Thursday, 19 March 2009

New wire

Much of our launching and recovery hardware has been replaced recently; We have new rollers on half of the slipway (the other half will be replaced soon), we have new strops for holding the boat during recoveries, we have also just had a replacement for out old winch wire fitted. This is a fantastic hi-tech piece of rope made from some exotic fibres (spectra I think). One real benefit of this new rope is that it is much lighter than the old one so is easier to rig up. It also won't corrode so doesn't require to be greased. Therefor the whole job of launching and recovering should be much cleaner and easier. Good news.

During last nights crew meeting both Andy Lyons and Mark Stuart were successfully signed off as having completed their probationary periods. They both work very locally so will be able to significantly enhance our day-time cover. Great stuff, well done lads and welcome.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


Each year we try to improve upon last year's Lifeboat Week with ever more imaginative and exciting activities and fundraising events. This year my responsibility is for booking the bands for the Friday and Saturday night. Martin has also tasked me with finding some way of broadening the appeal of Saturday afternoon when we hold our 'build-a-boat' competition. One of my ideas is to hold a sort of mini sea shanty festival. It's certainly in keeping with our maritime nature and would (I think) be perfectly suited to the location in Prince Albert's garden and of course the fine weather which we have booked! I'll keep you posted on my progress with this...

What do you think? Like the idea? Hate it? Please let me know (of course, if you have any other ideas for what we can do please let me know about those ideas too).

Monday, 16 March 2009

What happens when you can't make it?

Typically, yesterday evening when our pagers went off, my wife, Liz had just gone out for a run. Unfortunately one of the children was ill too so I was unable to take them down to the boathouse with me. Consequently, I was unable to respond to my pager's insistent call and had to sit idly by and watch the boat launch without me.

So what happens when crew are unable to respond like this? Well, for precisely this reason we have a great deal of 'built in redundancy' in the crew. In the broadest sense we require a minimum of 10 to launch both boats, 6 crew on the ALB, 2 on the ILB, and a winchman for each. Altogether we have something in the region of 25 crewmembers so we have 150% more than we need. We then train each of these crewmembers in a number of roles, thus we have 4 qualified coxswains, a similar number of emergency mechanics, 8 or so navigators, 4 helmsmen for the ILB etcetera. So when the pagers go off, those who can respond do so and a crew is created out of who turns up.

Yesterday for the ALB this meant Martin our Coxswain was missing so Rob (our Second Coxswain) took his place. Dave (mechanic) was there, I was missing so Gav took my place, all of the rest of the top 6 crew were there (Skid and Paul) so Rob then chose another 3 crew to make up 8 in total (James, Dan and Matt).

So, what did they have to do? Well here in the words of our website are the details:

At 17:43 Portland Coastguard requested the launch of Swanage's All Weather Lifeboat to go to the assistance of a 26' yacht in difficulties in the tidal race south of St Albans Head. The yacht's engine had failed and with the falling wind the yacht was being swept West into the overfalls. The lifeboat launched and was alongside the yacht 25 minutes later. Assistant Mechanic Matt Steeden was put aboard the yacht to secure a towline and check the yacht's crew were OK. With the towline rigged the slow tow home started, both boats made it back to Swanage just over an hour later. The yacht was secured to the lifeboat mooring and the crew brought ashore so they could make arrangements to get the yacht fixed.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Just watching this...

made my stomach churn!

This is Thurso lifeboat out on a shout rescuing a broken down crabbing boat in force 7 - 8 winds. I would imagine that they would have had a fairly bouncy trip out to the casualty followed by a lot of wallowing about trying to connect the tow and then a long slow passage home. Well done lads.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009


It never pays to under-estimate the amount of effort a lifeboat mechanic puts into attending to even the smallest of details. Our Oxygen and Entonox sets have just been replaced with new ones (composite bottles and different valves/masks) and no longer fit into the original stowages which are built into the boat below the Helmsman's and radar operator's seats. Consequently Dave has been occupying some of his time trying to re-arrange things. And this is what he has come up with:


Now that the new Entonox & Oxygen sets are in the fore-cabin this has left the two foot lockers in the wheelhouse (where the Entonox & Oxygen used to be) virtually empty. The one under the radar has the spare Entonox & Oxygen cylinders in, the other is empty.

In order to stop the spare gas cylinders rattling around and because it seemed sensible I have now put 2 of the 4 blankets carried on board (the other 2 are still in the locker by the main first aid kit) in the locker under the radar seat.

I have also put an orange survival bag in the bag with each of the blankets as it seemed a logical place to put them.

Any questions please ask or better still come and have a look on the boat to see what I mean.



Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Did You know...

about Dave's Text message service?

Some time ago Dave set up a service where you are able to subscribe to a text message alert system that will send you a message within minutes of our Lifeboats launching. Messages are charged at 25p each, 10p of which will be donated to the RNLI. At the moment we raise a small but significant amount of money in this way. As they say, every little helps.

To subscribe to this service simply text the following:


to 60300 on your mobile phone. You will receive a confirmation message to say that you have successfully subscribed.

Once you have done that you will get a text everytime we are launched on service. Don't won't be exactly inundated at the moment!

Alternatively you could set up a Virtual Pager from the RNLI website to let you know whenever we (or other stations) launch.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Skid's Ark Royal trip

So it's a few weeks now since Skid went to sea on HMS Ark Royal. Finally however, I've managed to get some photos out of him so here are a few. From what he has said about it he had a terrific time and loved every minute of it. Judge for yourself.

He got the obligatory shot of himself stood next to the ships name-board.

Training on these sort of ships is continual and ongoing so Skid got to watch plenty going on. Here a couple of the lads are practising some gun drills.

The ships own flight were not embarked so there were no aircraft onboard. However, the RAF did oblige with a few landings in one of their Search and Rescue Seaking helicopters.

Sunsets at sea are always particularly impressive.

Skids voyage ended on home turf in Portsmouth, here the Ark Royal is passing the Spinnaker tower.

A great trip and I'm sure that Skid will remember the trip for many years to come. If anyone in the Royal navy is reading this...many thanks for making this trip possible and perhaps next time you might like to invite me?!

Monday, 2 March 2009

On Friday night

Portland Coastguard requested the launch of the ALB to assist in the search for a missing man who had last been seen swimming out to sea from Sandbanks. Both the Poole lifeboats were on scene, however, presumably because it was night time both 'Flank' stations, Swanage and Mudeford lifeboats were tasked to assist. At about 10pm we were paged but just as the lifeboat was about to launch a call came in to say that Poole ILB had recovered the man and were taking him ashore. Consequently we were stood down. A happy outcome.

Incidentally, this was the first shout for our latest DLA Lynda Oliver who should find it easy to arrive on time as she lives practically next door to the station! Welcome.

This week should be busy as Dave is away, the radio course continues tonight, there is a 'Dry' exercise on Wednesday and a full exercise on Sunday. ILB helmsman in Deasy and DLA is Neil Hardy.

Still having trouble with photos!