Sunday, 31 January 2010

Its tough at the top

Last night was tough on Austen and I, Austen attended the annual DORSAR (Dorset Search & Rescue) dinner and I attended the NCI (National Coastwatch Institution) dinner.

I can't say how Austen has got on as he seems to have gone missing! I got a text around 21.30 but radio silence from him since, however my dinner was fabulous, and clearly this morning I need to take a long walk to off set the amount I ate.

The NCI dinner was slightly sad as it was their 1st dinner since the loss of Ian Surface their Station Manager, but it was an honour to attend and present the promotions and long service medals.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The waiting game

After the windy night.......the evening did have its very serious side and one thing is for sure, the team take "kit night" seriously.

Whilst the Station Officer is the "Custodian" of the equipment, we all take cleaning and looking after the equipment as if it our own, at the end of the day some of the kit is protection for the team.

During the check done by the Sector Manager, some minor things where flagged up (any thing serious 1) The item would be withdrawn 2) I might not be the Station Officer for much longer!
The equipment we use and the environment its used in, often takes its toll,white coloured lines resting on muddy cliff edges soon become that brown coloured line and washing them (bearing in mind you can not use anything that water) just does not get the muck out!

Then its a case of putting everything back.

Then the waiting game until its used.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Picture Boards

When we moved into the new station, some very kind person, got hold of our photo's and sorted them out for us, putting the best of the selection on display. Two boards were done, 197o's - 1980, 1980's - 1990's and we were left with instructions to get the 2000 onwards sorted ourselves!
It only took a year, but we got there this week. Visitors to the station will see the large range of things we get up to in the team.
One thing is, just because we have lots of wall space soon fills up!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Management Meeting

On Monday, Pip and I had a meeting to discuss the various matters outstanding, these included

The Building
Swanage Beach
Studland Beach
This years events in the town

So just about everything really. The good news is that things are going to plan, the down side for me is I have to write several reports on various things occuring in the town.
One of the major things is the emergency plan for Wytch Farm .....only got another month to get this in (bear in mind Im a volunteer!)

So whilst the team are busy getting the kit ready, training and training some more, some of us are sat at a computer typing away...who said Coastguarding got you out in the fresh air?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

New Equipment

Yes it arrived the new lean green machine! Coastguard have strict rules about teams buying life saving equipment so we could be in trouble for this one then, as in the case of Austen a bacon sandwich is life saving to him!

Team breakfasts will now be that little bit quicker and healthier .

Monday, 25 January 2010

George Formby Grill

I think the Station Officer has bought us a George Formby Grill, you know the ones that cook bacon.

We'll have to give it a test at Kit Night on Thursday.
Meanwhile Austen and Ian have been doing some refresher training tonight on generators and stuff, very useful actually.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Where's (Wally) Terry ???

Terry has gone missing again, so we've sent out a search party.

So lets play 'Where's Terry!'

Is he in the kitchen eating!

Is he in the stationary cupboard eating!

Is he under the MRU, playing with his!

Is he at his shop in Tenerife selling ladies' swimsuits......ooh er no missus!

There's Terry.....swimming in a pool in Mauritius, and drinking pino colades!!!!

He's concentrating,... if the moustache gets wet it shrinks!

Meanwhile in other news, the film Moby Dick is on BBC1 at 7:30 this evening.

To be fair we do miss him; come back Terry!

Saturday, 23 January 2010


The patrol headed out at 14.00, visiting the pier and talking to Diver Down. Headed off to Studland and check the gate the IRT had trouble with during the incident this week, a small adjustment soon had that fixed and sorted. Visit to Middle Beach cafe to see Paul and warm up with a coffee before returning to Swanage and refuel the MRU.

2 hours later a wash down (the MRU not the team) the vehicle and team ready to go, nothing to report and no incidents.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Fence

Just had an email from the Operations Room regarding yesterdays incident on Ballard.

Sent from the aircrew of Rescue 106 , the Portland Rescue Helicopter , it was a thank you to Tom, Eric and Austen for their efforts in lifting the lady from her position to the helicopter especially the fence ?????!!!!!!

So Ive decided that next months training will be led by the 3 on "fences" more on this soon!

Anyway sounds like an interesting incident yesterday, one to challenge the team, well done to the Ops Room, Aircraft and the team.

Our best wishes to the lady concerned.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Training Night - Animal Bag

Monday Night was training night. This week’s learning was knotwork/ropework followed by a run through of the new ‘animal’ bag and how to attach this to the cliff man (cliff technician). The bag is bright red and is to be used if we need to lift a dog from the cliff face. The zip allows the dog to be put in the dark and controlled/ calmed down – which is a job easier said than done! A dog with a broken leg is not going to like the person shoving it in a bag!

As yes we do rescue dogs, but only if an owner is intent on retrieving them (no pun intended), and we have the resources to do so. It is also excellent training for when we need to go over in anger for a person. I believe Steve has been bitten once – by a dog, not a person obviously, while Austen is sent over if the dog looks really mean.

As part of his cliff technician training Gareth got rigged up in a cliff harness, while Tom and Dee sorted the equipment and attached the animal bag. We use a device called a PAW to connect the animal bag to the cliff man. Basically an aluminium plate in the shape of an animal’s paw that allows many carabineers to be connected.

Above: The PAW connector - available for £15.99 at all good climbing shops.

To make it realistic Austen and John put some weight in it, (can’t say what went in it, but it argued a lot and was equivalent in weight to a right podgy Labrador). The Sector Manager, Pip, looked on to make sure we were doing it right. No weight was actually lifted in on the bag as this was purely a rigging test.

Above: The Animal Bag with Podgy Labrador

Another useful session was concluded with tea and guess what, ….biscuits. Thank you to the chap who donated some Jaffa cakes to the team.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Rave Alert

Austen found some orange gloves last night and was so excited he started to 'rave' dance...

How very 1990's.

Above: Austen in manic maniac mode.

Blogged from an iPhone.

Monday, 18 January 2010


Yesterday whilst the patrol was out on Studland beach, Austen spotted some washed up flares like the ones above.

In the wrong hands these items can be very dangerous and should be disposed of properly.
Up to now HM Coastguard has been collected these items once they have passed their "sell by dates", and passed to the Bomb Disposal Squads to get rid of once every six weeks.
This process is about to change (around April) due the very high cost to the Coastguard (over 2 million pounds last year) and the high demand on EOD teams.

Once the details have been confirmed we will advise where maritime flares can be dropped off, HM Coastguard will still be dealing with items washed up (which we all hope don't increase with the new procedures!)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Press Release

From today's incident

It appears the male was flown to Dorset County Hospital not Poole as stated on our main web site.

Sunday Update

Sunday, and the team’s first cliff job of the year.

Fallen climber at Anvil Point Lighthouse. Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 106 was on scene to winch the casualty and casivac to hospital. Simmons and Kitching secured the area and took details. Basically we didn’t want any climbers being blown off the cliff top by the downswash from the rotors.

Last night John and Rid were called out at 01.30am to a chap who after spending the night in the pub decided to go swimming. Not the best idea, still at least he got home safe, I believe the operations room will be calling him today to discuss his/their thoughts on the situation.

So after two jobs in 12 hours the MRU is now dirty and will need cleaning again!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Saturday Update

The snow has gone ........replaced by the heavy rain and flood warnings!

Staffing was on the light side so Gareth took the helm today and was left a list of jobs...

Can you take the MRU out and give it a run, (we have battery cut out switch which trips when the power is low so you always have enough to start the truck with)

Can you clean inside the cab, it looks like Austen has been eating his lunch inside again.

Check this problem with the radio and report to the MRCC.

After work I returned via the station.......tin of chocolates on the side appears lower than Thursday when I left last.

Hoover in the garage........nice clean MRU, fully charged up and report to MRCC re the radio.

Over to Austen and Tom tomorrow!!!!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Radio (gone) Ga Ga

The boss says we’ve got interference down the station – of the radio variety. So I did some ‘looking up’ on the internet.

"In physics, interference is the addition (superposition) of two or more waves that results in a new wave pattern. Interference usually refers to the interaction of waves that are correlated or coherent with each other, either because they come from the same source or because they have the same or nearly the same frequency. Interference in physics correponds to what in wireless communications is called multi-path propagation and fading, while the term interference has a different meaning in wireless communications.
Two non-monochromatic waves are only fully coherent with each other if they both have exactly the same range of wavelengths and the same phase differences at each of the constituent wavelengths.The total phase difference is derived from the sum of both the path difference and the initial phase difference (if the waves are generated from two or more different sources). It can then be concluded whether the waves reaching a point are in phase (constructive interference) or out of phase (destructive interference)." Wikipedia

Um ok, that’s nice and clear then; I'm glad I looked- its probably destructive interference then.

Basically the radio makes a funny noise every 10 minutes. I’ll have a look tomorrow and see what’s occurring.

I'll also check to see if there has been any 'interference' with the biscuit tin.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A long day

Starting at 9.30, today was the bi-annual check of all our equipment. A very detailed checked by the Sector Manager to ensure all our "Kit" is clean, and not damaged.

This took up to lunch time, returned to stow everything away, sweep up the front of the station having told the town council that the spring in the carpark is seriously breaking up the tarmac.

Austen popped up with his lunch, washed the floors of the station due to the high grit coating inside the building! Then sat down to do some 5pm and Austen and I will be off for a meeting at the Sector Office.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Learning the patch

Coastguard Rescue Officers turn their hands to anything..........Here CRO Kitching was clearing the ice outside the building when it turned into a geography lesson. (Gareth's clever like that!)

1st it started as the UK, then it might have turned into Wales, then Cornwall.......we then thought we managed to get the Isle of Purbeck till a slip of the spade created a new bay around Studland, whoops put that back........guess that's what they call global warming???

Monday, 11 January 2010

Following Orders

This week the Government issued instructions to councils to reduce the use of grit by 25%, well at the weekend we too followed that instruction (being part of a Government department we try and do what we are told)

Trying to get Austen to reduce his handful by 25% was tricky and in the end we settled for Austen using just one hand instead of two! (Which in my book is a reduction of 50% less grit which is ahead of our Government target).

As you can see our stocks of grit are getting low, this bag being the last supplied last year by a local business. The good news is we can order a grit bin, the bad news is there can be a 3 week delay in it arriving!!!

Gold Card

One of the team was proudly displaying his new card at training the other night. Its bright orange and gives 20% off at B&Q on Wednesday. He tells us the card is quite exclusive and only available to certain people. I believe Tom may qualify for one too!

In other news, if you're elderly make sure you wrap up warm; perhaps wear a hat?

..from an iPhone.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Does anyone know the Alpine Butterfly knot?

Best get the book out.....something is wrong here! Mmmmm

..from an iPhone

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Best get the book out....something is wrong here. Mmm



Around the country there has already been some very sad stories of accidents involving ice.

Our advice in line with other emergency services is please stay off any ice

Sunny Swanage

Saturday brings a cold but sunny day, great for walking on the hills and cliffs, but it’s still pretty icy so I’ll be watching my step. Lots of people walking along the beach early this morning; not as many as Bournemouth on a summer Saturday, but a fair few nonetheless.

I’d best get down to Nixon’s to get some de-icer and screenwash ready for next week!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Another Sad Day

Today saw the team carry out another funeral of a late Coastguard.

Les Avery B.E.M was a regular officer of the Coastguard for 25 year retiring in 1986.

I did know Les but never served under his leadership, he was one of the 1st Sector Officers in the Country when the Coastguard went through one of its many reviews.

The team carried out today's duty in the highest standards of the Coastguard Service.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Pressure Washer

We had our new pressure washer delivered tonight. Not supplied by HM Coastguard so we chipped in and bought one out of our own funds. It’s yellow and sprays lots of water which will mean we can clean the truck a bit quicker.

While Terry was sitting in the warm someone – not naming, names (Mr. Bentham!) decided to test it by having a go at washing Terry’s car.

‘How kind’ I hear readers say, yes it was a very generous act given the temperature outside is -6 degrees. Unfortunately within ten minutes Terry’s car was covered in ice – which I believe was the actual plan.

The above may open sideways depending on your software

When I say covered I mean REALLY covered, about a centimetre thick all round. To be fair I have not laughed so much in ages.

As we left Terry was trying to fathom out why his car was covered in thick ice whilst the other’s were not. As the penny dropped as to what had gone on on Terry shouted some French at us, well I think it was French; I was still laughing too much!

Twenty minutes later and I'm inside in the warm writing this blog and he’s still out there scraping his car! (I'm still crying with laughter writing this!)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Ice Ice baby

Our little spring at the station is really causing some fun! This morning we met to carry out the Bi annual check of the equipment,with snow returning we abandoned that plan and sent the boss back to Poole.

Sadly or thankfully we missed the snow, just a dusting.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Coastguard supporting the other services

Coastguard's up and down the Country are on standby to assist if the weather gets bad. At Swanage the mobile has just escorted the local SWAST responders to an incident in the town, roads are a little icy.

Severe Weather Warning

Severe Weather Warning

Weather Warning Snow Tuesday night/Wednesday

Dorset County Council Press Release 13:30 Tuesday 5th January.

Dorset County Council’s gritters are gearing up for snow and freezing rain across the county this afternoon, with heavier snowfall expected overnight.

The showers of snow, sleet and freezing rain forecast for this morning have been mostly dying out before reaching Dorset, but there may still be some scattered showers, particularly in the west.However, more significant snow is expected to move in later this afternoon and then intensify this evening and tonight.

The area of worst snowfall is hard to pinpoint but there is a risk of 5-10cm, especially over higher ground, and perhaps 10-15cm by 6am on Wednesday morning.

In the worst case, there could be accumulations of more than 20cm by midday on Wednesday as snow continues through the morning. Road temperatures will remain below zero.

Levels of salt on main roads are currently high, which will help to prevent a build up of snow.
Before the snow arrives, gritting crews are taking the opportunity to salt the county’s secondary routes. They will then be on stand-by for the main snow event from mid-afternoon today.
The county council’s fleet of 26 gritters will all be fitted with snow ploughs to clear accumulations of snow. There are also more than 50 farmers across the county contracted to plough snow with their tractors if it reaches 5cm in depth.

From this afternoon, the council will open its snow control centre at County Hall in Dorchester from where it will coordinate gritting operations through the night. The council’s depots around the county will be manned around the clock by Dorset Works Organisation staff who will be in constant contact with the central control centre.

Dorset County Council cabinet member for transport, Col Geoffrey Brierley, said:
"Our gritting teams are well prepared for the forecast conditions and salt levels will be sufficient to see us through the worst of snow and ice, with more supplies on the way this week.

"Because we have been heavily salting our priority network, we can now look to treat the secondary roads before the really heavy frost arrives. When it does our fleet will concentrate on keeping traffic flowing around the county’s main roads, using snow ploughs where necessary.
"The roads can be truly treacherous in these conditions and there may still be slippery patches even on salted roads. Drivers should reduce their speed and keep plenty of distance from the vehicle in front. If conditions are severe, you should only consider travelling if you absolutely have to."

Regularly updated information about how the winter weather is affecting road conditions and services in Dorset, including gritting updates and advice for winter driving, is available at

Monday, 4 January 2010

Winter Weather Warning!

From Dorset County Council:-

04/01/10: Big freeze expected to hit Dorset's roads tomorrow (Tuesday)

Drivers are being advised to take extra caution if travelling on Dorset's roads tomorrow morning, when freezing rain and snow is forecast to sweep across the county.

Dorset County Council's fleet of gritters will be on standby to continuously treat freezing conditions on the county's key routes from 8am, with road surface temperatures forecast to plummet to as low as -8 degrees C.

Any rain falling is likely to freeze immediately, making driving conditions extremely hazardous.

A gritting run of Dorset's priority road network was instructed at 2pm today. This will raise salt levels on the roads as a precaution against frost and ice and should help keep traffic moving across the county throughout the evening.

The weather this afternoon will be fine, becoming very cold towards the evening with some scattered snow flurries likely overnight. There will be a risk of ice and hoar frost on any damp roads.

Between 8am and 12pm, a band of rain, sleet and snow is forecast to move south-eastwards across the area. A light coating of about 1cm of snow is expected.

All road users are being advised to be aware of the conditions for tomorrow's morning rush hour when making their decisions on whether to travel. If they do set out, drivers should keep their speed down and maintain sufficient distance from the vehicle in front to be able to brake and stop safely. It can take 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions.

Even when roads have been pre-salted, rain can wash away the salt and freeze almost instantly upon hitting the surface. Recent incidents such as on the A35 Puddletown Bypass before Christmas have shown how treacherous these kinds of conditions can be, even with gritting teams treating roads continuously. If conditions are severe, road users should not travel unless their journey is absolutely essential.

Regularly updated information about how the weather is affecting road conditions and services in Dorset, including gritting updates and advice for winter driving, is available on our winter weather pages.

New Neighbours

Over the weekend this trailer arrived which will be staying till March!

Something else to keep certain members of the team out of!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Bombs, Chocolate and a Black Hole.

Half way through the bomb job-that wasn’t on New Year’s Day, Austen turned up with a tin of celebrations - you know those mini chocolate bar thingys. I can’t say where he got them from but she was very kind to supply them, thank you.

I’ve just popped over the station today to laminate an Oscar The Grouch photo – don’t ask- and found that a large number of these chocolates have since gone ‘missing in action’ notably the Topics, Snickers and Bounty bars.

The Coastguard Station appears to be some sort of black hole where biscuits and sweets just disappear.

Above: An orange black hole.

(Addendum by deputy blog to yesterday's blog - I think boss you'll find there is a formal record! 131.67 Kilos of biscuits or when stacked the combined height of two double decker buses, an elephant and small goat).

Number Crunching

Now I've finished December's paper work, that concluded 2009 and we can have a look at what was done by the team:

112 Incidents broken down as follows

4 Animal Incidents
59 Marine related Incidents
3 Miscellaneous Incident (Cant remember what these were!)
1 Pollution Incident
6 Cliff Incident
14 Medical related incident.....supporting SWAST
1 Investigation
16 Search for missing people
5 Minor Incidents

The whole team were called out 19 times and in total the team carried out 2440.25 hours of coastguard duties.

The mobile drove 2515 miles

Sunday at 3pm still remains our busiest time for call outs

No records are held on the amount of biscuits that were consumed on station.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Your No1

1st job of the year and Messrs Bentham and Kitching form the advance party to Studland...

1) Keys......found on the side in the garage
2) PPE.......check
3) Lights....check
4) Sat Nav....we haven't got one
5) Radio.......Heart or Radio 2?
6) Bacon Sandwich.......Eric and Tom finishing those...

Lets go......

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Having survived the night, the team gathered at the station this morning for a bacon roll and hot drink. (Its the only way I can confirm the team is up and functioning!)

As I turned my mobile on Portland MRCC phoned to say a local fishing boat had trawled up a piece of ordnance in his nets and a Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team were on their way from Portsmouth. So plans had to be adjusted, bacon rolls eaten quick and the team deployed.

Kitting Up

Having been left on station to wash up I headed out to Studland (heck it was busy, nearly as busy as Bournemouth Beach in the middle of summer!), on arrival the team briefed me and we were waiting for the EOD team to confirm what they had, oh what was that .......its fallen out the net.......oh well what ever it was, its been out there for 60 plus years we will wait for it to pop up again......this will be continued.

John and Gareth took the bomb squad for breakfast at Middle Beach Cafe- any excuse for bacon sarnies.