Monday, 30 June 2008


Liz is back from her bike ride with two of the Lifeboat crew (John and Darren) and has news of the shout. Apparently someone had fallen from the cliffs and needed evacuating. I understand that Rescue Helicopter 106 got there first so airlifted the casualty. Full details in the morning.

Thanks to MarkR for his thoughts

Good night!

Launch ILB

It's seventeen minutes past eight and our pagers have just gone off. The message says 'Launch ILB'. Not a shout for me and anyway, I'm home alone with the kids so can't respond. In any case, it's mechanics night down at the boathouse so the boat will be in the water in minutes. I'll update as soon as I know what's happening.

Looking forward

So this is Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 106.

A short time ago it took over from 'Whiskey Bravo' as our local rescue helicopter. It is run under contract (an interim contract until 2012) to the MCA by CHC Scotia. It is a Westland AW 139 Helicopter and can apparently fly further and faster than it's predecessor (it has a range of over 1000km, a 5+ hour endurance and a top speed of 165 knots).

It has now got it's first few rescues under it's belt and is starting to spend time training with us lifeboat crews. Our first go will be during this Wednesdays exercise when we will spend some time training with it. I imagine that little will have changed...we steam roughly into the wind, they lower a crewman on a wire, he earths himself before landing onboard, he grabs his casualty and goes.

Sadly I won't be there as I have the usual end of term events to participate in at school. Never mind, only 4 more days until I'm free for the summer!!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A new member of the family

Congratulations are due to the Corbens.

David and Marion finally became grandparents yesterday evening as a new young Corben (no name has been chosen yet) was born at Dorchester Maternity Hospital, weighing in at 8lb 15oz. Mother, father, son (and grandparents) are all doing well.

By all accounts Ant’s first aid training came in very handy (I have yet to discover all of the gory details)!

No doubt we will soon have a chance to get together and 'wet the babies head'. Congratulations to you all!

Friday, 20 June 2008

And this month we will

mainly be rescuing yachts. I've spoken before about how we seem to get clusters of similar casualties. So far this June 3/4 of our shouts have been to yachts. Encouragingly they have all been genuine problems which couldn't be sorted out without outside assistance. They have also all involved knowledgeable and capable skippers.

This mornings shout was to a yacht 18 miles SE of Anvil Point. He had become tangled up with a line attached to some fishing gear and was effectively anchored to the sea bed. He had the presence of mind to hoist a ball in his rigging denoting that he was at anchor. The obvious thing to do but seldom done.

(photo thanks to the boat camera)


A yacht's mast requires a network of wires to keep it vertical. If one of these wires is lost the mast tends to fall over. We've seen this lots of time. With presence of mind and quick reactions this can be avoided by turning the yacht so that the missing wire or 'stay' is on the downwind side of the mast. The strain will then be taken by other wires.

Yesterday's shout involved just this situation. Just after 2 in the afternoon the crew were paged to assist a yacht with rigging failure 10 miles to the south of St Aldhelm's Head. About 40 minutes later they were on scene and put two crew members onboard so as to help stabilise the rig and prepare for the passage back to Swanage. Luckily, with the prevailing wind direction, the wind was pushing the mast forwards and so the vessel could be sailed back to Swanage under Mainsail alone.

Once in Swanage the yacht was attached to the lifeboat mooring and the skipper was re-united with his wife.

Job done...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

With my own two hands

So, why do you rarely see lifeboat crew wearing gloves?

Well, you do sometimes, just not often. Indeed we are issued with two kinds of gloves:

Firstly the ILB crew are issued with neoprene gloves (diving style). During the winter these can be a real lifesaver. It is likely that when in the ILB a crewmembers hands will be continually wet, this fact combined with wind chill can rapidly cool a pair of hands to the point where they are completely numb. However, with these gloves on (they are about 5mm thick) it is pretty much impossible to feel anything and all manual dexterity is lost. Therefor it is standard practise to remove them as soon as the crew arrive on scene. Makes perfect sense.

The other type of gloves we are issued with are the blue latex surgical type gloves which ambulance crews are provided with. Many crew carry a couple of pairs of these in the pockets of their foul weather gear. It is standard procedure to don a couple of pairs of these prior to arriving at any incident where there is likely to be a requirement for first aid. Naturally they are disposable!

I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make it a better place
With my own two hands
Make it a kinder place
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can make peace on earth
With my own two hands
I can clean up the earth
With my own two hands
I can reach out to you
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I'm going to make it a brighter place
With my own two hands
I'm going to make it a safer place
With my own two hands
I'm going to help the human race
With my own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands
I can hold you
With my own two hands
I can comfort you
With my own two hands
But you've got to use
Use your own two hands
Use your own
Use your own two hands
With our own
With our own two hands
With my own
With my own two hands

(Jack Johnson)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

When the training pays off

Yesterday afternoon (while I was still at work) the ALB was launched to assist a lady who's husband had collapsed on the foredeck of their catamaran near Anvil point. The new Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 106 was also scrambled to assist. In very short order both were on scene and a rapid assessment of the casualty took place. He was unconscious and not breathing so CPR was begun while the Helo prepared to evacuate him as quickly as possible to hospital. Once he was on his way our crew stayed aboard the yacht which was taken to Swanage and put onto the lifeboat mooring. Once this was done the lady was brought ashore and taken by the coastguard to Poole hospital to be with her husband. Our thoughts are with them both.

Monday, 16 June 2008

It turns out

it wasn't such a quiet weekend after all for our local 'Coasties':



Our thoughts are with the poor fellow in the 4x4.

Slow speed transfer

Despite glorious weather and loads of people out an about it was a quiet and safe weekend in Swanage (although it did sound as if the Coastguard were busy) I'll tell you about some other stuff we do!

A slow speed transfer is a technique that, although being in some ways almost counter intuitive, we use to transfer people between the ILB and ALB while still moving forwards. If, when you bring the ILB alongside the ALB at slowish speeds, the tiller is pulled hard over when the hulls touch, it has the effect of pushing the bow of the ILB into the ALB and the two boats become locked together in a very stable position. People can then be safely transfered. Care needs to be taken when breaking away to avoid getting sucked under the bow as you turn out and drive forwards.

Friday, 13 June 2008


Just as I pulled into the drive last night Jo ran down the road jesticulating wildly. Not that this is in itself an unusual occurance mind you! After a few moments I twigged that her pager had just gone off and that we had a shout on our she jumped and we drove down to the boathouse.

Martin and Rob were both away so Dave took the boat and, due in part to the nature of the job we took a relatively in-experienced crew. We arrived on scene just off Anvil point about 5 minutes later to find a 35ft yacht with damaged rigging and engine failure. To compound his problems he had anchored and got his anchor stuck!

Matt and Kev jumped aboard and tried to free the anchor. This didn't work so we attached a tow rope and tried to pull the anchor free that way. This didn't work either so we cut his anchor rope, bouyed the end then towed him home to Swanage where we put him on the lifeboat mooring. No doubt he will soon be on his way and continuing with his journey.

You know you make me wanna (Shout!)
Kick my heels up and (Shout!)
Throw my hands up and (Shout!)
Throw my head back and (Shout!)
Come on now (Shout!)

(The Isley Brothers)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

1st Aid update

Tonight we have an exercise. It will be shore based and Paul Savage is coming over to give us an update on our November 1st Aid course (required because the course content has changed slightly since our trial in November). We also have a crew meeting to deal with lifeboat week issues and job allocations! Time to keep a low profile I think...........

Monday, 9 June 2008

First 'proper' shout

At one minute to 11 yesterday young Ty began heading towards the boathouse for what was to become his first proper shout since joining the crew. At the time he didn't realise it. He probably imagined that once more he would be stood at the bottom of the stairs watching someone else get chosen. Not yesterday! Rob picked him and before he knew it he was on the way to Dancing Ledge to collect a broken down RIB. Not the most exciting of shouts but I know exactly how he must have felt. I wonder if he's still buzzing?

The good news of course is that there is an exercise on Wednesday and so he will an early opportunity to purchase us the customary pint!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

A member of the public reported seeing a red flare........

and in fact it was me.

Stood on my deck last night taking in the fine view of this square rigger in the bay John Deas, Liz and I spotted what looked very definitely like a red flare. Indeed, it was followed by 2 more which also both looked like red flares. So I called the coastguard, told them what I'd seen, gave my position and a line of bearing to what we'd seen and left it in their hands. In all likelihood it was a prank but what else could I do. If you see what looks like a red flare out there you report it.......don't you? After all, it could be you out there in need of assistance!

Obviously I've heard nothing since so it could have been anything, or something. I wonder.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Home from Home

So on my trip up north last week I did my usual and visited any lifeboat stations which I happened to be passing. This first photo is North Berwick which is a charming seaside town on the southern side of the Firth of Forth. It has a tiny harbour but the ILB stationed here is launched from this boathouse, across the road and then down a slip onto the beach with a tractor. Unfortunately the boathouse was locked so I had no opportunity to look in.

Although the station was originally opened in 1860 it was closed in 1925. It was re-opened in 1967 when a 'D'class boat was stationed there. In 1991 the original boathouse was re-purchased by the RNLI and then extended to accommodate the tractor. Their ILB was one of the boats provided by Blue Peter from one of their appeals in 1993.

Further down the coast I popped in to visit the pretty town of St Abbs. There has been a lifeboat station here since 1911. The boathouse was built in 1915 and has since housed a variety of boats including rowing boats, an Oakley, a Waveney and 'D', 'C' and now a 'B' class. The boathouse is without doubt the dominant feature of the town and the harbour and provides an impressive view.

Further down the coast I stopped in Eyemouth but couldn't quite reach the station as I was somewhat trapped on the other side of the harbour. They operate a Trent class lifeboat which sits afloat next to their relatively new shore facility.

Let me be the one that you turn to
Someone you can rely on
Closer each day
Home and away

(Home and Away theme)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Change of scenery

Yesterday morning both boats went to sea for exercise. For a change I took the ILB to sea as Helmsman and took Ollie and Chad along with me. It is essential that I do this every now and then as there are odd occasions when I am required to take the ILB out on a shout.

Chad demonstrated to Ollie how the chart plotter works then Ollie set up a route for me to follow. Once we arrived 'on scene' Ollie then talked me through all of the stowages on the boat to remind me of what we carry on the ILB and where everything is stowed. He was particularly good at explaining each of the various uses of each piece of equipment. He then explained to me each of the ways of recovering a person from the water and demonstrated on me!

Chad then talked us through anchoring and veering in to the cliff, they briefly put me ashore then used the throwing line to recover me from the cliff.

We then briefly went to check on the puffins and took Paul off the ALB to come into on of the caves to get this photo.

On the way home we practised some slow speed transfers with the Mersey. This is a great technique which almost seems to lock the two boats together making transfers of casualties and personnel far simpler.

Then it was back to the boathouse for a washdown and debrief. A good mornings work, and I certainly now feel as if I know my way around the boat as well as I should. Thanks lads!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Another busy weekend

It all started on Friday with the ILB tasked to assist a motor boat which had suffered engine failure a couple of miles to the east. An easily sorted problem. Nothing heroic but still part of the service.

Yesterday heralded another shout to recover a kayak which had been spotted drifting by a passing yacht. These sort of shouts tend to have an edge to them on account of the fact that there may well have been a person on board. In this case it was pretty obviously just a scrappy old kayak which had been set adrift by pranksters. It was duly recovered by Gav, Chad and Mark in the ILB and returned to the boathouse. If it is not claimed it will probably join our small but treasured collection of rescued craft (it certainly won't find a place in my kayak fleet)!