Saturday, 28 February 2009

Keep Fit

“….we could have our own gym up here!” before the realisation of what I’d just said sank in.

Both John and Tom’s eyes lit up at this point. John because he is already fit and would love the opportunity to put us all through lots of fitness training (He’s ex-commando or something like that and a warm up to him was a 12 mile jog!) and Tom, well he’s got a few weight benches and a rowing machine he wants to get rid of. (He used to play for Wasps-Rugby)

At this point Austen was in the background waving his hands frantically -but in what appeared to be slow motion - while mouthing the word ‘nooooooooo’! Brian just shook his head ever so slightly smiling nervously.

So the question is should the team get in training for the Swanage 12 mile run or not?!?

Friday, 27 February 2009

The Station Officer Returns

Just to remind the team that I'm back from tomorrow morning.

I hope the station is clean and tidy?


Text message 07:43- From Austen to Team

'Team wonderful news, Claire had a wonderful baby boy, 8 lb ish? both doing well."

Well done Claire from the Swanage Team!

(For those of you who don't know Claire she was a Coastguard Rescue Officer with the team for a number of years)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Kit Night and Colouring Books

The first Kit Night tonight down at the new station. It was great to be able to get the kit out and check and clean it in the warm for a change. This allowed us to complete the task in 1 hour rather than the usual 2! This gave more time for tea and biscuits ...and as we all know our tea is much nicer than that made by the Lifeboat chaps. (P.S. Don't tell the boss but we found out where the posh biscuits are stored - not the cheap ones we usual get - the coconut macaroons were very nice, as were the custard creams.)

In our new pigeon holes – kindly bought by Cllr Alison Patrick was a pressie for each of us all wrapped up! – again bought by Cllr Ali (as we call her). We've had her total support from day one of the station and it is easy to see why she won a district council seat last year!

FANTASTIC - a colouring book and crayons! Thank you.

(Above- US Coastguard colouring book - we don't actually fight crime much)

What! I hear you say ‘colouring books?’ Yes!!! . Now I’m 35 but it made me smile and it was a lovely thought. John has said I can use his crayons if he can colour in the boats on page 4. The Boss has got some colouring pens – he’s obviously better qualified so we have crayons while he gets grown up felt tips.

Brian had a go at colouring in a dog on page 5, he's out of colouring book practice and scribbled in crayon over the lines - the dog now looks more like an electrocuted grizzly bear with 6 legs; it is also blue.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Mamma Mia!

Sadly Austen wasn’t at the public opening of the new coastguard station. He had a good excuse as he was going to London for the weekend to celebrate his mother in law’s 60th birthday. What a nice chap he is.

We asked jokingly whether he was going to see a show. In response Ian, and I heard a little murmur from Austen.

“Sorry Aus’ we missed that, what show?” said Ian
another murmur…
“No we still can’t hear you!” said I.

“MAMA MIA” shouted Austen!

Rather than start the cheap jokes, Ian just said, ' I hear it's a good show, you'll enjoy it !'.

No doubt at kit night on Wednesday we’ll all take a chance and be singing Abba tunes at him!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Open Day

Can I just add to Deputy Blogs comments from yesterday, a very big thank you to every one that came up and had a look. A special big thank you to all those who came to help and make the day a success.

Sadly someone was upset they could'nt fit into to a Coastguard Vehicle (Its Ok you can lay down on the back seat!)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Open Day

The open day yesterday was well attended, about 250 people I reckon in total. It was good to see everyone getting involved. Lots of interested people, lots of tea, lots of biscuits and lots of questions.

The top five questions of the day were:-

Q1. Will you still be operating the Lookout at Peveril Point?

A. No and Yes! The lookout at Peveril Point will stay; manned by the volunteers of the National Coastwatch; a fine group of hard working people who give up their time for the community. Many visited yesterday, and thanks to them for coming over. (Don’t worry chaps we’ll still be over to see you!)

Q2. How many full time Coastguards are there in Swanage?

A. None. We are all volunteers. Two team members are on Immediate Response (The IRT- Team) while the other 11 are there as a Back-Up Response Team – (BURT). Under Coastguard rules we are not officially allowed to work to a rota, so we work to an ‘agreement’ amongst the team, this produced monthly.

Q3. Will you still keep your boat down at the Lifeboat Station?

A. Well we don’t have a boat, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) - - are a separate charitable body that are requested by the Coastguard Operations Room to respond. We work in close contact with them and will continue to do so. The main difference between us and them is that we make better tea. – I hope I haven’t started a tea war now!

Q4. How much do you get paid?

A. Well we receive a small amount for our time, it’s basically the national minimum wage, so £5.73 an hour. This covers training and kit maintenance and of course rescues; extra hours such as Carnival week and the open day yesterday are normally unpaid. No one on the team does it for the money! Last month I took home just under £35. One chap has asked not be paid and this allows us to run with 13 team members rather than the normal 12 – I won’t name him, but he’s a damn good bloke.

Q5, (A 5 year old lad sitting in the Rescue Vehicle) ‘What does the ‘Alert’ button do?... and can I press it?’

A. Well from the grin on his face I think he already knew what the alert button did ! (Blue Lights and Sirens!!!!) and the fact that he asked probably indicated he already knew what I’d say. ‘Best not Adam - it’s a bit loud!’

Friday, 20 February 2009

Tomorrow's the Open Day

Open day!

Saturday 21st February

13:30 to 16:00

Swanage Coastguard Station

North Beach Car Park,
De Moulham Road,

Come along to our new station, built for our community in a partnership between the Maritime Coastguard Agency and Swanage Town Council.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Read all about all about it...

The Swanage Advertiser shot through the door a few moments ago. As ever I thanked the delivery person for leaving the gate wide open. “Thanks very much I said”- without any element of sarcasm whatsoever! Next time I’m going to spring load it so that it closes at 100mph, that’ll teach ‘em including that postman. Sorry readers I’ve digressed.

Anyway Swanage Advertiser is the local rag, and we made page 9 , yes folks page 9!!!!. The newest Coastguard Rescue Station in the country, Head of Coastguard down and we make page 9. Still the advertising feature on cane furniture on page 2 was a jolly good read, apparently there’s a extra 10% of this weekend.

Did I mention on page 4 there’s some great offers in local restaurants 2 steaks for a tenner, and page 7’s Lonely Hearts Column sees a Lady 61 Easy-going thoughtful likes country pubs, cinema and eating out.

While the front page reports a robbery at the Swanage Cake Shop

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


For our readers 'out of town' some snowy photos from the other week. We don't get snow very often down south. Although being a Cornishman to my mind Swanage is actually up north.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Ian's Pressie

As a thank you for organising the new building the team bought Ian a little pressie - a 'moo-frame'.

???What I hear you ask ???

A 'Moo' Frame

Well it's a frame that holds twenty photos the size of cigarette cards (or bubblegum cards depending on your age!) The idea is that the photos can easy be changed over the year.

...and thanks to Lifeboat John who first introduced us to the company Moo . Great idea John.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Coastguard

My good friend and No1 fan of the Coastguard found the following links on U tube.

The films are old (and I mean old!) they are information films about the Coastguard and was made in 1972 for the 150th Anniversary of the Coastguard.

Whilst the equipment, clothing and hair cuts have changed, the basic duties of the Coastguard are still relevant now as they were in the film.

For you Lifeboat fans, the old boats shown here are some what old, not like the modern and fast boats of today. The helicopters, well take a look not sure I fancy a flight!

So whoever put them on U tube - thank you, its good to see our history being kept alive.

Station being used

The other day, I'm busy doing a few jobs around the building when Rid burst through the door.

"Can I come and finish my course work up here?

So I lost my desk for the afternoon!

"Rid, did you ever go up to Peveril Point and use the desk?"

"No far too cold!!!!"

Well at least someone is on station!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

John Bentham

Some of you may remember that John was awarded "A letter of Thanks" from the Chief Coastguard in 2008 for his work at MRCC Portland during the Napoli incident.

I'm pleased to say, just before the opening of the station John was presented with the letter by Rod Johnston.

John's role was to sign people in and out of the building and generally look after the security of the building during the operation.

Well done John, we are proud of you.

Picture Suzie Hall

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Team Effort

Picture By Suzie Hall

First of all my special thanks to Suzie who took some great pictures of our opening day.

The Team photo,

Back row left to right Paul Brown, John Bentham, Gareth Kitching! (sorry I missed you 1st time around) Steve Lacey.

Front row left to right Brian Craker, Ian Brown Chief Coastguard Rod Johnston, Austen Rockett, Pip Hall, Tom Simmons.

Sadly Eric Hudson was stuck in the snow in Dublin, Terry Thompson was working, Paul Brassington had been on night, and Richard Curtis was stuck doing an exam!

Friday, 13 February 2009

The painting

On the day of the official opening, the painting by Antonia Phillips was unveiled. The reason for the painting in the 1st place was to mark our move from Peveril Point to North Beach Car Park.

Starting in the top left hand corner, there is a picture of the Old Landrover at the station before the extension in 1982.

Then there is the silver medal presented to Mr Lose the Chief Coastguard in 1875 for the rescue of the Wild Wave on Peveril Point.

The Coastguard lookout before it was closed and handed over to NCI.

Me going down the cliff on a rescue with the stretcher

Along the bottom from left to right.

The breeches buoy.

Austen, Tom and John on exercise at Peveril Point.

Whisky Bravo landing at Peveril.

Finally the blue print for the new station.

Each team member was presented by a print of the paint, this was kindly donated by Mr Nick Storer and presented by the Mayor to the team members.

If anyone is interested in purchasing a copy of the print then please get in touch, if there is enough interest we may make them available.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Open Day

On the 6th February we sadly couldn't invite everyone we wanted so are opening the new station to the public on :

Saturday 21st February

North Beach Car Park De Moulham Road Swanage.

13:30 to 16:00

Subject to weather and operational commitments

Come and join us for a look round.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Open or Opened!

Those of you who saw the Echo, will have seen a picture of the Chief Coastguard opening the new station.

Sadly they used the one photo I hoped they wouldn't. It had the plaque right behind him.

Now those of you who are sharp eyed will notice there is a slight problem with the wording on it. Sadly an error at the quarry had the wording as "Open" instead of "Opened".

The quarry are making us another plaque but it wasn't ready for the opening and we had hoped that not too many would notice!

I had a lovely phone call from the Echo today asking if we had spotted it!....well yes someone did and we are going to change it, who said these things were easy to sort out?

Flood Patrol

As Ian said, we deployed a patrol Monday evening to monitor the risk of flooding in the local area. Given the snow and rain over the last few weeks the ground is saturated so the prolonged and heavy rain experienced ran straight into the streams.

The river at Avenue Garage was particularly high - about 2 inches from overtopping the bridge. This river runs through the pitch and putt course and then drains through underground tunnels to flow out at the ‘Banjo Jetty’ at the bottom of Victoria Avenue. The problem last night was a combination of the huge volume of water flowing in the river and the high spring tide due at 9:00 which caused the water in the tunnel to back up!

Apologies for the photo but it was tipping it down.

If the bridge overtopped then there would have been flooding.

Environment Agency Flood Map for Swanage can be found here (Click):-

We then moved onto Corfe Castle via the back roads, to meet up with the police who had shut the road by the railway viaduct. Apparently a load of their cones and signs had ‘gone for a swim’ and are probably now bobbing around Brownsea Island. Again the bridges here were close to capacity; the river was running at about 2-3 cubic metres a second which is a lot of water! Here’s Austen doing some inspecting – being VERY careful not to fall in!

Then back to Swanage Police Station for a cuppa - thanks Penguin or is it Puffin?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Im in trouble

Just had a call from Gareth....the ******** alarm is going off at the station.

Gareth pops rounds, can not see any thing wrong......

Shows intruder in the hall way.......

Oh I think that's my fault, I had left the kitchen door open to try and dry the place out and the door had closed.

I'm very sorry to the residents.


Right after those nice words about Ian yesterday, it’s back to business as usual (i.e. Insubordination). Here’s one of him doing some stand-up comedy.

Those of a nervous disposition please read no further.

My wife's gone to the West Indies
-No, she went of her own accord.

-My wife's gone mad in Venezuela
-Yes, absolutely loopy

-My wife's gone to the Indian coast
-Phwoar! I'll say!

-My mother-in-law has gone to St Petersburg.
-Is she Russian?
-No, she's taking her time.

-My wife's gone to Northern Italy
-I should think so, We've been married for 20 years.

-My wife's had an accident on a volcano
-No. -She broke her leg.

-My wife's gone to the Welsh border.
-Search me.

-My daughter's gone to the botanical gardens.
-Yes, it was rather busy.

-My wife's had an upset tummy in Laos
-Yes, constantly.

-My son's gone on a singing tour of South Korea
-No, R&B

-My wife caught a cold in the Gulf
-Yes, she was coughing up greenies for weeks

-My son's parents are from Croatia
-No, they're still happily married.

-My wife went to a very bad concert out East
-Terrible. Yes, and the rest of the band were rubbish too.

-My daughter went on a sailing course in Poole
-In Dorset?
-Yes, she' d recommend it to anyone.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Doing Our Bit

As I type, the DSO and CRO Kitching are patrolling the streets in the vehicle to ensure no one is stuck in flood water.

High tide is due soon and at the request of a local Councillor, the IRT have deployed to support the other services in the town and keep an eye on the community.

With the weather due to be bad over night, I suggest you stay in your warm houses!


A text message comes through to my phone from Ian the Station Officer ….

‘The Coastguard Rescue Station at Peveril Point has now closed after 167 years of service…

For a brief moment I felt quiet sad. I know team member Eric who missed the opening as he was snow-bound at Dublin airport felt the same; all other team members too! But then I sat and thought about the opportunities that the new station will bring to the team. At this point I sent a text back to Ian saying he should be proud of what he had achieved over the last 6 years.

Within a minute I receive one back from Ian, gracious as ever saying, ‘Thanks, but it was a team job, well done all round’.

Yes I suppose it was a team job everyone from the MCA, the architects, construction guys, Swanage Town Council etc. etc. But the whole process would not have happened without Ian’s management skills …no wait …leadership skills.

I genuinely think that without his quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) persistence, the building simply would not have happened. To thank him the team bought him a little present.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Smile Please

Then we had the official photograph

...and the unofficial photograph!

Nice to see all enjoying themselves.

The opening

Pip Hall the East Dorset Sector Manager opened the event, and handed over to the Chief Coastguard to officially open the station.

Rev John Wood from St Mary's Church blessed the station and the team

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Station is official open

At 15.26 today, Austen and I closed the Peveril Point Coastguard Station down for the last time.

We broadcast on Channel zero (Coastguard Channel) to Portland Coastguard that the station was closing and transferring to our new site. We left with the final trailer load of equipment and the team is now operational from the new site (there is a little sorting to do but we can work from there)

Anyway more on that in the next few days.............

Yesterday, the biggest worry was the weather, however at 9.30 we had a phone call to say the Chief Coastguard had arrived in Swanage so I started to breath again.

To start with the weather in Swanage wasn't to bad, however as the morning went on the snow started to fall.

The visitors started arriving (about 60 of them), sadly some couldn't make it due to the weather, however my 1st task was to meet the Chief, the Regional Director and the Coastal Safety Manager at Peveril Point to show them what we were leaving. We found out the Chief Coastguard remembers Swanage well as when he was a "baby" Coastguard he remembers doing his cliff training in the area.

So with Peveril behind us, off we went to the new station to be greeted by the team standing in a line in the sleet.

The Chief was pleased to see the team lined up but quickly asked them to return in doors due to the cold!

More tomorrow.

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Nation waits no longer

What a day, I'm sorry that this is short but I'm rather tired,

Its official, after six years work we finally have our new station.

The station was official opened by the Chief Coastguard Rod Johnson.

Sadly I didn't get many photo's as I was busy, but we are hoping that some official photos will be out soon.

The weather nearly beat us, but thankful most made it and hopefully everyone has made it home safe.

More on the day over the next few days.

Thank you to everyone who made it so special - Ian

Suited and Booted

We are under orders to turn out nice.

So polished shoes, freshly pressed Coastguard trousers, and shirt, black tie, ‘woolly pulley’ with epaulettes; not forgetting clean socks and pants. Those with medals may were them.

(…no Austen the Swanage Junior School 25m backstroke medal does not count).


Weather Report: It’s raining in Swanage, but thankfully no Snow or Ice.

Traffic Report: Quick check on BBC has found that the roads are fine through Poole and Wareham for our visitors. The Sandbanks Chain ferry is operating normally.

Food Report: The food for the guests after the presentation is coming on nicely in my oven.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The true picture

1st of all as we couldn't get in the station last night, so we had to clean the truck and drink tea

As Deputy blog has pointed out, it was a day of waiting and not doing much!!! (do you believe us?)
The 1st job today was to create the largest dust storm in the building so no one could see what we were doing inside the building.

The heavy maintenance team in action, sorting the draws out now the fridge has turned up.
Austen turned up to offer advice, in this picture Tom was dusting and that's not a electric screwdriver in Gareth's hand.....Austen was reading the box.
After a hard days work, the "workers" had to be fed for their really super efforts today to get the building ready for tomorrow's opening.

Austen practising, guess the visitor!

So Tom and Gareth...Thank you for your hard work today all round the building, Sandy, Rachel, Suzie for cleaning, John & Austen for various bits and the vehicle, Pip for running about doing the shopping and handling the phone calls, Eric for the ladder and me.....well supervising of course!

Now I believe we only have one mega problem for tomorrow's opening....the weather!

What's the Hold up?

We’ve all been busy bees today.

The furniture delivery chaps turned up at 8.00 this morning; well technically they turned up at 17.00 last night from Huddersfield and had to sleep in the lorry. Why? Well sadly it was because we still didn’t have the say so from the project manager’s Parsons Brinkerhoff to get into the building.

The furniture making chaps then turned up, from London

Andy the Construction Manager from Farnrise Construction and his brother came down to sort out some doors and 2 screws. Yes they travelled from Portsmouth to fix two screws.

Some other chaps from Southampton came to fix the roof.

The team turned up from around Swanage.

We still haven’t got the say so Parsons Brickenhoff to enter the building so we spent the day not cleaning the station for the Grand Opening tomorrow, and not putting whiteboards on walls. Oh and we did not eat fish and chips in the new building either. ….nor did we stuff the empty chip wrappers in Ian’s motorcycle helmet.

It’s been a good day not doing stuff.

Official Apology:

Following concerns raised by the boss I offer an unreserved apology to Somerfields in Swanage, who I referred to early in the week as ‘Scummerfield’.

I’d just like to go on record to say that this name is purely an affectionate term for the business ( ‘Woolies’), and that I was not commenting on their clientele, or staff, or food. I shop there and must say their range of cold meats and pork pastry products is second to none; the two for one offer on chicken wrapped in bacon with a cheese sauce is particularly popular this week.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Nation Waits Part 3

Nothing concrete (no pun meant) but we could be OK for Friday's opening. Various phones calls indicate that matters are being resolved but no emails or keys to confirm this.

More soon, the team are off to polish the truck and equipment just in case.

It was cold

Monday down the station (that's the old station at Peveril Point), I was checking the building when I discovered the little dinghy had escaped!

We use the dinghy for our school talks (its not Austen's really) somehow it had tried to escape, thankfully filled with water which had then frozen!

Again a reminder always hold on to those inflatables they can be swept away!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Nation Waits part 2

Sadly no update today re the building, other than it did look pretty in the snow (see earlier pictures)

Despite the previous comment on "The Nation Waits" yes the residents are waiting!

However so is the Station Officer.....we have the grand opening on Friday, so lets just hope it is ours soon otherwise the opening will be held in the car park.

For information we are holding two opening ceremonies, one this Friday (sorry invitation only) then a public one soon, however not having the building yet I can not confirm the date just yet.

A small reminder

On Monday the IRT were called to Studland after a container of "acid" was washed up on the beach.

We have been having some strong easterly winds over the last few days so the chances increase for things washed up.

Please can we remind everyone, that should any thing wash up on the beach, please do not touch it, dial 999 for the Coastguard and we will arrange for the safe collection by necessary agency.

Snow Business

For the blog readers outside Swanage here are some snowy photos. We don’t often have snow because of the coastal climate, and to be fair it’s only 1cm deep, if that.

No doubt the Co-op will run out of milk and bread again.

...and yes boss I was out taking these photos before 7.00 am! On my own, in the snow, braving it in my sandals, just so we had a topical blog today.

Update...just started raining.
Update 2.....panic buying of tinned pineapple slices in Co-op and Scummerfield.

Another little job

When the building finally arrives, there are lots of little jobs to be done.

Regular readers will have noticed the above plate has been removed from the door of the old station and before it goes up at the new place, it will have a little treat.

I think the last time I painted this was when I took over as Station Officer, that was six years ago, so I think it needs a freshen up before we but it back up.

Now some of you will want to know how and why we have this .............sorry you will have to wait until I finish painting it!

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Nation waits

As the country grinds to a halt in snow and freezing temperatures, the team waits to hear the fate of the new building.

Lots of phone calls, emails, fax's are going on as we speak to get those final checks done before the keys can be handed over.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The east wind

Peveril Point in a cold easterly wind. On days like this you understand why the Coastguard built their station there to protect seafarers from the dangerous ledge back in 1800's.
Times have changed and so has the Coastguard that's why we so urgently need new premises to meet modern rescue work.