Thursday, 30 August 2007

Dorset Police 0 - Dorset Ambulance Service 1

Again yesterday we were asked to wait briefly before launching so that we could take a member of the emergency services with us. This time we were asked to wait for an ambulance paramedic before proceeding. Only this time he actually got on board and sailed with us on the shout. Not a mention of health and safety or sea survival courses! his and his controls attitude seemed to be very much, my casualty is out there, you can get me there, what are we waiting for. Fortunately he put his experience to good use stabilising a young crew member on the T.S. Royalist who was insulin dependent and having a prolonged fit. Thanks for your help and pragmatism comrade!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Dulce et decorum est............

All supporters of Swanage Lifeboat will be sad to hear that Walt Bishop collapsed and died on Sunday the 19th of August. He was 75. Walt had a long and distinguished association with the Swanage Lifeboat, joining as a shore helper in 1966. In 1968 he became a crew member on the 41ft Watson class lifeboat 'RLP' and became bowman on the 'J Reginald Corah' when she arrived on station in 1975. Walt continued to serve until he stepped down from the crew in August 1981. During that time there were 707 launches, and 440 lives were saved. Instead of retiring, Walt became Head Launcher until November 1992, and after having to give up this post, he became a regular boathouse attendant, imparting to many thousands of visitors his stories of past rescues, in his own inimitable way. Walt was unique, one of the now 'rare breed' of old lifeboatmen. At all times he carried out his duties with great professionalism, but it was always accompanied with his own distinctive wicked sense of humour. He was a great man, and it was a immense privilege to have served with him on the crew. Our thoughts go out to his wife Ros, his daughters Diana and Susan, and to his grandchildren and other members of his family. (Words thanks to Dave Corben)

Sitting on the dock of the bay

No lifeboat crewmember likes missing a shout. I hate it, even the mundane and run of the mill shouts. However, htere are the odd occasions when you simply have to say no. Sunday was one of those days. It was my eldest daughter's 5th birthday and my pager went off just 20 minutes prior to the party starting! Of course I went down to the boathouse but with the intention of stepping down provided there were sufficient crew there. Fortunately there were so I stepped aside and let someone else take my place. I guess there is a certain amount of pleasure to be had from someone else getting a shout.........

As luck would have it, it was such an unforgetable shout that I have completely forgotten what it was. Have a look at the station website if you are interested.

Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same

Sitting on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay
Wasting time

(Otis Redding)

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Summer's here at last

It's been one of those days. Hot, sunny and very busy on the water. Not surprisingly everyone had the same idea. Not just the general public but the crew too. Quite unplanned I decided on a trip in the boat to Chapman's Pool this afternoon and found myself there at the same time as two boat loads of our crew. We were greeted on the beach by Dave who announced that the rest of them (Matt, Jon, and Becky) were along the beach by the water fall having a mud fight.......and they were. Look carefully at the picture and you can see the speech bubble above little Eve's head. It reads, 'it turns out Daddy was wrong.........behaving like an idiot IS OK after all'.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Groundhog day?

For a moment it seemed time was repeating itself, as on both Monday and Tuesday evening we heard the familiar tone of our pager at exactly 17:52hrs. In our usual fashion the crew finished what they were doing, well dropped everything, and make their way to the boathouse.

Slightly unusually the page alert we heard on Monday evening was the more sedate message tone and not the urgent bleating alert we normally hear which left some of us scratching our heads. Luckily a quick look at the message made it clear that there was indeed a launch request.

With the Mersey safely launched several minutes later a few waifs and strays remained as shore crew to re-house the boat. On realising that the shout was going to be sometime as the recovered yacht had to be towed to calmer waters in Poole, Gav and I were deployed on the tea run to stock up on milk and biscuits only to receive another page whilst in the shop! We were understandably confused to read another launch request for our ALB that was already at sea…..needless to say all was not what it seemed and on return to the boathouse we found out that it was in fact just a test page, as our duty DLA Russ' pager was not working correctly!

By strange coincidence the next evening followed a similar course of events. This time the services of the ILB were requested at 17:52, the boat was launched and the remaining crew returned to their business only to be paged for ‘immediate readiness of the ALB’ just 17 minutes later. This instance was a valid call, although we were stood down as fortunately the windsurfer we were preparing to search for was found safe in Studland bay.

Thankfully Wednesday did not follow the same trend and the only thing being the same was the miserable weather, wind, rain and more wind. In case you have forgotten here is a reminder of a summers day!!

Sunny Swanage just a couple of weeks ago!

Monday, 20 August 2007

It ain't over til it's over!

We have come to the end of our Lifeboat week and with this John is off on his travels once again (he does work occasionally so I am led to believe!), thus leaving another crew blogger at the reins!I can safely say that this last weekend was hectic and that all the crew are feeling slightly, well very jaded, as demonstrated here by John Deas!

Despite the somewhat pitiful weather we have had a fantastic time and our efforts have paid off. The raft race and build a boat competition on Saturday generated a crowd of onlookers braving the wind and rain.

Our open day on Sunday was also a great success. Although there were some last minute changes made to the running of the day owing to the weather, we still had an impressive assortment of demonstrations throughout the day...................

and were fortunate enough to have the Coastguard helicopter working with us for one of them.

However as the weekend drew on madness did at times set in for the crew...............yes that is snails they were ever so carefully collecting!Luckily it was nothing that could not be solved by a good nights sleep and the crew are now slipping back to normality................ well almost!
So we have completed another Lifeboat week until next year and earned a well deserved break, although it would seem the planning for the next one has already began with Martin brimming with new ideas, apparently next year we are doing Shakespeare?! Yet no sooner had we taken a bit of time to ourselves when the crew was called together once again, this time for a shout.

Monday 20th August 17:58

After a very successful, but shout free, Lifeboat week Portland Coastguard requested the launch of Swanage's All Weather Lifeboat to go to the assistance of a yacht in difficulties 1Nm East of Old Harry Rocks. Details were a little sketchy as the yacht's radio was not working correctly and they were unable to talk directly to Portland Coastguard. All communications were having to be passed through a nearby vessel. The Lifeboat launched and was alongside the yacht 8 minutes later. Crewman Steve Williams was put aboard to see what the situation was and assist the yacht's crew. The problem seemed to be that the yacht's engine wouldn't start and the crew were concerned about sailing in the increasing wind. A towline was passed across and because of the NE wind the yacht was taken in tow to Poole where they were berthed at Dolphin Haven Marina. The Lifeboat was then released to return to Swanage.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Friday night live

The weather held last night and crowds of people came. I think I can safely say that everyone had a great time. Loads of our friends were there and plenty of visitors too. Prince Albert's Gardens are a wonderful setting as they catch the evening sun and everyone gets a good view and somewhere to sit.Kev had a great idea of selling glow sticks. These went down a treat and loads were sold.My kids stayed up and were true 'Feral' lifeboat orphans for the evening.Our banking bar staff were back again and in the spirit.A great evening

Suprise visitor

In the middle of our bash down at the Prince Albert Garden's last night we were honoured to have a surprise guest visitor. In lifeboating circles 'Stormy Stan' is a legend (in his own lunchtime). He certainly gets around a bit. He was spotted in town yesterday collecting funds with a bucket. He then turned up out of the blue in the evening. And boy can he party!With no shame at all he was straight up on stage and joining in with the band.Moments later he was sighted playing a tremendous rendition of 'Stairway to Heaven' on his air guitar. He came close to upstaging the the band but, being a natural diplomat he poured oil on troubled waters.Thanks Stan.......

Friday, 17 August 2007

It's a set up!

Today was spent setting up the Prince Albert gardens for this evening and Saturdays evenings parties. It was an enjoyable day, sunny, hard work but comradely. Becky worked hard and managed to avoid looking stressed most of the time!Jon manged to avoid looking stressed out the whole time. The more I know him the more I realise that he is an example of laid-backness to aspire to.Our new Gazebos with their RNLI logos look great and a fabulous to work in.The kids were tremendous today. They joined in and really loved being with the boys (that includes you Becky and Jo).There was even time for an impromptu picnic.......altogether a great day. Well done everyone!


The gig racing also went very well last night. Both of our boats, Peveril and Old Harry were on the water and Weymouth brought one of their gigs up for the night. Racing was close. So close in fact that the youth race was a dead tie. Well done to you.Weymouth's gig is a rather rastafarian affair. However, it is without doubt very photogenic.There was a rather pretty sunset.Our crew on the ALB had a good time of it and seemed happy enough.The sunsets kept coming!Our Coxswain Martin and his two lads Gav and Matt looked pretty knackered at the end.

Thanks to the sailing club for providing food and beer at theirs afterwards. Very hospitable.


Yesterdays sailing race went very well. We were moored up as one end of the start line and had the sailing club race officers on board. It turned out to be a cracking place to view the racing from.Ex Coxswain Chris Haw provided much of the entertainment!He seemed to be struggling to work out which way up his boat was meant to be..........Local activity centre proprietor Tim Hughes was sailing his RS 400 superbly.Local Doctor Robert Baker got off to a neat start in his Laser.One of the Spitfires looked tremendous set against a backdrop of ST Tenacious. A good evening was had by all.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Chucking arrows

It seems like the darts competition final went well on Monday night. The knee tremblingly wonderful Kim kindly sent me these photos from the evening. I think you get the picture from them?

The boys were having fun.As were the girls (don'tthey always?)Even Rob, our Second Coxswain seemed to be enjoying the proceedings.I'm not sure whether in this photo Martin is receiving the prize or giving it?You might notice that these photos are somewhat better than the usual fare you see here. This is because Kim is a trained photographer...........sadly she is slightly limited in what she can achieve by having a camera which is not quite as good as mine!

Monday, 13 August 2007

Day tripping

I've mentioned Roger and the Rother class lifeboat J.Reginald Corah a number of times. Today I had the true pleasure of spending some time with Roger as I took my kids for a trip around the bay on her.She really does look splendid, a credit to Roger.The kids loved every minute of can probably tell?And of course Roger is the same as ever, a true gent and friend to everyone.And he works dam hard, trip after trip all day.So,thanks Roger. For a great day and for all that you do for us here in Swanage.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Spreading the word

So. Lifeboat week has started in earnest. My task today was to attend the local United Reform Church and give a talk about lifeboating and what it is like being on the Swanage crew. I have to say, I was honoured to invited by Christine Pulleyn and was made (with my family) to feel tremendously welcome. To be honest it surprised me. I had expected folk in a coastal town to be encouraging and interested in our work. However, I wasn't expecting quite the level of gratitude and support which I did get. My thanks to them all.

It was doubly a pleasure because our Coxswain's mother in law is a church elder there. It is always a pleasure to see Gloria.........someone who knows more that most what is expected of lifeboat crews. You see her husband Vic was the Coxswain of our boat for many years.

Furthermore I also had the pleasure to meet God's parents. No, not that God.......our LOM Neil Hardy. Both his Mother and Father were in the congregation and made a point of introducing themselves afterwards. To be honest I was slightly surprised, they didn't look old enough to be Neil's parents! Perhaps beards age you?

Anyway, once again thanks to you all at the URC for making me feel so welcome and appreciated.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Mad world?

So. Your pager goes off. You drop whatever it is that you are doing and rush to the boathouse. You spend 2 minutes involved in the dressing up race that is getting ready to go out on a shout. And then you do nothing.........for about 20 minutes.

Why? Well, to start with we were going to go to attend a domestic situation which had occurred on a boat nearby. Reports were confused but seemed to involve a father and daughter, some violence, a lot of tears, calls to the police and a suspected heart attack. Not your usual lifeboat stuff. So just as we were ready to launch the police called to ask if we could wait to take them with us as they wanted to attend and also had a defibrillator. So we waited. And waited. And then a bit more waiting. So imagine our shocked amazement when they then arrived (having increased our response time by about 250% when there was a suspected heart attack)and told us that they couldn't come because they hadn't done a sea survival course! Flippin' Mad..........So we set off and went anyway.

As it turned out there was no heart attack and the situation had settled down a bit. Naturally the main talking point for the crew was the nonsense of the Police situation. In front of a very large crowd of by-standers they were made to look pretty pathetic in by their controllers. What a mad world.

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very
Mad World
Mad World
Enlarging your world
Mad World.

(Tears for Fears)

Friday, 10 August 2007

When generations collide

Look carefully at this smashing photo (taken by Dave Corben this evening as we were waiting to launch on a shout) and you will spot the J.Reginald Corah in the background. She arrived yesterday evening skippered by Roger of course and looks to be in even better shape than last year. He certainly keeps a tight ship. As I was putting out to sea this evening to check my lobster pots I happened to spot him sitting on the bench outside of the angling club looking every bit as if he hadn't left since last year. Indeed, he has already done a handful of trips on our behalf. Welcome back Roger!

The shout this evening deserves a post all of it's own. Indeed, tired as I am perhaps I'll do just that.............something in the morning about what has to be the most weird and depressing shout ever.......a real window upon the human condition.


Thursday, 9 August 2007

Lifeboat week

Swanage Lifeboat Week starts in two days time. This is an immense week for us. We do the vast majority of our fundraising over this week and also put a huge amount of effort into getting the lifeboat and its crew seen around the town to raise awareness of the institution and the work it does. This year there is more going on than ever (the latest additions are the Friday night music, bar and BBQ at P.A.G., the build a boat comp and the cream teas on the Saturday.

The programme for the entire week is below. Please come and support if you possibly can.

Swanage Lifeboat Week programme, 12th – 19th August 2007

Sun 12th 10:00 – 16:00 Swanage Angling Club Comp
Sun 12th 11:00 – 16:00 Ladies Guild Fair, Seafront
Mon 13th 20:00 – 23:00 Darts Final, The Crow’s Nest
Tues 14th 17:30 – 19:00 Swanage Sailing Club, Junior race
Wed 15th 10:00 – 16:00 Book stall, Seafront
Wed 15th 20:00 – 23:00 Fun Quiz, Swanage Con Club
Thur 16th 18:30 – 20:30 Swanage Sailing Club, Senior race
Thur 16th 18:00 – 21:00 Gig race, Main Beach
Fri 17th 10:00 – 17:00 Flag Day street collection
Fri 17th 18:00 – 23:00 Live Music, Bar & Food at Prince Albert gardens*
Sat 18th 11:00 – 16:00 Build a boat competition at P.A.G*
Sat 18th 11:00 – 17:00 Cream teas, music & stalls at P.A.G*
Sat 18th 16:00 – 17:00 Build a boat race, The Stone Quay
Sat 18th 17:00 – 18:30 Raft Race, Main Beach
Sat 18th 18:00 – 23:00 Live Music, Bar & Food at P.A.G*
Sun 19th 12:00 – 16:00 Cream teas, music & stalls at P.A.G*
Sun 19th 12:00 – 16:00 Lifeboat Festival, Swanage Pier

Throughout the week the 'J.Reginald Corah' (ex Swanage Lifeboat) will be running trips round the bay from the lifeboat slipway. Come down to the boathouse if you would like to put to sea on a real lifeboat!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


We were out last night, both boats, looking for see, someone had left a rope hanging over the cliff near Anvil point, tied securely at the top but attached to nothing at the bottom. Being as it was a climbing rope it was thought prudent for us to go and have a look and see if there was anything lying at the bottom or in the water near the bottom. Luckily it turned out there was nothing there. So we went home.

And then this morning we were called out again. Only it wasn't, as we expected, to go and look for the same missing something. Instead, to confound our expectations, it was to assist a yacht which had become attached to some fishing net. This sounds trivial but it was securely around their propeller and rudder so they had no steerage or motive power. Like good sorts they had tried to sort things out by themselves but despite going into the water armed with a knife, had failed to achieve any success. Thus they were well and truly 'Not Under Command' and in sore need of our assistance.

As we drew close we began to realise that they were no strangers to adversity on the high seas. From a distance their mast looked unusually short. Once I got aboard and chatted with the owner I got the full story. It turns out that on passage from Bermuda to the Azores they had been dismasted!, they had then made for the Azores under jury rig, made some repairs then continued to the UK. Last night crossing the channel from the Channel Islands to the south coast of England they had encountered further trouble............I only hope that bad things don't come in threes for them.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Johnny foreigner

Well, sorry for the delay. I'm back from holiday now and seem to have taken a while to get back into the yoke so to speak. Somehow life gets so busy when there is nothing to do but enjoy yourself!

As you would imagine the Swedish maritime rescue organisation is extremely well organised. Meticulous you could say. Here for your interest is the Swedish version of Whiskey Bravo. A purposeful looking beast I think you will agree?

Life here in Swanage has been very busy. Carnival week has been a blur of activity as ever and has involved the crew a lot..........mainly our immensely keen but basically crap extreme team! Anyway. here I am, back in the hot seat and I promise more regular updates.........