Tuesday, 24 July 2007

To the Lifeboat, boys!

"Only two sailors, in my experience, never ran aground. One never left port and the other was an atrocious liar."-Don Bamford

I'm told that in the olden days, maroons were fired to summon the crew should the boat be required. For sure we have crew still serving that can remember when the quickest way to spread the word was by phone.

But when I joined we used pagers, and they remain the chosen method. The first pager I had was capable of two things - a very loud shriek followed by an incoherent noise like that of an untuned radio. This was because the pager 'listened' to VHF channel zero and if you were really really lucky you could hear someone saying something about a lifeboat as you ran down the road.

Our current pagers are also triggered by radio, broadcast from our boathouse. This system can be intitiated from Portland Coastguard, from in the boathouse itself or by phone if you know the necessary incantation. The signal transmitted from the boathouse is not only received by our pagers, but also by an aerial on Nine Barrow Down. From here it is re-transmitted, thus ensuring excellent coverage around town. Another advancement is that the pagers can now display text messages, not just bleeps. So now the same system used to summon the crew for a shout is also used to let us know that the next exercise is on Thursday afternoon.

But this is how I like to see my pager after a day out of town...

No comments: