Friday, 29 April 2011

A Royal Occassion

A very special day for the nation


Brian commeted on how busy we had been over the last few weeks, and he was right! Last year was our busisiest year ever with 168 incidents, compare that to a normal year of 115 incidents.

By the end of April last year (2010) we had 19 call outs, which was a lot!

One year on and this year we already stand at 28 incidents.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Royal Wedding Preperations

Ian has decided that the flag is going up tomorrow. Jolly good show I say, given he committed high treason by not putting it up on The Queen's Birthday last week.

The flag pole was kindly donated in commemoration of ex Station Officer Ian Surface; tomorrow will be the first time it has been be used for a State Occassion.

Stand Down

The IRT (Initial Response Team) were called at 21:37 last night to search for a lady who had gone missing on a walk on Ballard Down. Given she was unfamiliar with the area, it was dark and the close proximity of cliffs the BURT (Back Up Response Team) was requested.

The decision to put out the full team was made following a conversation with the Watch Manager at Portland MRCC (who knows the local terrain well) and on this occasion Coastguard Oscar. In a search at night we prefer to task the team to reduce the risk to both us and the casualty.

The lady was soon found by the first informant and the team stood down on arrival at the Coastguard Rescue Station. Despite the stand down it showed that we could have put out an eight person search team within 10 minutes; I reckon that’s pretty good.

After some good natured abuse directed at Coastguard Oscar for calling everyone out only to be stood down, everyone returned home. Interestingly Eric turned up in shorts, no wonder he's so brown.... he even sunbathes at night!

A tribute to Jesse

Last night with the wonderful help of the Swanage Lifeboat crew, we were able to escort the parents of Jesse Jones to the location where sadly he was found.

As the location is dangerous and difficult to get to on foot it was the best way for a visit and lay some flowers in Jesse's memory.

It was a beautiful evening as the lifeboat launched and motored across the bay, on route we were discussing the search and how the Coastguard, RNLI and Police all work together.

Giving the family a few minutes close under Ballard the lifeboat returned us to the slipway before going out on crew training - thanks again to Dave Turnbull for arranging this around your training.

The family then returned to the Coastguard Station to be shown around. Readers of the Gazette will know how grateful Mr and Mrs Jones are in the efforts that went in the search.

In memory of Jesse John Jones 27/12/86 - 25/2/2011

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Partnership working

When things go wrong and people dial 999 asking for help, little is often said about the work behind the scenes to get the right equipment to the right place.

Yesterday morning, South Western Ambulance requested urgent assistance when a baby required urgent medical treatment in town. Portland MRCC contacted ARCC kinloss and discussed the use of Rescue 106, meanwhile the IRT was paged to prepare a suitable landing site for the helicopter close to the incident.

Thankfully when the IRT arrived at the station, the medical situation had improved and the helicopter was no longer required.

The Coastguard regularly visit suitable locations around the town just in case we need to land the helicopter in emergency situations - not all our incidents are on the cliffs or out to sea.

Another step forward

Over six months since his last visit to the Station, John returned to the station and caught up with the team.

On strict instructions to sit still, not touch anything and drink tea it was a great moment to have him back on board.

Name John Bentham

Age 21+

Position in team Deputy Deputy Station Officer

Qualifications - Currently off line having been in hospital for over six months

Nickname JB

Role in team - When back in action, chief sweeper, gardener, making stuff, action hero (only has one speed - mega fast) tyre changer and currently holds the team record for the number of visits to the Gurkha restaurant self service section.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Top Trumps

In a new series and on the structure of that excellent card game.....

Name Austen Rockett

Age +21

Position in team Deputy Station Officer or No. 2

Qualifications Ropes - Officer in Charge, technician, Operator, first aid

Nickname Oz (plus others but this is a family blog)

Biscuit Eating Potential : Suprising Low
Role in team Lead team in absence of Station Officer, maintenance of the station, look after the coastguard truck, wind up the station officer by making a mess, events during the Carnival.

Its not too late ...............

Its not too late to add your comments to the Coastguard Modernisation Consultation.

May 5th is the final day for public comment, make sure you shape the future.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Respect and common sense

I think you can all see the team had a busy day yesterday but if you look at 5 of the incidents they were down to respect to people's property, respect to other maritime users and a little common sense.

1) The 3 sailing boats boats pushed off the beach. Someone owns them, someone uses them and when they went down to use and found them missing it ruins their day. From a Coastguard point of view, it wastes time - could spark a major search and cost thousands.

2) Water skiers in among the other boat. The bay is quite large and should accommodate most maritime users ( there has been discussions about zoning the bay for different users but would that spoil the natural look?) - Enjoy your sport we say but consider other users.

3) Jet skis at Studland - same as number 2 really - enjoy yourself but ensure you give yourself space.

4) Dolphin harassment - Deputy blog has pointed out the law, watch from a distance, remember the noise from engines etc can also distress the animals - let everyone enjoy them.

5) Finally - Jet ski again, - kill cords on any boats are important, make sure you wear one.


Yes seven incidents for Austen and Rid yesterday. Starting just after 08.30 they finally returned to station just before 18.00.

A long day for a team of volunteers over the easter holidays.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Dolphins Swanage Bay

The Swanage Coastguard Team have been out 7 times today. Sadly one incident involved a dozen boats harassing a pod of dolphins in Swanage Bay.

The wardens at Durlston are aware and have posted this link on their website reminding boat users of their responsibilities.

We'll put together a plan tonight to try and ensure we don't have a repeat of this particular incident tomorrow.

Renegade Speed Boat

Austen and Rid have just this minute been called to a “Renegade Speed Boat” in Swanage Bay

renegade [ˈrɛnɪˌgeɪd]


1. a person who deserts his cause or faith for another; apostate; traitor
2. any outlaw or rebel
[from Spanish renegado, from Medieval Latin renegāre to renounce, from Latin RE- + negāre to deny]

I now have visions of Clint Eastwood in full cowboy gear and cigar, water-skiing around Swanage Bay in a haphazard and careless fashion.

The Incident Pit

The Incident Pit

“An incident pit is conceptual pit with sides that become steeper over time and with each new incident until a point of no return is reached. As time moves forward, seemingly innocuous incidents push a situation further toward a bad situation and escape from the incident pit becomes more difficult. An incident pit may or may not have a point of no return.

It is a slang term used by divers, as well as engineers, medical personnel, and technology management personnel, to describe these situations and more importantly to avoid becoming ensnared.”

Ok so that’s a definition, but in diving terms allow me give an example.-

Two trained divers decide to dive a wreck, for arguments sake we’ll call it HMS Swanage. They decide they will only dive to the top of the wreck. They do their buddy and kit checks and jump in. The first diver remembers he’s left his spare diving mask on the boat, but decides “...well it’s a shallow dive and we’re in the water so let’s just get cracking.” The chap has just entered the Incident Pit and what’s more he’s unknowlingly dragged his mate in with him.

Twenty minutes into a dive and they are distracted by a large dog fish which they follow around for ten minutes; they’re so interested that they start to forget to regularly check their air gauges. Slipping deeper into the Incident Pit – but they could easily stop what they are doing. They come across a large hole in the wreck and one decides to swim deeper and go inside, the other stays outside . Well inside the Incident Pit now. In the scrabble to get in the hole the second diver accidently kicks the first diver’s mask off.

So we now have one diver in the wreck and one swimming alongside the wreck superstructure with no mask. Some good choices at this point and they might still be able to climb out of the Incident Pit

Most divers are trained for this and naturally the first diver reaches for his spare mask to remember it is on the boat.

A bit flustered he loses some buoyancy and sinks slightly deeper. He has problems reading his gauges and keeps sinking. More flustered he tries to fill his jacket with air and over inflates it. Critical Point Suddenly he is ascending quickly, and more quickly as the gas expands and he accelerates towards the surface, he hasn’t got time to check his ascent and misses his decompression stop. He comes to the surface with the bends. He’s out of the Incident Pit? No chance.

Meanwhile his mate is in the wreck kicking up silt, he turns around and finds the first diver has disappeared so goes deeper into the wreck to find him. It’s darker and there’s more silt. Before long he has no visibility, and when he checks his air he sees he is running out. Point of no return probably?

The Cox of the dive boat on the surface has a problem. He’s now got one diver on the surface with the bends (decompression sickness) and one diver missing. The emergency call goes out on Channel 16 VHF to Portland Coastguard who being the local know where they are.


From the above you can see that even the most innocuous choices/ decisions / actions /events have a knock on affect which incrementally increase the risk until there is a real threat to life. Often when you get to that point there are some big decisions to be made; or is it simply too late?

Should the diver have gone back for his mask ? Not necessarily.

Should they have chased the dogfish? Maybe

Should they have stuck to the dive plan and not go in the wreck? Definitely

Should the first diver took stock of the situation, remained calm etc etc..

So many questions, choices.....The bottom line is recognizing very early on when you have fallen into the Incident Pit, the earlier you spot the easier to get out.

I suppose you’re wondering about them divers. Happy ending or sad? It’s Easter and this is not BBC 1's naff Casualty programme so let’s have a happy outcome...... In this scenario the first diver is airlifted by Coastguard Helicopter to the decompression chamber and makes a full recovery.

The second diver made a good decision before going to the wreck. Critical Intervention. He clipped his reel to the outside of the wreck so he just follows the string back to the opening and then ascends normally to the surface.

Take the lead

This week the Coastguard issued a warning to dog owners about dogs falling off cliffs.

227 incidents in 2011 involving dogs which involved volunteer Coastguards having to assist the owner, sometimes with sad results. At Swanage last year we had 14 incidents involving animals - 13 of those were dogs.

Yesterday at Durdle Door, Dylan the dog had to be rescued by the Lulworth Team.

So dont let an incident spoil your weekend......take a lead in the dog world and set an example, have your dog under control near cliff edges.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Slip up

Finally got back down to look at the slip...........and someone has been digging !

Still the owner of the building can get back in.

I'm guessing we will be back at some point to see what happens.

Diver Missing - Lyme Regis

Our Local MRCC was busy yesterday with this incident:-

At just after 5.30pm this afternoon Portland Coastguard received a call from dive boat Blue Turtle, which was three nautical miles off Lyme Regis. They reported that a diver had failed to surface after a 20 metre dive. His buddy had made a rapid ascent and was recovered to the dive support vessel before being put on oxygen.

The cause of the incident is unclear at this time, however it is known that one diver made a rapid ascent and the other was last sighted below the surface of the sea.

The Coastguard Rescue helicopter from Portland was immediately sent to the scene to take the buddy of the missing diver back to the Poole hypobaric chamber for medical treatment. Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat, Lyme Regis and Weymouth RNLI Lifeboats and the Coastguard Rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent were sent to search for the missing diver whilst Poole Coastguard Rescue Team went to secure the helicopter landing site. The Lyme Regis Harbour Launch, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Gold Rover and vessels Scrumpy and Bardsey Island also joined the search. Once the Lee-on-Solent Rescue Helicopter had completed their search, they were relieved by the Portland Coastguard Rescue Helicopter to continue the tasking.

Despite an extensive and lengthy search by multiple rescue units the missing diver has not been located and the search was suspended due to the onset of darkness at approximately 9.00pm.

Andrew Jenkins, Coastguard Watch Manager said:

"Although prompt search and rescue action has resulted in one diver receiving timely medical treatment at the specialist Hyperbaric Unit in Poole and is likely to make a full recovery, despite an extensive surface search of the area, the missing diver has not been located.

At this stage, It would be wrong to speculate about the cause of this particular incident, but this is the second serious diving accident to have occurred off the Dorset coast already this season and I would like to take this opportunity to remind all divers to make sure they are well prepared, fully trained for the level of dive they are about to undertake and their equipment is properly maintained."

Easter weekend is normally the 'start' of the diving season for most and I'm sure Swanage Pier will be busy this weekend. Hopefully everyone will be sticking to their training and doing some shallow warm up dives to refamiliarise themselves with their kit before plunging to greater depths. I know we hear a lot about of diving incidents although to be fair more people are diving, more often and as such we have more incidents. Often the smallest things that go wrong can cause bigger problems. Divers refer to it as the 'Incident Pit'. I'll explain more tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Send a coastguard team to an incident, a few people turn up and watch.

Send a helicopter and its like a magnet, people come from miles around to watch.

To actually get the helicopter to fly, those rotors have to spin very fast and this (in its simplistic terms) creates down draft.
Down draft and members of the public don't mix, in fact it blows people over. In the picture above you can see the effects on the water and take it from us, grit, sand, water gets everywhere when it starts blowing !

Please, if directed by any emergency service to move away, its not because we are kill joys. It important, the safety of the public is paramount - the safety of the aircrew is paramount, the safety of my Coastguard team is top.

We don't mind people watching but stay safe.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Another visit to Corfe

(An early entry for photo of the year?)
The IRT has just returned from a helivac (evacuation by helicopter) at Corfe Castle where a male had injured himself when he slipped over in almost exactly the same spot as a similar incident last year. Right at the top.

So it was no struggle for CROs Hudson and Field to run to the very top of the castle again, since having been on duty last time they knew the routine well. No really, it was a breeze on a baking hot day and in full PPE. Eric even muttered something about recalling every step. The big difference from last time is that Resuce 106 was able to airlift the casualty away rather than the team having to bring him down by stretcher to a waiting ambulance.

Nick reckons that when you think about it, its a daft idea putting castles at the top of a hill. It's asking for trouble.

Oh, and apologies to the disgruntled tourist who, having paid his entry money, was upset to be moved away from the helicopter site so the operation could be carried out safely. He'd paid his money, and he had every right to be there! He said so himself. Er, yes. Fancy a shotblasted face from the downdraught of a helicopter do you? Thought not...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Something different

With not a lot happening in the World of Coastguard today, a rare visit out of town to Corfe Castle.

You will notice the mini controller walking up the platform - no other than the other Ian who visits the station from time to time and helps out with our first aid training.

Take a trip back in time.....have a ride on the Swanage railway.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Visitors welcome

The weather is set fair for the next few days and that will (hopefully) get people visiting the town and the various attractions.

All 3 incidents over the weekend showed the need to be prepared.

1st Incident - boat broken down and a little lost (thought they were off Peveril Point when in fact they were nearer St Albans.

2nd Incident - Kayaks in the tide race - Well prepared group caught out in the strong current.

3rd Incident - Boat left high and dry when the tide went out.

If you are heading out, ensure you know the tides and also where you are going.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Great Dorset Beach Clean 2011

Dorset Countryside's Coastal Ranger team has organised a Beach Clean this pm.

Join them this afternoon (Sunday) for the Big Dorset Beach Clean - Meet at Ocean Bay Cafe at 2.00pm in Swanage. Gloves and bags provided.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Dog Awareness Day

We attended the National Trusts "Dog awareness day" at Knoll Beach today. Our role was to talk to owners about the dangers of not having dogs on leads on cliffs.

After 14 dog incidents last year we wanted to talk to owners about the dangers and sadness when a family pet gets injured after falling off cliffs.

Note the new team member on the truck!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Taking care

Various incidents around the country have highlighted the dangers of the coast and sea. In the Liverpool Coastguard area various people have been cut off by the tide. On the east coast a young male was lucky to survive after falling from cliffs. What ever you are doing this weekend, stay safe and check the tides and be careful when near the cliffs. A small reminder at Studland tomorrow (Knoll Beach) there is a "Dog awareness" event highlighting the dangers of dogs and cliffs. Pop down between 12 and 3.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Senior Section

Just before training started last night, Eric and Tom had a private meeting to discuss "senior team matters"..........All sort of things are discussed.

Reminds us of some one else?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dog poo.

After a good cliff training session up at Peveril Point someone had to spoil it by stepping in dog poop. Now there is a lot of dog poop up there so we clear the area before training, I say we, it’s normally Brian that does this with a spade; often this accidentally gets flicked at someone. But Brian was away so we had to carry on without his ‘assistance’.

On the back of this we had a general discussion about the amount of dog poop in Swanage. Austen claimed it was due to there being an awful lot of dogs in Swanage, while Eric told us a story about some guy who picks up dog poop and throws it in gardens. The consensus view was that the majority did clean up after their pooches.

By way of constructive suggestions it was suggested that illuminous food colouring should be put in dog food so that poops glows at night.

Someone floated the idea of putting iron fillings in dog food so that their subsequent poops has a high metal content which could be easy hovered up with a poop-van with a magnet. Paul explained that this was a ‘rubbish’ idea as this had the fundamental flaw of all cats and dogs being attracted to the magnet and being zapped by the van as it toured the town. We suddenly had visions of cats being pulled through letterboxes by the poop-van’s ultra strong magnet.

After a quick normality check and shoe inspection it was back in the MRU to return to station.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

So Many Questions

Training night tonight, and that brings a whole host of questions:

  • Indoors or outdoors?

  • Practical or theory?

  • Who will and who won't?

  • Tea or coffee?

  • Jaffa cakes or Quality Street?

  • First past the post or AV?

Results tomorrow....

Monday, 11 April 2011

Well done Swanage

April or August?
I hope this isn't our summer right now? Anyway it was really good to see Swanage so busy, loads of people on the beach and in the town (hopefully spending a little to benefit the local shop owners?)

On the Coastguard front, I'm pleased to say we had no call outs.

So to all the visitors, thanks for coming to the town, hope you enjoyed it and why not spend a few days here later in the season?

Visit the hospitality association web site to see some great places to stay.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Providing cover

Last nights incident showed how the team have to work closely to provide IRT cover.

The IRT - Initial Response Team is two people on call from the team 24 hours a day. Out of a team of 13 providing two people is not an easy task for the management of the team.

Of course two people can not always carry out a full rescue and that's where the rest of the team become the BURT - the Back Up Response Team.

We have a monthly plan who will cover the IRT, but of course being volunteers this plan has to change to fit around family and the working lives of people.

Yesterday, Swanage Oscar saved the day when a swap around of the IRT allowed a birthday dinner to take place uninterrupted. Just as well really as the IRT got called out and the Station Officer would have ended up in serious trouble if for the second time he got got called away from the restaurant!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Good intentions.

A 999 call was made to Portland Coastguard this evening concerning a boat on fire at the chain ferry. CROs Kitching and Simmons were dispatched to provide cover.

It turned out that the first informant had mistaken a neon light on the back of the boat as a fire. Not a problem as it was a call with good intentions. The team were stood down about 2 minutes into their run.

Grand National

Ok ok it's not Coastguard related.

But Coastguard Oscar's big tip for the Grand National this afternoon is "Oscar Time".

On the nose, or each way this horse is a winner. ;-) ...perhaps!

Ian has agreed that if any one loses out on my betting tip that he'll refund the stake, which is very generous.

Here's a piccy of Austen doing the Tic Tac (betting language) I think he's offering odds of 7 to 1 on that Rid washes his car this week, either that or he's ordering a 12" pepperoni with double cheese.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Five and a Half years

Ever wondered what five and a half years of history looks like?

Well this is what is contained in this book.....the CG19 or station log.

Its an official document and full of the incidents and goings on in the station for the last 5.5 years.

We will see how long the next one takes to fill!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

John......he's back

The very special person at yesterdays incident was "our John"..... Readers will know that John has been very very poorly in fact he has been in hospital for over 4 months. In March he had some major operations in Southampton and Poole hospitals and this was a very worrying situation for his family and friends. Well last week, the hospitals finally had enough of him and decided he could at long last come home. Its going to a bit longer before John will be able to join in with the team but just to have him back at home is a huge relief to us all. Thank you to many of you for your letters and notes of support, these were passed on to family. So imagine the surprise of the IRT yesterday when they were on the beach along comes John to check them out !

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Hud is back

No sooner than he lands back in the UK, the Hudson is back in action and doing his stuff on the beach. Along with Nick and Austen who decided to tag along with the IRT they soon had the situation under control. A VERY special team member also got involved in the incident (purely a monitoring involvement), tune in tomorrow to find out who this was.

Working Together

The IRT assisted SW Ambulance this afternoon with a casualty at Ocean Bay. In fact when the 999 came in, the ambulance immediately asked for our assistance which shows the level of team co-operation we have developed with partner services. Good to see Eric back again too, looks like he's had a busy few weeks in Lanzarote, either that or he's not washed again. I'd say we're looking at Bright Cedar already, which for the first week of April is remarkable.

April Fool?

Visitors to Peveril Point may have seen a planning application to demolish the "Lookout station" at Peveril Point. Further down the application it states the Coastguard lookout to be demolished. I first thought Deputy Blog had been to work then realised it may be a typing error! The Coastguard lookout closed in the 1990's and was handed over to the National Coastwatch Institute, surely they weren't going to knock down their important lookout? An email to the Town Clerk confirmed the situation..... The application relates to the old war time emergency defence lighting station at Peveril. Sadly the condition of the building is very poor and its become very dangerous so the Town Council are applying to have it demolished. There was a little error when the application went to Purbeck District Council, they thought this old structure had belong to the Coastguard......something I can find no record of. Readers will know that I have been carrying out a project on the structures at Peveril Point and the loss of part of the Swanage History will be a sad result, however fans of the natural cliff face will get to see whats hidden behind the structure.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Spikes Award

Finally got around to get to the engraver last week and get the plates made for Eric and Gareth who were awarded Swanage Coastguard of the year 2010. The award - in memory of Mike (Spike) Williamson is awarded to the team member(s) who have contributed to the team the most during the year.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Keep it clean

Another form of kit night ? This is quite a rare piece of equipment for some ! The brush on the right indicates how much its used.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Cliff fall

This picture was kindly sent to us this week by the Swanage Lifeboat Crew. It shows a large cliff fall between Ballard Point and Old Harry which has appeared in the last week or so. Often on this blog we have warned of the dangers of cliff edges and to stay clear of them. There must be several hundred tonnes of chalk that has come down, if you look to the left and right of the fall, you can see the original line of the cliff bottom. Whilst this seems to have formed a new "beach" our advice is to stay clear ,the chalk is loose and its still moving.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Kit Night

The other night went very well with Austen, Gareth, Nick and Tom turning out to check the equipment. Rob our Sector Manager had requested the end of month paper work early so as with all management I was stuck in the office however with the CCTV kept a close eye on the biscuit munching. We get about 20 hours a month to keep the equipment, vehicle and station in order. You only need a couple of muddy jobs a month and those hours get eaten up (no link to biscuit eating). Whilst kit night is a team event, it actually serves two functions 1) to clean and check the equipment 2) to ensure the team are handling and thinking about the piece of equipment.