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.

No comments: