The Whitby Rocket Brigade assembled at the Coastguard Station very quickly after Jefferies fired the maroons. Chief Officer Davy, the Coastguard Station Commander was in charge of the apparatus which was designed to fire a rocket carrying a light line over to a stranded ship. Rohilla was within range and no problem was anticipated in getting a line to her. This could then be used to haul a heavy cable from the shore on which people could be rescued by Bosun’s Chair.

They had a special horse drawn cart to transport the cumbersome apparatus and the crew of volunteers, but this was useless on top of a cliff, in the darkness and at the height of a storm so it had to be carried across the uneven course grasses on the clifftop. By 4.45 a.m. they were in position opposite the ship. It was too dark to see but it was possible to locate her because distress rockets were being fire from the bridge. Guided by these they fire off three of their line rockets. They could see from the fiery trail that they all fell short, although they should have covered the distance. To avoid wasting more, Davy decided to wait until it was light enough to climb down on to Saltwick Nab and considerably shorten the range.

The Rocket Brigade

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Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981