My submission for one of the prompts given at this week’s Inspiration Monday site (haunted word) is a piece of ‘faction’, dedicated to marking the first anniversary of the demise of the Irish trawler ‘Tit Bonhomme’ which foundered in the early hours of the morning on the rocks at Adam Island, west of Cork, Ireland, on January 15th 2012. Returning home under poor weather conditions, she was wrecked at the mouth of Glandore Bay as she tried to make for the port at Union Hall. The crew had consisted of 3 men of Egyptian nationality, the Irish captain, and a 21 year old Irishman who had joined the fishing trip because he was interested in taking up a life at sea.
This event was probably under-reported, because of the overwhelming coverage of another disaster at sea a couple of days earlier – the sinking of the Costa Concordia.
“At least they were almost home,” muttered one of the older women standing on the quay, looking out across the greasy rolling waters.
“And does that make it any better?” snapped a younger one, retrieving her headscarf which was flapping wildly behind her in the strong south-easterly gale.
The woman turned to look at her.
“There’ll be bodies to be found,” she said quietly, “and sooner rather than later so yes, that will make it better.”
Another rescue boat headed past them out of the harbour, pitching and rolling towards the Adam and Eve rocks outside the entrance. Yet another search for survivors, but as the hands of the church clock inched inexorably round, it was clear to all but those crazed with anxiety on the quayside that their venture would shortly officially translate into a search for bodies.
And for the crew of the lifeboat, it had been exactly that since a pale dawn had crept over the horizon. They were men who knew these waters. One survivor, sucked from the wheelhouse it seemed, had been plucked from the rocks; he’d been unconscious, so there was, as yet no way of knowing whether others (thought to have been asleep below decks) had been consigned to the sea, or if they had been able to scramble clear of the boat when it hit the reef close to the harbour entrance.
Later that morning, at low tide, the wheelhouse of the boat could be seen wedged on the rocks near the harbour entrance, but access to what lay below in 12 metres of water was impossible. Almost wilfully it seemed, the sea rose and fell over the wreckage, creating dangerous eddies that could snatch up anything in their way, to be tossed playfully this way and that before being sucked down out of sight.
The rescue services watched in frustration for days as rough seas hampered their efforts to send divers to the wreck, and friends and families waited on the quayside.
It would be a further 26 days before the sea gave up all its dead, the last body being washed up further along the coast, almost as though the malevolent currents wanted to underline the power they were able to harness. During that period, hundreds of volunteers had combed the coastline, in addition to 90 or so divers who continued to search the wreck and surrounding waters.
And for all of those with friends and families who take their living from the seas, the word ‘shipwreck’ must continue to haunt their every waking moment.