Saturday, 29 August 2009

The day of the Dragon

Powerboat racing is fast, exciting and not without it's fair share of danger. Today we were called out to assist with the rescue and recovery of the crew of one of the boats taking part in the Classic Cowes Torquay Cowes offshore race. It would seem that they had experienced a problem with their exhaust manifolds and before they were aware of the severity of the problem their craft had filled with too much water for their pump to cope with.

By the time we arrived on scene the vessel was mostly submerged with only the last 10 - 15 feet of the bow remaining visible above the waters surface. Luckily both of the crew had been recovered safely and uninjured by one of the event safety craft.

Once we had got the tow rigged we began a lengthy tow back towards Old Harry we were joined by Poole ILB with several more pumps so that they could try coming alongside and pumping the boat dry.

Unfortunately this didn't work so we decided to tow the vessel into shallow water where we would anchor it safely for a suitably equipped salvor to come and deal with it later.

Poole ILB assisted with this before heading back off towards Poole...hopefully they found their way alright ;-)

And there it is, safely in the shallows ready to be salvaged. Rare is the occasion when we don't manage to bring the casualty vessel ashore...on this occasion it just wasn't possible with the equipment we had. Ultimately we have to remind ourselves that our job is purely to save life...the toys just have to look after themselves sometimes.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lost at sea

It would appear that our speciality this season is becoming the recovery of errant inflatables. A couple of weeks ago we were beginning to think that we were having a quiet season and suddenly we are almost as busy as we can remember.

yesterday we launched to a report of a motor cruiser which had lost it's life-raft overboard and had managed to get the painter or drogue line wrapped around it's propellers.

The raft proved hard to recover due to it being full of water so we put Daz into it to bail some of the water out. Once that was done it was recovered to our deck and the vessel taken in tow back towards Swanage.

After a couple of mishaps we got underway and returned to the bay where the vessel was attached to our mooring so that a diver could have a look at the props to see what could be done.

Soon afterwards all of the wayward rope was cut from the shafts and props and the vessel continued on it's way to Poole.


It turns out that the card shop didn't win the competition...they came second. Tilly Whims came first and Blooms the florist came third. Well done to you all and apologies for the mistake.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Congratulations are in order for the Card Shop in Swanage who are this year's winners of the much coveted 'Swanage Lifeboat Lifeboat Week Window Dressing Shield'.

This is hotly contested each lifeboat week by most of the shops in Swanage but, my girls had to agree with the judges, this years' win was richly deserved by the Card Shop.

Well done to all who took part and in particular the Card Shop!

Friday, 21 August 2009

My afternoon...

Well, where do I start...we had two shouts today.

The first was somewhere about a mile south of Anvil Point light and involved collecting a dinghy which had become filled with water and snapped it's painter. Please don't ask me why we were asked to deal with this 'emergency' as I really wouldn't be able to answer (without becoming incoherent), however, we did launch, we did spend 30 seconds hooking it with our boathook, we did lift it carefully on deck and then turn for home where we put it on our mooring ready to be collected by it's owners later in the day. Presumably they were happy not to have had to deal with it themselves...

No sooner were we re-housed and on our way home, or back to work (for those who have the miss-fortune to have to work during the months of July and August), than our pagers went off again. This time we were tasked to head to St Alban's head to search for a yacht which had been spotted seemingly in trouble. When, after an hours searching in vain, nothing was found, we headed back to the boathouse.

The only exciting part of the afternoon was for Sam who had the first shout of her lifeboating career...well done Sam, you acquitted yourself well and I look forwards to the beer soon!

In the absence of a photo worth's another of the lifeboat service, this time from the camera of Rev Will Watts.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Another perspective

Gorgeous and talented Sophie (long suffering partner of B) was kind enough to send me this photo last night. Like many, Sophie is one of the unsung supporters of Swanage Lifeboat. She's almost always there in the thick of it when help is required and seems to happily tolerate 'B' spending endless hours at the boathouse. Of course there are dozens more who, like Sophie, support us in the same thanks to all of you for your fabulous help and support.

The photo shows almost the entire crew aboard the Mersey after a long weekend. Somehow everyone looks happy and relaxed, just how it should be. Thanks Sophie, a lovely photo.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Lifeboat service

Somehow I've managed to miss out Saturday night...needless to say it was a great night and the crowd seemed to be larger than ever before.

After a busy day yesterday, including an impressive helicopter display, it was time for a final clear up and then our annual 'Lifeboat Service'. Both boats were re-housed then launched again to make their way round to the Pier for the service...once more conducted by Rev Tony Higgins, our Lifeboat Chaplain (and a previous crewmember I might add).

There was a great crowd in support and, in a typical Martin style twist, our good Coxswain had decided that we should expand the service and turn it into more of a service of the sea with a variety of local boats present. What a great idea, we even had the joy of seeing one of the Gigs filled with four generations of the extended Marsh family. Wonderful (and welcome to the lifeboat family Cameron)!

Roger had cut short a mackerel trip to join us on Precious.

Geoff Marsh and Jeff Lander had also made the effort to attend so a big thanks to them too.

And so it was time for a final circuit round the bay before a thorough wash-down then rehouse. A busy but, successful and mostly enjoyable weekend.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


As I type the build-a-boat competition ins underway. Equipped only with one sheet of ply, a few screws, one tube of glue and a few other bits and bobs, each team has to build a craft capable of navigating a course on the sea with one crew member onboard.

Two teams turned up additionally equipped with a case of Stella, some potent looking cider and a sack load of enthusiasm (though seemingly little understanding of the art of Naval Architecture).

Nick Harris' creation is looking good.

And Team Brian & George are creating an optimistic design once again.

The sea trials take pace at about 4.30 this afternoon so make sure you come down to generally provides a few laughs!

Naturally both our Lifeboats will be launching to provide whatever assistance may be required!

Let's partay!

So last night was the first big night of the Lifeboat Weekend. What a party it was. Coming as it did at the end of probably the best day of summer so far, it was an incredible success.

The boys behind the bar seemed to be having a great time as usual though they were as busy as I can ever remember it being.

My mate John Deering and his band, the Wiseleys, came and played two fantastic sets which really got the evening rocking. As with all the bands this year they gave their time and incredible talent for free...nice one guys! If you are reading this in the West London area and need an awesome party band, give them a call...

KT was awesome as ever on her Viola (like a violin but bigger and deeper I am told).

NuffSaid also turned up for yet another tremendous performance. Without doubt Nick and his gang are turning out to be one of the premier acts in the area. Great stuff which really got the night off to a rocking start. Thanks!

And the crowd loved it all.

If you missed it, come on down to Prince Albert Gardens this evening and witness the fun all over again.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Flag Day

So today, as well as being the first big night down at Prince Albert's Gardens, is also the day when our supporters in town hit the streets and shack their tubs raising money for the RNLI. I've just had a quick scout around town and here are a few photos of the great and the good doing their stuff.

Katrina (Mrs Cox'n) was out with one of her lovely dogs shaking her funky thing outside of Boots.

Meanwhile Robin was lost in translation with a couple of visitors from Latvia.

Almost every shop door had some kind supporter encouraging passers by to help us in what we do.

Katrina's sister, Belinda was there too on the sunny side of the street.

Well done and thanks to you all for you valued support...

Too many Florence nightingales
Not enough robin hoods
Too many halos not enough heroes
Coming up with the goods
So you though you'd like to change the world
Decided to stage a jumble sale
For the poor, for the poor

(The Housemartins - Flag Day)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Race night

Tonight we launched the ALB for the Swanage Sailing Club RNLI pennant race and the Swanage Sea Rowing Club RNLI Gig race. The weather was fair with a pleasant breeze so altogether a great evening.

Dave and Rob were both onboard.

The race got off to a smooth start for once with no dramas.

Our very own Lifeboat Operations Manager was taking part and seemed to be doing reasonably well.

In the rowing Martin was taking part with a team from the Gig club who looked pretty well drilled.

And our very own (and recently victorious) RNLI gig crew were taking part...though sadly less success than they are used to.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Never stop learning

Yeah...I know it's lifeboat week, and I'm duty bound to be in Swanage in the thick of it. However, for a variety of reasons, I have in fact ended up way up North in Scotland visiting family. Whilst here, I decided that I would try to escape and finally gain myself some sort of kayaking qualifications (BCU 3 star award).

To this end, I spent yesterday in the company of a certain Gordon Brown (no...not that one!), mostly upside down in the water, immediately under the new road bridge joining Skye to the mainland.

Gordon runs a company called Skyakadventures which is a Kayak guiding and coaching company based on the Isle of Skye. Gordon is rightly regarded as something of a Kayak guru and I have to say, I certainly felt yesterday that I was in the presence of some kind of 'Yoda' type character.
During the 8 or so hours I spent with Gordon (and fellow pupil Alan), I learnt more than I had ever thought possible about how to control my boat and myself out there on the water. Today I feel stiff and quite aware that I have used muscles which have not been used for some time. Also that I need to spend a great more time in my boat and out on the water. Fantastic!

So, for those of you with an interest in kayaking: if you are ever in the market for some coaching or guiding, make sure you look up Gordon and his partner Morag, I doubt that you could do any better. Thanks Gordon...

Do or do not. There is no try.

Sunday, 9 August 2009


This is my wife, she is called Liz, she is half Scottish and half Swedish. Something about this curious genetic and cultural soup has left her afflicted with a mild sort of insanity. The latest manifestation of this has been a strange desire to swim long distances in the sea. Her latest plan is to swim from Swanage to Bournemouth during September!

Clearly she is utterly bonkers. However, if you would like to follow her progress in training, and during the actual event, you can do so here on her recently started Blog.

She is doing the swim to raise money for the Lewis Manning Hospice in Poole. This is a superb local hospice which provides palliative care for local residents with Cancer and other serious conditions. She has a 'Just Giving' page where she is aiming to raise £1000. Perhaps you could see if you can help her to reach this goal? If you feel inclined to do so you can find her page here.


(Oh, did I forget to mention that a certain local lifeboatman has been drafted in to provide the rescue cover)?

Friday, 7 August 2009

Help. I need somebody. Help...

Each Saturday in August there are fireworks in Swanage organised by the Carnival committee. These are intended to continue the great work and fundraising done during Carnival week and raise further finds for local organisations. A week on Saturday (15th August) the collection will be in aid of the RNLI. For this to be truly successful we somehow need to find roughly 50 volunteers to assist us with shaking buckets. If, by any chance, you are reading this, will be in Swanage on the 15th August and would be willing to assist, can you please give Dave a ring at the boathouse (01929423237) and let him know. Ultimately the more people there are out there shaking buckets, the more money will be raised so why not give it a go?

If you are keen (and have let Dave know that you are available and willing to help) you will need to meet on the seafront by the Clock tower at 21:30. You will be finished by about 22:15 and can then come along for a fundraising pint and a dance to the Reptiles at Prince Albert Gardens!

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me?

(The Beatles - Help)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Taking it easy...

Last night's exercise was intended to be a quiet one so that the crew could meet together and plan in detail some of the logistics of lifeboat week. Both boats went to sea but not for a heavy-weight exercise...more an exercise in getting wet and checking that everything was as it should be on the ILB.

On completion we had an informal meeting and Martin had the excellent idea of providing a BBQ with steak baguettes and a beer or two. Altogether a great idea and as you can imagine...highly popular with the crew!

Regular blog reader, Simon Dubbin and his lovely family are down staying for a week or two in one of the Coastguard cottages. It's great to see them again and to be reminded that the Swanage Lifeboat family stretches much further than we often realise. I for one am constantly amazed by the extraordinary support that we get from folk. Humbling...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Back to base...

As we returned from yesterday's shout, those crew who had been left behind were finishing swapping over our own ILB which had just returned from it's refit.

After being offloaded from the truck into the water, it was motored round to our slipway, before being expertly driven back onto it's trolley by Tom in a virtuoso display of helmsmanship. Tonight it was taken to sea for a sea trial and by all accounts it performed very well.

Welcome back Jack!

By the way Gav, 'Stoical' is defined by Wikipedia as: Enduring pain and hardship without showing feeling or complaint. It stems from the Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno who said; "a Stoic achieves happiness by submission to destiny."

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Pronounced 'May day', is a french term meaning 'Help me'. It is derived from the French verb 'aider' which means 'to help'. A mayday situation is one in which a vessel, aircraft, vehicle, or person is in grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance. In maritime terms (and they seem to be under threat from certain quarters) a call of MAYDAY triggers the highest possible level of response from those who hear it. Hence the urgency of our launch today.

And the thing is with Lifeboat shouts, they are never expected. Just when you think all is quiet and everything is going according to plan something turns up out of the blue.

The plan for this morning, as it happens, was to make a shedload of jam sandwiches for my younger daughter's 5th birthday party. As it happens, this wasn't to be. Just as I was reading Eve's (7 years old) book with her, our pagers went off, and I found myself racing down to the boathouse.

And it turned out it was one of those rather odd shouts where you are out there, but nobody seems to understand exactly why! A MAYDAY call had been heard on channel 16 VHF by various parties, yet no one had comms with the MAYDAY casualty and no one had a firm position. Consequently we (and Beowulf, a passaging lifeboat and rescue 106) spent a rather fruitless few hours stooging about the channel looking for something or nothing.

Gav, as usual, managed to make an art-form of stoicism as he helmed during our close-in search of the cliffs from Anvil point to Chapman's pool.

And, when all is said and done, all that we found was this forlorn looking packing case, floating on it's lonesome, about a mile South-East (135 degrees) of St. Alhelm's head.

Let's hope that it was a hoax...

Here's to us, one more toast, and then well pay the bill.
Deep inside, both of us, can feel the autumn chill.
Birds of passage, you and me,
We fly instinctively.
When the summers over and the dark clouds hide the sun.
Neither you nor I'm to blame, when all is said and done.

(When all is said and done - ABBA)

All quiet

Consistency round here seems to be a bit of an issue just now. There has been little in the way of shout action of late but most crew have been busy with all sorts of Carnival stuff.

We won the 'It's a knock Out' competition, Daz and Steve swan incredibly well in the 'Bay Swim', I understand that we won the 'Pub Gig Racing Challenge' too.

Anyway, despite all that it has been quiet here on the blog due in part to Liz being on holiday for a week and me wanting to spend plenty of time in the real world with her and the kids!

Anyway, Lifeboat week is fast approaching and there is an exercise this Wednesday so I will try and b more diligent over the coming weeks.

Watch this space.