Monday, 15 January 2007


Not infrequently I have been asked by others just why I choose to volunteer with the RNLI. To this particular question there is no simple answer. However, whilst I do personally feel the 'Call of the Sea' strongly, and of course feel motivated to serve out of a sense of duty to fellow seafarers, there are also selfish reasons mixed in. I work in an environment where I have a disproportionately large number of female colleagues. It is a very sensitive and caring place. And just sometimes I have an urge to be in a somewhat more, dare I say it, masculine environment (excuse me Becky and Jo!) The sort of place where one can say what is on ones mind. Where things can't be left for others to do or until later when you feel like it. If you cock something up you are told so. And then of course there is everything that the RNLI does for us volunteers........

The delightful Tom (raconteur of impossibly filthy stories and charter boat fleet manager/owner) is shortly to embark on a Search and Rescue Navigators course (NAVSAR). He is understandably nervous about this. Without doubt Tom's preferred style of navigating is 'seat of the pants', 'back of a fag packet' and done using the 'MKI eyeball'. However, he is being given a wonderful chance by the RNLI to learn new skills in what I consider to be the best possible learning environment, the new lifeboat college.

In preparation Dave and I have been spending time running Tom through the fundamentals of paper based navigation. He is of course an easy student as he already speaks the language of the sea. Nevertheless, he was this afternoon struggling with the principles of converting Compass courses to True and vice-versa. I tried my best to help but fear that I just muddled him more with my talk of CADETs and True Virgins..........The glazed look gave me my cue to cease my efforts to persuade him that all this was worthwhile and helpful.

To add to his burdens in life Tom is also this weeks ILB helmsman and there is an exercise on Wednesday with an Assessor! Good luck lad.

With our nets and gear we're fairing,
On the wild and wasteful ocean,
It's there on the deep, that we harvest and reap our bread.
As we hunt the bonny shoals of Herring.

Ewan McColl

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