Sunday, 29 November 2009


is the other name by which Jackstays are known. Whichever you prefer, Jackstay or Jackline, both terms actually refer to any line rigged securely between two points and used as a support. Indeed, the names can correctly be used to refer to: the line from which a refuelling hose is suspended when RASing, the centre line used to support an awning rigged over a hot deck, a line rigged between ship and shore along which a breeches bout could be hauled, and a line rigged to a spar on a square-rigged ship to which the head of a sail is attached.

Importantly, given their use in situations where support is required, they should always be rigged with a minimum safety factor of four, i.e. the load supported by the Jackstay, including its own weight, should not be more than one-quarter the breaking strain of the wire or rope used.

(with thanks to 'The Oxford companion to Ships and the Sea' - perhaps the most beguiling book of all time)

Saturday, 28 November 2009


Look closely at the photo and you will notice that both Becky and Steve are clipped onto the boat. Becky is attached using her harness line to the jackstay which runs along the starboard (and of course port) side of the wheelhouse of the boat. Meanwhile Steve is clipped to a similar jackstay which runs down the centre line of the foredeck. Using these it is possible to circumnavigate the entire deck in safety and while clipped on. In the sort of weather we have been having recently it has not been uncommon for crew to be clipped on while out of the wheelhouse.

For those of you interested in the pointless details of life, you might notice that Becky is wearing a pair of black boots...not a fashion statement, but simply the only pair of steel toe-capped wellington boots in the world which are small enough to fit her (and this particular brand don't make them in yellow). Dainty hey?!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Wasting police time

It is beginning to seem from news reports that our search on Tuesday night was both futile and a waste of time. One of my colleagues at school yesterday asked me if I wasn't really cross and angry at having given up a nights sleep to search for people who weren't there in the first place. be honest no, and I think everyone in the crew feels pretty much the same.

The bottom line is, we were called out by Coastguard in good faith. For as long as they have a glimmer of a suspicion that there is someone out there waiting for help we are happy to go. Indeed, we want to go.

And now? Well, at least we know that we didn't break off the search and leave someone out there praying to be rescued. All's well that ends well I say...

Thursday, 26 November 2009


To be honest, conditions for visual searching on Tuesday night were pretty poor. I've read various reports of how extreme the weather was online, some seemed realistic...others a bit over the top. Either way, chances of finding what you are looking for is drastically reduced. Luckily it is beginning to seem like there were no further people in the water and that a more complex and confusing story is beginning to unravel. I for one am just pleased that we didn't leave anyone out there unfound.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Sleepless night

So, following on from a late night at the AGM, we were woken by our pagers at about 1.20am this morning and shortly afterwards launched the ALB to join a search under way in the Poole bay area looking for a group of people, believed to be Eastern European, who were thought to have jumped off the back of the Barfleur (cross-channel ferry) wearing wetsuits and hoping to swim ashore to a better life. One of the party was found alive on a local beach and is now recovering in hospital...the others, sadly, we didn't find. At this stage it is unclear whether they in fact chose not to jump and got ashore by other means, or whether they are still out there. We re-housed at about 5.30am and washed the boat down and re-fuelled. It is likely that the search will continue today.

More news later.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Vicar of Dibley...

came to visit us tonight. No really, it was our AGM once more and our guest presenter was the new Head of the Lifeboat College, the one and only Geraldine Grainger. Understandably the pull of a major celebrity was tough to resist and the turn out (for a windy and wintry November evening) was impressive.

As it turned out, Geraldine wasn't actually the Geraldine Grainger. Still, she was a pleasant change from the usual old sea dogs wittering on and brought a certain amount of glamour to the whole evening. So thank you Geraldine for being so kind as to grace our AGM, and I apologise for any hint of disappointment you might have sensed from the audience (and for being so dull as to write a whole tedious blog post about what must seem to you like a very poor old joke)!

So there you go...another year in the bag. There were a whole host of awards for long service and good behaviour: David Haines (LMA), Russ Johnson (DLA), Gary Williams (Ex crew), John Dear (for something like a million years service as winchman), Diana for a mention for her Gold Badge and of course all the others who I forget.

Still, despite the company of the rich and famous and the lure of an awards ceremony, it was a relatively impromptu talk by Gav about his and Deasy's recent exploits with the RNLI Flood Response Team in Cockermouth which grabbed the attention and admiration of the assembled crowd. Well done Gav, fine words and fine deeds...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Safe home

Welcome home Gav and Deasy, a quick two days away but lots achieved. From a brief chat with Deasy it sounds as if they have had a memorable experience and achieved a great deal of good work...well done both of you and good to have you back safe and sound. I look forward to getting some photos and stories in due course.

I'm just back form a quick paddle in a blown out Swanage bay. The wind is dead offshore so the waves are clean but the gusts pretty unpleasant in the kayak...I quickly decided that discretion was the better part of valour and came home! Not so brave as the surfers who are still lined up there patiently waiting the perfect break.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Spare a thought...

For Deasy and Gav who are up in Cumbria at the moment with the RNLI flood rescue team. The Bournemouth Echo has picked up on the story here. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as they are with the family of Bill barker, the police officer who sadly lost his life during the flood.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Wet 'n' windy

The weather here is still wild...wet, windy and poor visibility, so I should imagine that this evening's exercise will be another pretty damp affair. Last weeks was characterised by moments when the rain was so thick it obliterated the picture on the radar (no matter how we tuned it)! Roll on summer...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Winter weather

So it's been a windy old weekend, not the first of late either. I've just found this bit of video on my camera from a few weekends ago, somehow cameras always flatten off waves but notice Steve clip his harness an idea of how lumpy it was: