All at Sea

Image for All at SeaNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Coast, Series 8 Episode 6 of 6

Duration: 1 hour

The Coast team are all at sea, as they head offshore to explore surprising stories of love and death, cannibalism and communist submarines, seasickness and a seafaring prince.

Nick Crane attempts one of the world's most fearsome yachting challenges, the Isle of Wight 'Round the Island Race'. Novice sailor Nick is plunged in at the deep end of the competition and his boat suffers near capsize in a gruelling test of his seamanship. Will Nick even manage to finish, as 1,500 boats battle to avoid wrecks, reefs and rip tides? To complete his circumnavigation of the Isle, Nick must learn how a sailing boat can achieve the seemingly impossible and make progress against the oncoming wind.

Preparing for the race Nick also learns how sailing on the Isle of Wight gained the royal seal of approval when Queen Victoria said it was impossible to imagine a prettier spot. After the queen built Osborne House as a summer retreat on the Isle, her son the Prince of Wales became commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron at the island's sailing capital, Cowes.

Mark Horton relives a gruesome tale of cannibalism and murder that scandalised Victorian Britain and still affects the law today. In 1884, a yacht, The Mignonette, sank 600 miles from land. Lost at sea in a small lifeboat, the wrecked crew killed the cabin boy and drank his blood to survive. Miraculously the men were eventually saved, and surprisingly they fully expected to walk free after confessing their crime. The 'custom of the sea' condoned cannibalism as a last resort but the 'law of the land' said otherwise. The trial of the self-confessed cannibals captivated the nation. But would their extraordinary defence that, as seafarers, they had a 'necessity to murder' convince the jury and save them from the noose?

In Milford Haven, Ruth Goodman celebrates unsung heroes who arrived from distant shores. When Hitler invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Dutch fishermen escaped in their boats, crossing the North Sea to help defend Britain. How did the Dutch seamen adapt their fishing skills to clear German mines laid in the seas around British ports? Minesweeping was a deadly job, the fishermen had to learn fast or die trying, but they also made happier catches. Ruth explores the romantic entanglements which, against a backdrop of danger, led to many marriages between Dutch men and Welsh women.

Naval historian Nick Hewitt searches out the remarkable remains of the submarines that threatened to sink Britain by strangling its sea trade. Why does a First World War German U-boat, its hull astonishingly intact, lie hidden in the mud of the Medway estuary, so close to London? And what is the story behind the Soviet sub which Nick discovers nearby? Its hull reveals what life was like for Russian submariners, preparing for the day when Britain's Cold War would turn hot.

And one hardy bunch of sea-anglers, who all hail from Zimbabwe, find that a life on the ocean wave isn't all it's cracked up to be when they chance their hand with rod and line in the rolling seas off the coast of Yorkshire. As they battle sea-sickness on their annual day-trip from Whitby, they find themselves, once again, all at sea.

Last on

More episodes

Credits

Presenter
Nicholas Crane
Presenter
Ruth Goodman
Presenter
Nick Hewitt
Presenter
Mark Horton
Series Editor
Steve Evanson
Executive Producer
William Lyons

Broadcasts

Meet the team

Coast ream lineup

Viking Fire festivals and the UK's oldest puffin: the Coast team can investigate anything

Buy online

Available on: DVD

From suppliers including: BBC Shop

Where to buy

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss