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Trail Stop No 8 - 1950s:
H.M.S. Wave runs aground off Westcotts Quay

At 5.21am on  30th September, 1952, the starboard anchor chain of H.M.S. Wave broke as the vessel sheltered from a force 9 wind. At 5.30am the coastguard telephoned that H.M.S. Wave, a minesweeper, was driving ashore at Porthminster beach, St. Ives Bay, and that the coastguard shore life-saving team had been called out. The life-boatmen assembled at 5.39am in an east-north-east gale with a moderate sea, and got the life-boat ready for launching, but the Wave ran on Pednolver rocks at the entrance to St. Ives harbour. The tide was ebbing, but her crew of ninety-eight were in no immediate danger, and the life-boat was kept on her slipway, in case she should be needed on the next tide.


At 6.15 a line was fired towards the ship in preparation for a rescue. The Wave's crew connected wires from the ship to the pier, and the life-boatmen helped them, using the life-boat's gear and tractor. Cables were run to the pier to try to stabilise the ship but these quickly snapped.  There was no way that the vessel could be refloated so at 12.30pm the ship's captain gave the order for 62 crewmen to be evacuated via breeches buoy with 36 men remaining on board to maintain essential services. It took around 100 townspeople to haul the line to keep it taut whilst the rescue took place and the last man came ashore at 4.30pm. 

The following day the weather had calmed, but Wave remained stuck on the rocks, despite a large quantity of equipment being removed from the ship. A boom defence vessel was despatched from Plymouth and arrived in pitch darkness. St. Ives pilot Richard Paynter clambered up the hull of this vessel and successfully navigated her into position.  At this point H.M.S. Wave was pulled far enough out to reveal a substantial hole in the hull. This was large enough for a flotation balloon to be inserted and inflated, and then towed by two boom defence vessels the ship was refloated successfully and moored to the pier to enable more substantial repairs to be undertaken. On 7th October the Wave was able to return to Devonport dockyard.

In September 2014, largely thanks to the efforts of local man Paul Moran, a plaque was unveiled at Westcotts Quay to commemorate the event. The ceremony was attended by 6 of those who were on the ship and many who had been watching from the shore or hauling on the lines. Brian Sandom, who was on board, said: "We didn't realise how serious it was at the time. "I was 20 years old and didn't have much fear. But when we came on deck it was horrendous, a really bad storm. "It was a really wonderful rescue. We were so grateful." Richard Daniel Paynter, received the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for his efforts in the rescue.

HMS Wave aground on the rocks

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A view of the vessel aground

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Offloading equipment to try to refloat the vessel


The plaque erected at St. Ives Arts Centre to commemorate the event

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