Operation Dynamo Celebrated

Operation Dynamo also known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk” saw a flotilla of 700 little ships cross the Channel to rescue over eight days 192,000 British and 139,000 French troops trapped on the beaches there in 1940.  The film “Dunkirk” with Sir John Mills has always been one of my favourite movies that never fails to make me shed a tear or two of pride over that wartime achievement.

So today, 77 long years afterwards, in respectful homage to those brave seaman and rescued troops, Debbie & I decided to hire a small day boat from Brecon canal basin for 2 hours along the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal.  Not exactly as arduous an expedition as for the folks in 1940, but given our track record of “Nutbrown” together, still quite a brave undertaking…

We left Llanfoist at 11am and despite going as slowly as possible down the Brecon Road savouring the views of the Brecon Beacons we arrived way too early.

Obligatory selfie in our drive should the boat be lost with “all hands” – Debbie’s strained expression is the result of this explanation as I took the photo
Parking up outside the Brecon Theatre we spoke to Dave at Dragonfly boat hire & luckily he allowed us an extra 30 minutes before the original noon start I’d booked the day before.

“Ruby Rose” – Dave took the front canopy down for us as the weather was gorgeous

Dave used to work for Blaenau Gwent council, but for some reason called it “Blaenau Bent”!

Captain Shores with his “first mate” ahem…
After a rather brief safety briefing (we declined lifejackets as the depth of the canal is apparently only 2-3 feet) & signing my life away we headed off at a steady 2 knots with the 8 horsepower outboard barely at tick-over!

Rather worryingly we’re on Vodafone with zero signal in Brecon as Paul Gunstone found out!

Full steam ahead – at 2 knots!

First bridge…

Second selfie of the day…

First tunnel under the A40 – narrow and long!
After we emerged into the sunlight again I spotted a heron and Debbie managed to take this photo before it disappeared for fresh fishing grounds!

Interesting photoshop feature 😇 

Debbie trying to hide the small bottle of vin rouge she is about to pour into 2 glasses – thankfully don’t drink and drive doesn’t seem to count when afloat – but she still felt guilty!
Fortified with some bubbles and the odd quaff we finally approach the turnaround point in front of the lock, this is where the fun and games started as I tried to turn the boat around before mooring for our picnic.  Fortunately there was no-one around to watch my increasingly desperate attempt to avoid ramming another boat moored on the bank but “all’s well that ends well” and we finally by some miracle made it without a single (hard) knock…

Finally moored up after a 30 point turn…

Relaxed picnic in the sun

Brynich lock‘s seat of all learning showed us our progress

A narrow boat from Goytre Wharf exiting the lock behind us

Dragonfly’s narrow boat looked rather warm as many windows couldn’t be opened

Lady Shores looking relaxed at the helm

Pen y Fan on the right which we climbed last year
After finishing our picnic we made our way back to the basin, with Debbie taking over for just enough time for me to take the following picture of Pen y Fan in the distance.  Shortly afterwards a low flying Apache helicopter buzzed us overhead on it’s way to some special forces exercise no doubt.

After another half hour or so we arrived back to Dave at the starting position about 15 minutes late but somewhat miraculously I executed a perfect left turn and gently moored alongside the wharf from where we’d departed just short of 3 hours previously.  Great value for money for just £30 and highly recommended, especially on a warm sunny day.

Going back to the Dunkirk theme as our adventure finally came to an end I was put in mind of a speech made on the 4th June 1940 by Churchill made in the House of Commons.  “We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender …”

Hopefully history won’t repeat itself with Brexit


Operation Dynamo Celebrated

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