The last time they embarked on this crossing, it was a lot less peaceful.
For the second time in history, dozens of the famous “Little Ships” have left Ramsgate on the south-east coast of England.
They are marking the 70th anniversary of their Second World War mercy mission – when they plucked 340 thousand British soldiers to safety from the German-surrounded beaches of Dunkirk in France.
Strafed by enemy aircraft at the time, their only company today is a Royal Navy gunship.
“It wasn’t until we got close, half-way across, that we could see that Germans were bombing and one thing and another and then we knew there was something big on, it frightened the life out of me. I mean, I said to myself, what have I let myself in for? But anyway, I got used to it.” was how one veteran sailor described his reaction to the emergency.
The flotilla of mainly pleasure-craft played a vital role in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk.
Hundreds of ships, both civilian and military, were involved in the heroic rescue against the odds, which gave the english language the phrase “Dunkirk Spirit”.
Veterans are also making the journey for a service of remembrance.