We took a short break before the holiday season hits, at Port-Louis, in Brittany. It is just across the water from Lorient, which port was so named (I learnt) because it was the departure point for ships owned by the East India Company, that were heading towards, well, the orient. The Google Maps picture below shows the general area and includes the fort at the end of the penninsula that houses the museum of sea rescue.
Even today rescue at sea is a dangerous activity, despite the availability of rescue helicopters and other hi-tech that we take for granted. The Penlee Lifeboat Disaster was not that long ago, and I remember that the national response in terms of charitable donations for the bereaved families generated so much money that Mrs Thatcher had to intervene personally to keep the Inland Revenue away from the beneficiaries.
The French equivalent of the RNLI is the SNSM (Societé Nationale des Sauveteurs en Mer) and the museum is dedicated to them, and shows how the techniques and equipment available for sea rescue have changed over the years. I still find it impressive that people are prepared to go out in such dangerous conditions to rescue other human beings. The first picture below shows a lifeboat powered by oarsmen and a sail. Is that a scary idea or what?
We both spent some years as active and enthusiastic windsurfers. Even though one takes every precaution, accidents can happen so I was always reassured to know that, at least in UK coastal waters, the RNLI was there in case it all went horribly pear-shaped. They are funded purely by charitable donations (not a fake charity) and they get my contributions every time.