Wednesday, 31 March 2010


On getting to the station on Monday night, we found the vehicle parked at this very strange angle. I won't name names but the excuse given was that is gave more room to get to the clothing on the other side.........right, can I suggest next time you might as well use the other garage door!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Winter Returns

The snow is returning to some parts of the UK and other parts will have some very heavy rain and strong winds.

If your heading out over the next few day, please check the weather forecast.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Jurassic Coast Challenge

It’s all gone a bit 'Hound of the Baskervilles', said Gareth and he and Steve drove the truck up onto Ballard Down yesterday afternoon. He was referring to the thick, swirling fog that suddenly enveloped the hills much like in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel set on Dartmoor. (Ok Ok so there’s no big killer dog roaming around but you get my drift. - by the way if you haven't read the book it's Stapleton who's the baddy)

'Yes', shouted Steve. 'It is a bit foggy'

On top of Ballard the visibility was down to 5-10 metres.

A number of runners appeared out of the fog and approached the truck asking for directions. It quickly became apparent that approximately 250 runners and walkers were competing in the Jurassic Coast Challenge – a 78+ mile event along the coastline run over 3 days. The chaps were understandably cold and tired and disorientated by the fog.

To be fair they were all well prepared, but the Coastguard view was that tired people making decisions in thick fog on narrow cliff paths was a serious cause for concern. Any fallers or those injured would probably, despite the checkpoints on route, result in a major search and rescue operation. Given the fog there would be no helicopter search assistance either.

After speaking to the event manager a marshal was ferried to the top to provide an intermediate checkpoint and guide people away from the danger area. Steve and Gareth then dropped down to the Peveril Point in Swanage to brief competitors on the deteriorating conditions before they were sent out in one final wave of runners that could be monitored before night closed in. The final 30 runners finished in Studland safe and well about an hour and half later. All in all it was a long day for the patrol but well worth it.

Well done to all the competitors who took part and finished the race.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

8 hours, cold and wet

Hats off to Steve and Gareth this afternoon, having been called out just after midday to a report of a fire at the Western Mile Marker, they carried on with a patrol.

Heading up into the clouds covering Ballard, they discovered a racing competition going on with lots of people either running or walking. Weather conditions were getting worse and several people were asking for directions so the chaps headed off to liaise with race organisers.

A Marshall was collected and taken up on to Ballard to help direct competitors, mean while the organisers were checking with their checkpoints to ensure no one was missing.

The patrol continued to drive around the area and have just returned to the station just short of 8 hours, in conditions which haven't been pleasant.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Flares and Smokes

These two ‘things’ washed up last month on Studland beach, and were found by the patrol. They look brand new and are hand flares carried by sea kayakers and dinghy sailors. Always good to have as a back up to a VHF radio which all should carry. They’ve now been properly disposed of.

Great bits of kit, nice and small so easy to stow, reliable, and safe if used correctly. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

Keen eyed readers will see one is a red flare for catching attention at distance; the other an orange smoke for giving a position to a helicopter or boat when closer to the scene.

Cost for insuring your life... £12.40 for flare, £7.10 for smoke...and that’s incl vat. (I thought vat was on ‘luxury items’ not basic safety equipment)

Bargain really, escpecially when a pint of cider is now well over £3.00- thanks darling.

By the way, if you see one on the beach give us a call on 999 and we’ll come and sort it out. Never be tempted to pick them up even if they do look new as these really can do some damage in the wrong hands.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


The other week I had to pop over the coastgaurd station because of teenagers razzing around in cars and skateboards under the station’s halogen light.

Well tonight......

Above: Puddy cat looking all innocent...what me Guv? Nah Wanna me scrapping!

Well tonight the neighbours’ cats are using the light to have a right proper cat fight. Unbelievable noise.

So I went over and had a word.

Dive Dive Dive

Last night we had a Watch Officer from Portland Coastguard come and talk to us about diving, well what should happen when things go wrong.

There is a new form to be filled in by the team when we have a minute and this is sent to the Coastguard so they can be collated.

Hopefully we can prevent some accidents by education and ensuring the diver has the correct qualification for the dive they are about to do. A dive course whilst on holiday in some nice hot country is a little different to diving around the shores of the UK and this is one cause of accidents we have seen in the area.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Danger Mines Part 2

A little more research on the net and I discovered the following.

The tragic event happened on Friday 13th 1955.

Mine clearance took place in 1945, repeated in 1947 and again in 1949, eventually a clearance certificate was issued on the 17th February 1950.

Of the 117 mines laid in 1940, 5 were lifted in clearance there was evidence of the existence of 54, the remaining 58 are still unaccounted for.

The five young lives lost on the beach, one body was never located despite a major search by the Coastguard from St. Aldhelms right round to Poole Harbour and all the way to the Isle of Wight.

In the report made by the Officer who did the clearance, and from the inquest in 1955 it was stated the bomb that killed the children had probably been swept inshore by a gale.

Now I have the date of the incident I shall be researching our station logs to see what else I can find. If any readers have any information on the beach defences or the incident itself, please do get in touch at

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Danger Mines!

Readers may have read the news reports that Robert Keys MP has asked for mine sweepers to check Swanage Bay and the general area for several wartime mines never accounted for after the war.

Mr Keys was caught up in a tragedy in 1955 when he along with other children from the Forres School were playing on the beach when one found a metal tin which turned up to be a mine. Five young people lost their lives that day and again (I'm told for the 3rd time) the beach was swept again to check for ordnance left from the war.

The media seems to have picked up only part of Mr Keys comments, this was a debate in the Houses of Parliament on cluster bombs around the world and the dangers left after wars, he used his own child hood as an example.

It would be wrong of me to say that our waters are totally free of these items as thousand of wartime items are still found around the whole of the UK , only two weeks ago a very large mine was discovered on Portland harbour 60 years after being dropped, Portland harbour was a busy Naval Port and for many years had many warships visit, not one of these picked this device up.

I have to say its the 1st time Ive heard that some mines are still out standing, four years ago thousands of tonnes of sand were poured on our beach, nothing was found then, diggers dug down very deep to take up the wooden groynes, several items of wartime defences were found but no ordnance was found. Swanage is a very popular diving centre and in 20 years I can only think of two examples where a reported mine was reported in Swanage, one turned out to be a lobster pot and the other discovered last year was dropped off Ballard by the Luftwaffe.

As with Studland we treat any reports of ordnance very seriously and if members of the public see anything odd then keep clear, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. In the meantime we will continue to find out what Mr Keys concerns are and work to ensure the area is safe for all concerned.

Sharks to Target Foreign Football Fans!

They don’t half write some rubbish in the newspapers. Apparently the South African Coastguard has hired extra shark spotters during the World Cup. I have no problems with this, sounds sensible given the increased numbers of tourists who may want to paddle.

However, the paper states;

“Patrols have been strengthened along South Africa's coastline amid fears Great Whites could target foreign tourists during the event.”

“A spokesman for Sharks Board, Harry Mbambo, said: "There is often a lot of shark activity around South Africa and we were concerned for the safety of foreign football fan who come here for the World Cup.””

Um hang on..... I know Great White Sharks are intelligent fish and top predators, but I doubt very much they have had a big get together one evening and decided to ‘target foreign tourists during the event’ them....that sounds awfully organized. The fish I have in my fishtank couldn’t even organise themselves to swim in a straight line.

And seriously how will these rotten sharks know if it’s a football fan? Check their pockets for ticket stubs or see if they are wearing the Portuguese Football team away strip. Even I don’t know what the Portuguese away strip looks like, so I doubt the sharks do either...unless they have the internet and Google it. Which would be just be plain silly because sharks don’t have fingers so couldn’t press the keys. Even if they did they’d need a laptop and I doubt very much they get wireless broadband underwater.

It’s not like these sharks are going to try and eat/collect football fans like some Panini Soccer Sticker Album. So it all sounds a bit silly.

To be fair, Argentinean Footballer Maradona would make one big lunch!

Hand of God? ......hand in the biscuit barrel more like.

Friday, 19 March 2010


Sadly the helicopter was cancelled last night due to the weather!

Whilst CRO's can take a bit of rain the conditions for the aircraft were not safe for training.
So we stayed in last night and went through the theory side of helicopter training however this morning I suddenly remembered that I should of used some additional equipment to demonstrate my lessons!
Thank goodness Lego helicopters can fly in all weathers!


Wednesday, 17 March 2010


Training last night with the helicopter was cancelled until Thursday due to a mistake with the dates. So instead it was first aid and collars for neck injurys.

Rid acted as as casulty and was strapped into the stretcher and was unable to move. Luckily for him he saw me coming with the dry board marker pen and was able to avoid having a moustache drawn on him. I did explain that it would have been a proper fancy moustache like the RAF pilots used to have but he wasn't having it.

So we took him outside and left him in the middle of the car park instead.

Poor lad, still he'll get his own back no doubt! The moral of the story .... Never ever volunteer to be the casulty!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Tonight on BiscuitWatch. Have you seen this man? He's wanted in connection with the disappearance of a least four chocolate biscuits in Dorset.

The photos are slightly blurred due to the speed with which he grabbed the biscuits. If you see him please do not approach the chap, especially if you have Garibaldis on you!

As Nick Ross of Crimewatch would say "Please don't have nightmares....."

Chinese lanterns 'pose coastguard risk'

An informative and balanced report from the BBC:-

Monday, 15 March 2010

Linking up

The work on the mast is finished with the link now connected. If you look between the two flood lights on the above picture the mast is on top of the hill which is linked to our mast.
Our mast
So what is the point of this work?
Well certain areas of Poole Harbour and the Purbecks have been "radio black spots" areas where VHF coverage is very poor. With the VHF ariel on the hill this will eliminate those spots and give excellent coverage and should mean VHF maritime users should be safer.
As the equipment goes live we shall explain the system in future Blogs.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Lots of chocolate bars up the station..... hidden in the cupboard. Great to stuff in your pockets if you're out all night searching for a missing person, or standing on a cliff in the lashing rain. Still if Ian works out these have a BISCUIT base then they won't last long.

Thanks to Sandie and John for supplying them.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Working with Helicopters

Next Tuesday and weather and incidents permitting its ‘Helicopter Training’, with Rescue Helicopter 106!

We had a seesion last May which allowed the team to practice setting up for landing. The helicopter lands into the wind and needs a large clear area without any loose debris. Vehicles are parking to the rear of the helicopter so that at night the headlights illuminate the area without dazzling the pilot (See photo above with vehicles 45 degrees to the landing area). No radio comms are allowed in the landing phase and no waving your arms like an idiot at the pilot. That’s it really....

Training last May.

We'll see if they have enough fuel and time to allow us to undertake some winching, fingers crossed. Sounds like a jolly but not really given that last year our Cliffman Austen had to be winched off Ballard with a dog. I'm not sure who was more worried the dog or Austen.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Microwave Dish

“Were getting a microwave dish!” said the boss.

Austen and Gareth’s eyes lit up as this now meant they could finally make scrambled egg to go with the bacon sarnies on Sunday mornings.

Within seconds their hopes were dashed when Ian explained it was actually a microwave dish or antenna to be mounted on the external aerial to provide better radio communications with the Ops room.

With the prospect of no scrambled egg, Austen and Gareth are now sulking.

Above: Microwave Dish (Antenna) - ours is square?

We’ll update you when we know what it does properly.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


I was called out to the station last night by a neighbour concerned at a group of youths messing around at the station. It appeared that about a dozen older teenagers were messing about in car and riding skateboards along the station ramps. Yours truly popped over to check out the situation and offer a few words of advice. It appears that much like moths, the station floodlights attract skateboarders also.

To be fair they were polite, apologised and moved on.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Watch your head

Yesterday's patrol were tasked to Durlston after a member of the public reported concerns for the cliffs in Durlston.
As in most years the cliffs have taken a battering this winter which has resulted in some large cliff falls which has left some large over hangs.
A report has been made to Portland MRCC who will be in contact with the council to review access to the area.

Our advice at the moment is to stay clear of the area for a bit, there is no doubt going to be some more cliff falls as the cliff dries out and gravity takes over as in the picture above.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Its Sunday

Morning to all our readers

Sorry to readers this morning who tried to log on and were redirected to a donation site, it would appear "Austen's Hamster" corrupted the site so we have sent him off to a new home (the hamster not Austen........but having said that anyone seen Austen this weekend?)

As deputy blog said, a very big welcome to Dee who is now active on the team after a new long process to join the Coastguard. Hopefully we can now look at recruiting the next person to bring the team up to full strength, please do get in touch if you are interested in joining the team.

Can I just point out that in the photo from yesterday I was proving the Station Officer does do the sweeping in the station!

I understand its a beach clean day today so the patrol will go and have a look and see what has been collected.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Coastguard Rescue Officer Lima

Today is the first patrol for our newest
Coastguard Rescue Officer
– Dee Bowden – Call sign ‘Lima’.

Above: Dee hiding in the truck

This afternoon she’s been put under the wing of our most experienced CRO – John Bentham who will show her the ropes and is under orders to get her brand new coastguard boots muddy. Probably a spot of driving the truck too!

Dee has worked as a Swanage Beach Warden over the last year so brings a new set of skills to the team; we’ve decided she’s very brave joining a team full of blokes. Still, from what I’ve seen she can more than handle herself.

She’s been training with the team over the last few months just learning the equipment and passing through all the paperwork bits and pieces and today she goes ‘live’ so to speak. Well done Dee, the team are all looking forward to working with you over the coming years.

A nice photo and more about Dee soon....

16:32...The truck is back safe with four wheels, but her boots are still pristine! "Well, I'm not getting out of a warm truck to get my boots dirty." said Dee like a proper Coastguard.

Further Industrial Action

Sadly on Monday and Tuesday certain staff of the MCA will take part in Industrial Action over their continued pay claim.

Coastguard Rescue Officers (us!) will not be taking part in this action.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Brian's New photo?

Last week Brian was concerned that his Coastguard musghot made him look silly.

Luckily I found this photo instead.....

...which relatively speaking makes his mugshot look quite sensible. (Note Rid and John in the background trying not to laugh!)

Brian is like an Invisible Snow Leopard one has a decent photo of him.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Nothing to report Sir!

All is "Q" at the can say the "Q" word as it tends to come back and bite you.

Training this week was carried out in the station as several members of the team had to work that night, but it was nice to be joined by Coastguards from Lymington and Hill Head who were in Swanage on a 4x4 driving course.
Whilst Lymington isn't mega miles away its still good to share ideas and practises and in fact they showed us a technique they learnt using some rope equipment on a steep slope.

Cup of coffee and a few biscuits later, we put the world of Coastguard right and everyone was happy.

On a team front, I had a nice day out in the Thames Valley area yesterday, Eric is still winning the "grow your own beard competition" Brian has gone into hiding so we cant take a new photo of him, Gareth has managed to "pop" a rib or two, he says he was coughing so hard he hurt his ribs.......(investigations still going on) .

On the equipment front we had a metal box arrive this week, more on this when we have worked out what it is for!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Brian's Not Happy

Complaint from Brian ......"I don't like my photograph on the main website...can you change it?"

Whats wrong Brian?....."Well my helmet isn't on straight for a start, I look a right ******!"

OK Brian, leave it with me and deputy blog!

Perhaps readers would like to have a look?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Watching the Sunrise

Above: New South Wales Ambulance Helicopter.

A chap falls asleep on cliff face waiting for the sun to rise; feel free to make your own comment.

Austen's Hamster

The team have bought Austen a hamster. No reason....we just thought we'd get him a pet.

The hamster is in the bottom right hand corner of this blog.

Feel free to feed and water him........hopefully he'll last the week.