Friday, 21 December 2007

On this day . . .

Yesterday I eluded to the fact that today was John's birthday . . I'm sure you'd all like to join me in saying "Happy Birthday!!" Because of data protection laws (and the fact that John's wife Liz is a very scary lawer) I can't tell you exactly how old he is but I do know that he's now closer to 40 than 30 . . now that is scary. I hope you've had a good day John wherever you are at the moment, don't drink too much tonight we wouldn't want you to end up like this again!

The other thing that happened on this day in 1992 is that I was officially enrolled as a new crewmember at Swanage Lifeboat Station. I knew it was in December some time but until I looked it up at the beginning of the week I didn't know for sure. I can't quite believe that it was 15 years ago, I know you're probably thinking Dave doesn't look old enough to have been there 15 years, well that's because I joined when I was 11! I wish! Actually I was 19 when I joined and was one of six new crew taken on to crew the new D Class that was to be evaluated at Swanage from March 1993. Of those six only Colin Marks and I remain, scarily for Colin (and me a bit) I'm now the age he was when he joined! The first winter as a crewmember was a little odd to say the least, for a start we didn't have a boat, we didn't really know that many people and we had pagers that didn't receive the DLA's page so we only knew about a shout 2 or 3 minutes after everyone else. But once the Spring came we got a boat and a capsize boat and we could start training in earnest.

By the middle of the day our saluting was coming on quite nicely! I think this was because Neil happened to appear at station, one thing I do remember is that it was bloody cold. Its worth noting the old style beaufort lifejackets, Tony (far left) is wearing an orange bump cap, the rest of us have motorcycle crash helmets on, you can imagine how heavy these got when they were wet, which they were most of the time.

Look at this fresh faced young lifeboat man :o)

By April of 1993 the relief D Class was officially put on service only to be taken away again for the winter. At that time quite a lot of ILB stations were summer time only. In the spring of 1994 another relief boat arrived and this time we got to keep it for a whole year. After evaluation in the Winter of '94, Spring '95 the RNLI concluded that there was a case to have an ILB at Swanage all year round. This meant that on the 8th April 1995 we had our brand new boat 'Phyl Clare 2' and we also had a boathouse to keep it in rather than a portacabin in the boatpark that we'd using up until then. Unfortunately I can't find any photos of the portacabin, if anyone's got any please let me have a copy.

As time went on I moved up the crew, I became an ILB Helmsman then ILB Senior Helmsman, ALB 3rd Mechanic, ALB 2nd Mechanic, ALB Deputy 2nd Coxswain and finally Station Mechanic in Feb 2002. I haven't forgotten my ILB roots though and I like to do one shout a year in it. Obviously I don't go if its cold, wet or too far from the station that's why we've got those keen fresh faced young ILB crew . . ah now I know why I used to get sent out on all those trips years ago!


lifeboatjohn said...

You total bastard.....wait till I'm back in control!


Mart said...

Happy Birthday John!!

ahhhhh nostalgia - it isn't as good as it used to be!

Another interesting post Dave, thanks. How did you progress from probationer on the ILB to mechanic for the station?

Anonymous said...

You are doing a great job Dave. Happy Christmas to everyone at the station.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mart. When I joined I was a self-employed marine engineer so fixing boats was something I was doing all the time. The RNLI runs 3 courses for ALB mechanics covering everything from engines, gearboxes, onboard electrical systems and even health & safety. Once you've been passed out by one of the Divisional Engineers at sea on an Inspection exercise then you can take the boat to sea as Mechanic. As Station Mechanic I'm a full-time employee so I had to apply and get through an interview before being offered the job.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, John!
Glad to see that you can hold your liquor. I guess that it goes with the submarine service. :)