack Fishguard Lass, of Abersoch, which was dragging her anchors in the bay. With a great deal of difficulty, the lifeboat got alongside the smack and rescued the crew of 3, the vessel parting her anchor chain shortly afterwards and driving ashore. At 7.30 p.m. that evening, as the storm raged on unabated, the schooner Miss Beck, of Caernarvon, lost both of her anchors and drifted ashore. The lifeboat was launched as quickly as possible, but in the very heavy seas that were running and with the schooner having run aground on a rock known as Carreg Oysters, it proved extremely difficult for the lifeboat to get close to the stranded vessel. It took the lifeboat-men five hours of desperately hard work before they were able to rescue the schooner's crew of 5, the lifeboat being damaged during this rescue, but all returned safely ashore during the early hours of the 19th.
Later that year, on October 14th, when the flat Tal-Y-Fan, of Liverpool, dragged her anchors in Porthdinllaen Bay during a severe WNW gale, with very heavy seas, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 12.30 p.m. and rescued the crew of 4. Shortly afterwards, the brig Pomona, of Dundalk, was seen to be drifting towards the rocks at Borthwen and the lifeboat was launched for the second time that day. But in the terrible seas that were running, she was unable to get round the headland and eventually the brig came ashore and lines were fired out to her. But each time the ropes parted and it was not until a man managed to wade out through the pounding surf and throw a line aboard, that it was possible to haul the crew to safety.
The GEORGE MOORE was launched at 9O'clock on the morning of September 7th 1884, after the crew of the smack Antelope, of Aberystwyth, had burned distress signals while at anchor in the bay. A north-westerly gale was churning up heavy seas, but the lifeboat reached the smack and put 3 men on board, who helped the crew of 2 to bring the vessel to a safer anchorage in the bay.
When the schooner Richard, of Nefyn, began dragging her anchors in Porthdinllaen Bay, where she had sought shelter from a storm on March 27th 1885, whilst on passage, in ballast, from the Isles of Scilly to Caernarvon, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 8.00 a.m. and rescued the crew of 4, landing them at the boathouse at 9.30 a.m.
On January 8th 1886, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 8.00 a.m., after the crew of 4 on the smack Valiant, of Caernarvon, had signalled for assistance. A NNW gale was blowing, with heavy seas and the smack's Master asked for assistance to get his vessel to safety. One of the lifeboat-men boarded the smack and, escorted by the lifeboat, he piloted her to safe anchorage. Shortly after the lifeboat had returned to her boat-house, another smack, the Trio, of Caernarvon, which also had a crew of 4, was seen to be in distress and so the lifeboat went out again, put 3 men on board and she too was taken to a safe anchorage.
In heavy seas and a northerly gale on November 6th 1886, the flat Llysfaen, of Liverpool, began to drag her anchors in Porthdinllaen Bay and the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 9.45 a.m. She stood by the boat at the Master's request, but when the flat began taking in water, the anchor was shipped and the boat run ashore, the lifeboat rescuing the crew of 3 shortly before the boat sank.
Six weeks later, on December 22nd, during another fierce storm, with heavy seas and a north-westerly gale, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 5.30 p.m. and rescued the crew of 4 from the schooner Industry, of Aberystwyth, which had got into difficulties on passage from Strangford Lough to Portmadoc.
On the morning of January 20th 1887, the steam yacht Vixen, of Beaumaris, was sighted drifting in Caernarvon Bay and the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 11.30 a.m. The lifeboat-men found that the yacht had been abandoned and so some of them went on board and, with a great deal of difficulty, as the yacht had lost her rudder, succeeded in taking her safely to Porthdinllaen Bay. It was later learned that the yacht's crew had been rescued earlier by a passing ship and they were put ashore at Hoyhead.
When the schooner John and Robert, of Nefyn, was seen to be in distress, 3 miles north-west of Porthdinllaen, early on the morning of May 20th 1887, having lost all her sails in a fierce NNW gale, the GEORGE MOORE was launched at 5.30 a.m. and rescued the crew of 4.
The above information was taken from 'The History of the Porthdinllaen Lifeboats' written and produced by Jeff Morris. I should like to thank Tom Morris, former crew member at Porthdinllaen, for giving me a copy of this book and giving permission for me to print these extracts. Also, thanks to Stephen Hoyle, webmaster of the Porthdinllaen Lifeboat website, for mailing the booklet to me.