Sunday, 31 May 2009

Urgent...please vote!

You know. There have been all sort of exciting things happening here at Swanage Lifeboat over the last few days but I can't concentrate on blogging becuse we are no longer leading the Dorset Muesli Competition. If you are reading this and haven't recently voted (from what I can work out you can vote more than once), please do so. You'll make me a very happy man.

Of course, if I win, I will be very happy to reward you for your vote with an invitation to breakfast at my house to share the spoils (I leave for work at 7.15 each morning).

The picture by the way was taken this evening at Becky's parents house where many of the crew met up for a BBQ. A great evening...thanks Haddock!

Remember...please vote Lifeboat Scrapbook!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Going round in circles

So the busy weekend we were all fearing turned up. Just as many of us were getting into bed on Sunday night (and quite a few others were settling in for a night of Karaoke), our pagers alerted us to the need for our services.

There followed a rather bizarre incident which involved both boats and turned out to have been a rather unfortunate 'domestic' incident necessitated us taking two policemen to sea with us. In due course both casualties were treated for their injuries, one was landed in Studland to an ambulance and the other returned with us to Swanage. Hopefully the morning brought everyone to their senses and normal service has resumed...

Then this morning, just as many of us were trying to catch up on some much needed sleep we were called for again, this time to a y44 foot long yacht 6 miles South East of Peveril Point with steering failure. Once on scene Steve and I jumped aboard to rig a tow and try to resolve the difficulties with the steering.

Once set up we towed the vessel in the shelter of Studland bay where with the help of the crew of the vessel, got the difficulties with the steering sorted.

As we were unlucky enough to miss breakfast at home we were very grateful for the offer of bacon sarnies aboard the casualty vessel...very good they were too!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Bank holiday gigging

Freshly back from the World Championships in the Scilly Islands. Our local Gig club had their annual regatta yesterday. Each year this seems to grow and yesterday I counted something like 12 gigs in attendance.

And it was almost the perfect activity for a start to the holiday. The comings and goings of the Gigs in amongst the holiday makers made for a fine spectacle.

Although not the sunniest day of the year, the afternoon brightened up and showed the brightly coloured Gigs off to perfection.

Meanwhile the services of Swanage Lifeboat remained uncalled for. Just as we like it!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Buffalo Bill

Matt is rapidly becoming one of our most versatile and competent crewmembers. His experience as a technician over at RNLI HQ in Poole has meant that he brings a lot of solid experience to the crew in his role as an emergency mechanic. He is also a very capable boat handler and spent most of last Wednesdays exercise driving from the USP.

I think you'll agree that he looks the part too?

So the Bank holiday approaches. It's likely to be busy. Let's hope that plenty of people have read the recent reports about Tombstoning and Coasteering and take heed of the RNLI's advice here.

Have a safe one...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

On the rocks

So last night's exercise was a pretty busy one. Martin took the ALB with an experienced crew with the aim of running through a few medical type scenarios which involved extraction from the rocks at the base of the cliffs. On the way we did a few navigation exercises and seamanship drills (also known as laying the course for the Swanage Sea Rowing Club gig racing regatta this weekend)! Then got stuck into the guts of the exercise.

Steve rowed Becky ashore in the X-boat to act as our casualty. In the absence of the ILB the X-boat is our primary method of getting people to and from the shore in good weather. Once ashore, the X-boat party become known as 'Lifeboat X-ray' and that is used as their call sign.

We normally send it in with a line attached so that we can pull it back out to the lifeboat with casualties aboard.

Last night we had one of the First Aid MTU training staff with us for a familiarisation exercise so she also went ashore in order for her to better understand what we are trying to achieve and the context in which we are trying to do it.

Once all that was done the ILB arrived and landed some of the larger bits of kit like the main first aid kit, Oxygen and the basket stretcher.

Everything seemed to work well so on completion we packed everything up and returned to station ready for a quick pint in the Ship.

Well, you're the kinda guy
Who needs attention around the clock
Well you can't even talk
'Cause baby, it's on the rocks
Yeah, it's on the rocks

(The Donnas - It's on the rocks)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


On Thursday of last week it was the annual RNLI awards ceremony at the Barbican in London. As usual, medals for gallantry were awarded by the President of the Institution the Duke of Kent. However, a lot of awards were also made to some of the many volunteers who work tirelessly to keep the Institution afloat.

Our very own Diana receive her gold badge from the Duke of Kent - a just reward for all her sterling work for The Swanage Guild where she has been Souvenir Secretary for many years. She is the mainstay of our fantastic team of helpers not only in the shop but also at various fundraising events in Swanage and the surrounding area with her souvenir stall.

She was accompanied by her husband Dan and also Ann and Robin Tiller.

Our recently opened shop is a fine example of what a can be achieved with a great deal of hard work by volunteers such as Diana. Please visit if you ever get the chance.

Well done Dianna!

Monday, 18 May 2009

It's all bit of a blur

Every now and then I get a picture which wasn't meant to happen but for whatever reason I really like it. This is one which the camera decided to take itself during one Sunday exercise. Despite the fact that the camera was swinging from it's cord attached to my wrist, it still seems to have captured something which is discernibly a lifeboat image.

It may be a busy week this week. The mechanics are meeting this evening to do the routine lifejacket servicing. There is an exercise on Wednesday evening. Kev is ILB duty helm for the week and the DLA is Linda. Let's have a quiet one...

Friday, 15 May 2009

Happy Return

Mike Streeter (keen supporter of Swanage Lifeboat) recently sent me this photo taken (he thinks) on the day of the naming ceremony of our current boat the Robert Charles Brown. In the background circles the J.Reginald Corah but also the fishing vessel Britannia lies to her mooring. The Britannia was owned at the time by Pete Barrett who remains a local fisherman, all be it in a much smaller vessel.

Shortly after this photo was taken she was decommissioned by MAF. Ownership was then handed over by MAFF to the North East Lincolnshire Borough Council for the National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. She was identified as a vessel of heritage and historic importance to be matched by the Centre with an organisation interested in it's preservation. The National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby subsequently hand the responsibility for Britannia over to the Mounts Bay Luggers Association. Subsequently she was restored both to her original name, Happy Return and her original configuration as a sailing lugger. You can read the full history here and I'm confident that you'll find it a worthwhile half hour!

There is a further lifeboat link here. The Happy Return was built in 1904 in Porthleven using money paid by subscription by the townsfolk of Folkestone to replace the lugger Good Intent. She had been wrecked in a storm which involved a heroic lifeboat rescue by the crew of the Folkestone Lifeboat. Read about it here.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Bike to work

Regular readers will be aware that I am a keen cyclist. So the sight which greeted me at the boathouse last Sunday warmed the cockles of my heart. I counted no fewer than 8 bicycles lent against various walls of the boathouse having been used by crewmembers to get down to the boathouse. Of course, they were all hideously expensive sports machines rather than 'proper' transport bikes which I prefer for this sort of journey, however, they were being used for transport all the same.

Perhaps it's time that we thought about some sort of bike rack or parking area?

Sadly I wasn't one of those on a bike as I am between 'pub' bikes at the moment. My last one met with a rather untimely end and pickings up at the tip have been rather sparse of late. Indeed, so desperate am I getting that I am considering actually parting with money and getting one of these as a round town load hauling machine. I figure I could get all the shopping and both of the kids on the deck at the back. What do you recon?!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Busy exercise (and sorry for the delay!)

Right...I'm feeling a little better now so here are a few more details from the weekend exercise.

In a sense Sunday's exercise was a big one for me. Since becoming one of the Stations Deputy Second Coxswains a number of years ago I have spent a lot of time acting as Second Coxswain for the other three (Martin, Rob and Dave) but very little time taking complete command of the lifeboat as Coxswain. So on Sunday I took the boat out for an exercise with my own crew...the sort of crew I would have is Martin, Rob and Dave were absent.

My intention was to give the engines a run, get Gav doing a little navigating and spend a bit of time running Paul E and Kev through a couple of seamanship evolutions with them acting as my Second Coxswains. Of course it didn't turn out like that. Events and colleagues conspired to scupper my plan.

Midway through out little Navigation exercise I overheard Deasy on the ILB talking to Portland about a kayaker which they had spotted in difficulty. It was agreed that they would take the kayaker onboard and head back towards Swanage along with his Kayak. After a brief discussion it was agreed that we would head off to meet them and take either the kayak or the Kayaker onboard. As it turned out we did both as the fellow was a bit cold from his swim.

Having practised this sort of thing last year the recovery of the kayak went smoothly and it was soon emptied of water. In short order it was stowed on the side deck and we returned to the slipway to land both the vessel and the casualty.

We then headed out to continue our exercise. And it was a busy day for kayakers in the bay. This bunch seemed well organised and had the added benefit of safety in numbers.

No sooner had we resumed our planned exercise than we had a 'For Exercise' shout from Portland Coastguard. They had had a report of an explosion on a fishing vessel 1/2 a mile SE of Peveril point. Of course we made best speed towards the casualty and dealt with what we found (burnt crewman, one crewman missing presumed overboard and a disabled boat). Kev and James boarded the boat to administer first aid. We did a quick search and found the casualty in the water, we then brought the casualty onboard the ALB before rigging up a tow to bring the casualty vessel home.

And it mostly went well and smoothly. So...a big thanks to Rob and Dave for arranging that little beauty for us!

Friday, 8 May 2009


This is Colin. He's our Lifeboat Visits Officer. It is his responsibility to co-ordinate visits by organisations (mostly schools) and make sure that someone is there trained and ready to tell them all about the RNLI and what we do. And he has a busy time of it. I'll have to ask him but I think we probably get a couple of such visits each week and quite possibly more in the height of the summer term when so many schools come to Swanage for their Annual residential trip. Since he has started as our LVO Colin has revolutionised how we do it. With Dave's assistance he has created an in-house multimedia show which demonstrates in great detail what we do.

This is not a service we charge for, however, donations are welcome (and are usually forthcoming) and Colin has a small shop stocked up with little gifts for the young people to buy. If you're reading this and wish to arrange a visit for a school party, please contact Colin via the 'visits' section of our website.

Please don't forget to vote for Lifeboat Scrapbook in the Dorset Muesli Little Blog Awards. We were leading but now seem to have been knocked off our perch!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Senior helm

Steve has been our Senior ILB Helmsman for the last 7 years. This is not an official position in the eyes of the Institution, but it is one which we have always had as we feel that it gives much needed leadership to the younger and less experienced part of our crew. And Steve has done this job tremendously well.

He is known for being a stickler for details and analysing how everything is done to ensure that we are always doing the right thing. He has also been a great teacher of new and inexperienced crewmembers (he inducted me into the crew) as well as having led from the front with demonstrably high level of skill as a boathandler on shouts.

However, Steve has now reached the grand old age of 45 and so has had to retire from sea-going duties in the ILB. Consequently he is no longer able to continue as the senior helm of the ILB.

So Steve now moves to being ALB crew only where his skills as a navigator, radio operator, first aider and yachtjumper will no doubt be in high demand. Good luck for the future and thanks for everything you've done in the ILB mate.

So some time ago the current ILB helms got together and decided amongst themselves who was going to succeed him. None of us are sure how this decision was reached, however, Tom's name rose to the top of the pile and so he has now taken over from Steve as Senior Helm. No doubt he will put his own unique stamp on the role! Good luck mate.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

(Dylan Thomas)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Tweet Tweet

Love it or loath it, Twitter is here to stay. What remains to be seen is exactly how people incorporate it into their online lives.

As a matter of fact, I love it and recently used it to good effect during a school sailing expedition which I ran during the Easter holidays. However, for some reason I recently seem to have had no end of problems with mobile twittering and either my phone won't remain registered, or it suddenly stops allowing me to upload, or I get 50 random texts from Twitter in a day. As you can imagine this has become somewhat frustrating though I'm guessing that this is just a result of their infrastructure failing to keep up with a demand for their services which is growing exponentially.

Anyway, the point of telling you this was two fold: Firstly I wanted to let you know that I fully intend to use Twitter again this summer when it is more stable, my plan is to try and maintain some sort of commentary on events as and when shouts unfold. However, if you can't wait that long, Dave has begun using Twitter as an add on to the official station website. Click here and register to follow the updates.

Monday, 4 May 2009


15 miles to the south of Anvil point light is an excellent crab fishing area. It is also roughly on a line between the Needles fairway and Guernsey. Consequently, in good weather, the area is liberally populated with both Dhan buoys (pot marker buoys) and yachts.

Sadly the two don't go together that well. For a start, they seem to be magnetically attracted to each other. Secondly, when they do meet, they are invariably reluctant to part. And there is little that can be done about that.

So last night we were called from our beds (most of us) just before 2.30am. Pretty quickly the ALB was launched and we proceeded at best speed towards these fabled crabbing grounds. The facts of the situation filtered through pretty rapidly via Portland Coastguard. It turned out that a 12 metre yacht was firmly attached to some fishing gear in the water and the crew were unable to release it (no shame's very hard to do when there is any tide or sea running). Unfortunately neither we or Portland had direct comms with the vessel. As a result a passing ferry (the Barfleur) relayed the PanPan and subsequent details to Portland. Once they had cleared the area this roll of relaying the comms was taken over by the cruiseship Aurora who's officer of the watch (or perhaps radio officer) did an excellent job of extracting what information Portland an we needed.

About an hour later we were alongside and in a position to assess the situation. After completing a couple of laps of the vessel to ensure that we would not be similarly impeded by the fishing gear we drew up our plan of action and got on with the job of trying to grapple for the line and either part it or cut it. As luck would have it we were successful in snagging it on our first attempt and with a gentle pull it parted.

After a brief discussion with the skipper he decided that there was no damage and that he would continue his passage to Guernsey. Once it was clear that all was well once more we cleared the area and headed back to Swanage and our beds. With the boat back on the slipway at about 5.45 most of us were back in our beds by 6.30am.

A long but successful night.

Thanks to all who have voted in the Dorset cereal 'Little Blog Awards'...if you haven't yet voted please do so by following this link!

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Yesterday our pagers went off at about 11am. As is often the way on a Saturday morning I was at home on my own with the kids. However, I generally drop things and head down to the boathouse with the wee ones just to see what's happening. As it turned out yesterday the shout was cancelled just as I pulled in to the boatpark. It turns out I wasn't alone, Matt was also looking after his nipper, Jack, and came down to see what was going on. And it's a good job we did too because if both boats had had to launch they would have been very shorthanded. It makes me think, perhaps we need a childminder on the crew who can come and look after the lifeboat nippers when we get a shout!

The Dorset Muesli campaign seems to be going well. If you haven't voted yet there's still plenty of time...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Vote Lifeboat Scrapbook....

The Dorset Muesli Little Blog awards were recently brought to my attention. I thought it might be fun to enter (well, I actually thought it might be a way to attract new readers to the blog). Of course, this is much more likely to succeed as a cunning plan if you were all to vote for the Lifeboat Scrapbook. Don't worry, there isn't anything in it for me (the prize would appear to be a woollen jumper for a boiled egg)! However, everyone who votes does get entered for a chance to win some cereal so what have you got to loose?!

Go one...give it a go.

That time of year again

Not only was Tuesday evening a busy one from the perspective of having the Inspector present. We also had a number of school parties come to visit us and watch the launch. As usual they were accompanied by one of our boathouse attendants (on this occasion Angela) who explained what was gong on to them and showed them around. I never cease to be amazed at the enormous appetite that these kids have for watching what we do and asking questions about it. Despite what the media might wish you to believe...there is nothing wrong with the youth of today!

As usual we got them to do a count down to the launch which they loved.

We launched from inside which is why the aerials are not up in this picture.