Stormy Weather

Photo of the lifeboat returning after the rescue of the shipwrecked saluto in 1911. Fishermen watch from their boats in Newlyn Harbour and a policeman and spectators crowd the Pier. Source K Mildren

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the tragedy of the Solomon Browne Lifeboat with a flotilla of lifeboats in a procession of sail to Penlee Point on Monday 30th August. This was one of many occasions when the lifeboat and its men risked everything to save a boat in distress.

On the morning of December 11 1911, during one of the worst storms on record, a Norwegian barge, the Saluto, was blown ashore near Porthleven. By this time, the lifeboat was stationed at Newlyn. William Kliskey was one of the crew of the lifeboat. On that Monday in December he was working on the old coal hulk Crete moored in the middle of Newlyn harbour. When the rocket went up to call the lifeboat crew, he was unable to leave the coal hulk. His son William, knowing that his dad was stuck on the coal hulk and that many of the Newlyn fishing boats were at sea, ran to the lifeboat house to offer his help. William was only 17 but he had worked on Captain Blewett’s fishing boat for several years and was an able sailor.

Desperation made the coxswain accept young William’s offer and one of the crew helped to strap on his lifejacket. After four or five trips all the ship’s crew were taken off the Saluto. When the lifeboat returned, a great welcome awaited them at Newlyn, with the Salvation Army Band playing music. No doubt the shipwrecked sailors also received a warm welcome at the new Ship Institute.

William’s story is told in some detail by his brother in a new book by Pam Lomax ‘Newlyn when the Artists Came’. You can purchase a copy using the attached order form.

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