Sunday, 30 September 2012

Busman's Holiday

So I'm on holiday in Exmoor and I suggest to the missus that as it is sunny that we go to the Lynton Cliff Railway and pop down to Lynmouth.

'Oh no, not trains! ...but at least it's not Coastguard stuff' she says.

So imagine her surprise when we arrive to find that the railway's manager is a Coastguard and that their chosen charity this year is ... The Coastguard Association.

I genuinely didn't know, honest.

Big Head

It was our opportunity to order uniform on kit night, it’s a yearly thing. Nick wasn’t sure what to order so I suggested a hat – you know a coastguard cap thingy. We then had to measure his head.

Nick has a massive head; yes amazingly it’s bigger than mine.

His (head) is a whopping 60cm, which is as big as a spacehopper .....and 4% larger than mine.

Luckily they actually do hats in his size – Phew.

Saturday, 29 September 2012


Whilst Roger is busy letting the train take the strain, Chris one of our other newer recruits is driving round Europe this weekend, taking part in the Screwball Rally.

The rules are something like this.
1. Buy a car for less than £750
2. Drive it any route you like through Europe, meeting up with other Screwballers at a predetermined campsite each night
3. Have fun and be safe
4. Raise a few bob for charity.

Chris, who is a student paramedic, has two ambulance crew colleagues with him on the rally and between them they've invested in a gleaming X-reg Nissan Primera at a bargain £150 inside the spending limit.  She really is a beauty.  Never raced or rallied.  Yet. 

The convoy left Dover on Thursday and is expected to take in 1800 miles through France, Italy, Switzerland and Liechenstein (wherever that is ??).

The guys are raising money for Help for Heroes as can be seen by the car decals, and they'd be really chuffed if you wanted to contribute to the cause.  Its so here.

Hope you're having a great time Chris and see you soon.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Attack of the Gingerbread Men

On arrival at the Station for Kit Night we were met by another suspicious package. – Last time someone tried to blow us up by leaving some dodgy flares! 

But this time it was slightly more mysterious, and a lot safer.....

There was a note:-

Suspicious Hand Written Note 

And inside the package were 7 new recruits. A flock of Gingerbread men. Each was individually decorated, and wrapped.

Gingerbread Coastguard Team

Regular readers will all know about Malcolm the Gingerbread Man who joined the Swanage Coastguard team last year only to be dismissed after he was eaten by a dog. It’s a long story but much like BBC iPlayer, you can catch up here.

Dee was delighted to mind that she had her own gingerbread woman with eyelashes.

Miss Gingerbread Woman

There was a slightly chubby one also.

The Porker

We thought about deploying them in a search party to find the boathook that is still undertaking a 'float test' somewhere in Swanage Bay, but realised that it was Brian's job to find that!

Thank you to the mystery person who made the gingerbread chaps! I can confirm that they helped with kit night and were all then eaten.

....all apart from Gingerbread Chap 'Peg Leg Pete, who escaped.... no doubt he may show up on the blog over the next few weeks :-)

Thursday, 27 September 2012


A few of the Coasties are away at the moment - no doubt Lee and Chris will tell us what they've been up to in due course, but we have news that Roger is away mountaineering in Snowdonia and today, he reached the summit of Snowdon itself.

Roger's never afraid to try different ideas and techniques and so, even though its his holiday, he's been testing out some equipment designed to make scaling heights like Snowdon easier.  Apparently with careful use of this speciality kit, not only do you get to the top slightly quicker but the potential for pain in the hips and feet is reduced too.

I'm sure Roger will give us a full appraisal on his return, but in the meantime I have managed to find some further information on the enhanced climbing apparatus.  Take a look for yourself 

Opening day

We are having an open day, on Sunday 14th October. Between 11am and 3pm we are opening the station to the public, subject to the weather or operational requirements.

So come and see the work of one of your local Coastguard team at North Beach Car Park De Moulham Road Swanage.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Oscar becomes Bravo

With Austen away and Gareth now the Deputy Station Officer there has to be a slight change in the call signs used.

Gareth was Swanage Oscar.........he now becomes Swanage Bravo.

Gareth was a little upset about losing the Oscar call sign which is his trademark within the team, so I have assured him that Oscar will be protected for the time being.

However readers might remember that some time ago the Coastguard Service introduced a special call sign to show who was in charge of an guessed it OSCAR !

Normally if Swanage Alpha or Bravo is at an incident they are the Officers in Charge however someone else could take charge and to identify them they add the Oscar call sign to their own call sign, ie Swanage Echo Oscar (not always easy to say!)

So we will ensure that Gareth is in charge sometimes so he can say Swanage Bravo Oscar.

The big clean up

Following this weekend's incident, we then had to clean and dry all our equipment. Thankfully Brian didn't lose any of this kit (you may be aware he lost , some say threw the station boat hook into the sea).

So another couple of hours and this lot should be dry ready to pack away.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Boathooks ....

After the careless devastating loss of the boathook in the Swanage storm this weekend I decided to cheer myself up by buying my nephew his birthday present, he’s 3. 

After a bit of research I found a Playmobil fishing boat. Behold:-

Ariane- with fisherman chappie.

It was delivered today and I’ve resisted the temptation to play check all the bits are there.

Not a bad little boat really, ok ok…. so it’s not as good as San Gina 2 although the fisherman does look a bit like it's skipper (local fisherman and lifeboatman) Tom Greasty, what with his jeans , stubble, lumberjack shirt and knife? knife? He’s a fisherman not some cut-throat pirate.

Anyway I checked the back of the box. Wow, readers, a serious wow! look at play value all the kit he’s got onboard:-

Life ring (very good!)
Fish Boxes x2
Fenders x4
Bog Standard Seagull – i.e. Herring Gull 
3 Salmon? Actually they might be Bass or a load of Pollocks.
Fishing Rod, with line.

Oh no, seriously?

Oh, oh, I’m welling up, tears in my eyes, …he’s only got a ….. I can’t bring myself to say it …….a b,b,b,   boathook! Yes, the Playmobil Tom Greasty lookalike fisherman chappie has only got a boathook!! 

…..which is one more boathook than the Swanage Coastguard Team currently have!

I might register the boat on a CG66 just in case it sinks in the bath.

*Other plastic based toy things made by Germans are also available.

Missing in action

RIP Billy Boathook.

When I arrived at the incident yesterday, I suggested we go and collect a few items that got washed up on the beach. The team went back to the station to collect the trailer and I suggested they bring the boat hook. I was then given the sad news.....

Swanage Coastguard Team are saddened to report that yesterday they lost ‘Billy the Boathook’ to the waves. Yes our treasured wooden boathook was taken by a cruel sea. Brian said a large wave ripped it from his grasp as he bravely fought to save it, but eyewitness accounts say he just gave it a ‘float test’ (i.e. he threw it in the sea).

Either way it is gone; ...probably floating off the Isle of Wight – that or ‘rescued’ and taken home. We console ourselves that at least Billy boathook went doing what boathooks do best, being a boathook.

You would not believe the amount of forms that we Brian will need to fill in to get a new one. Plus providing the team with cakes obviously.

Billy is brown, made of wood and shaped like a boathook. If you do have Billy please drop him up the station.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Boats Everywhere

The aftermath (or some of it) of yesterday's weather.

Hows that coming out?

Following yesterday storm, not only did the local hire boat pontoon get stuck up Swan Brook but it was closely followed by this yacht!

Now if anyone can explain to us how a pontoon and yacht can be forced up a stream not more that 30 feet wide with quite a lot of rain water coming out we would be grateful.

But the biggest question is how is someone going to get them out!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Rough Weather

As per our post yesterday, the rough weather has hit Swanage today and the team have been out dealing with this speedboat blown from its mooring and washed up against the Parish Slipway.  With a strong petrol smell, presumably caused by a damaged tank, the team cordoned off the area to protect the public before trying to secure the vessel with support from our colleagues at St Albans Coastguard.

Meanwhile in the centre of town, boat trips are to be offered from the junction of Shore Road and Station Road, if the photo of this pontoon is to be believed.

20:29 Update:- By the end of play we think it is at least 12 boats / tenders that have sank.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Our Man in....

I wonder how he's getting on?

Weather Warning

Despite the nice start to the day, a weather warning has been issued for Sunday.

It's still a bit unclear what will happen but heavy rain and strong winds are predicted.

The Met office have issued a yellow warning

So if you still have a boat on a mooring, a beach hut or you are planning to go out tomorrow, probably best you do it today.

Friday, 21 September 2012

So what happened at training?

Well the 1st thing we did was drive the boss's car into the garage and turn the lights on again...........ok there was actually a reason.

There was a report of a fault after 5 minutes so the lights went on for a test. 5 minutes later all was well and we were staggering around suffering the effects of strobe lights.

The car is now available for disco's

We then gathered around the truck and had some refresher training on the checks that should be carried out on the vehicle. Oil levels, tyre pressures and paper work required to be carried. Then it was up to the obelisk to do some driver training which included what to do if you suddenly lose traction going up a hill.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Training Night

Its the team training night tonight -  a chance to refresh on many of our core skills or to learn new ones.
As a volunteer Coastguard Rescue Team we get tasked by Portland MRCC to a number of incidents including:

  • Coastal Searches - eg missing persons, overdue walkers, hikers seperated from their group etc.

  • Rope (cliff) Rescues - persons fallen over cliffs, injured or tired climbers and in many cases for dogs

  • Safety Advice - prevention of accidents and words of advice following incidents

  • Helecopter Rescues - supporting the helecopter crew, preparing a landing site, crowd control

  • First Aid - much of our work is with injured climbers, walkers, beach users

  • Lifeboat Support - we don't have a boat, but we monitor and support Swanage RNLI on shouts

  • SW Ambulance - we dont have an ambulance either but we support the service in remote and coastal locations

  • Communications - relaying communications between the MRCC Ops Room and a remote incident location

  • Ordnance and Flares - identifying washed up items, and keeping a safety cordon until safe disposal

  • Community Work - safety cover for Swanage Carnival water-based events, Purbeck Marathon, Fireworks evenings

We are one of a number of 'declared assets' available to HM Coastguard's Portland MRCC for them to call on as they deal with the variety of 999 calls that come in every day. 

A multi-agency incident earlier in 2012 involving HM Coastguard, SW Ambulance and Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance

If you have out of date pyrotechnics, these should be disposed of by appointment at the RNLI college in Poole

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Broadsword calling Danny Boy

News flash the scene in Where Eagles Dare,

Communications have just been established with Austen who has arrived safely.

New Swanage Inshore Lifeboat

We were lucky enough to be invited to the naming of the new inshore lifeboat on Saturday. Weather was great, along with the refreshments at the sailing club after.

The new D class D752 "Phyl & Jack" was soon back in the water during the afternoon.

Coastguard 106

BBC news report on the campaign to save the Coastguard Helicopter.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Goodbye and Good Luck

After more farewell drinks, BBQs, breakfasts and buffets than I can remember, our DSO Austen Rockett finally left Heathrow today, bound for a new challenge overseas.  There was a slight hiccup when he says he was strip searched at the airport, but I guess thats what you get for looking dodgy!

We all wish Oz the very best of luck in his new job, and despite all the ribbing and jokes, we do look forward to seeing him at Christmas.  The station will be a quieter and poorer place without his knowledge and enthusiasm.

Safe travels Oz.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sunny Swanage

Beautiful day in Swanage today; I was out with the Swanage Sea Rowing Club for a row down towards Old Harry first thing. There was a group of sea swimmers doing their stuff in the bay, and the dive boats looked full as well.
The new ILB was named this morning, the SO was spotted talking to the beachwardens at the cafe, Coastguard Eric could be heard commentating on something on Sandpit Field and Brian and Tom are out on patrol later.

With the marathon tomorrow, it's all happening in Swanage this weekend.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Austen's busy weekend

This weekend is the last weekend before Austen goes on his long holiday. It's going to be a busy weekend starting tomorrow with the naming of the new Swanage ILB, and then the Purbeck Marathon on Sunday.

We had thought of entering a team for the Marathon, however sadly there just isn't enough time to get a breakfast in and then get to the starting line for 9am so something had to give and it was the run.

So if you are about come and say bye to Austen who will be eating in several locations over the weekend.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Roger 'The Sausage' Patrick - BBQ Chef

Oh and a big thanks to BBQ Chef - Roger and his Massive Magners Meat Fridge.

Three hours of cooking and not one food poisoning casualty!

....amazingly Roger was able to cook quicker than Austen can eat - 
As Paul Daniels would say (in an annoying high pitch voice) 'That's Magic'.

Burger-ing Up the BBQ

Getting hold of a little sausage

Nice Skirt Apron Rodge!

After this Roger only went onto another BBQ - apparently it was a couple of the local ambulance personnel's joint 50th Birthday  ;-).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Team BBQ

So, on saturday afternoon amongst the pagers going off the team were having a get together to celebrate mourn Austen leaving us. We set up and Gareth decided he wanted a bit of shade and put up the Gareth size umbrella!

As the afternoon wore on the pagers managed to stayed quiet for a little while for us to hand out a Jubilee medal to Steve who was away when they were handed out, a present to Rid who defected moved over to Poole and joined the team across the water and also a few little bits that we had brought Austen.

In a small tradition in Swanage Austen handed over a pair of DSO (deputy station officer) epaulettes to Gareth who is taking over while Aus is away.

The big tidy up starts and while doing this we find Ian our station officer doing his bit for the environment and recycling..........

Well that's what he said he was doing personally I think he was looking for any left overs!!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Climber stuck near Western Mile Marker

Preparations for this afternoons team BBQ were interrupted when the team were paged to a climber reported stuck near to the Western Mile Markers. Access was through Belle Vue Farm southwards to the cliff top. The vehicle team stayed on top (red marker) to provide words of encouragement to the forward team who deployed down to the scene on foot.

Rescue helicopter 106 was scrambled from Portland  and lifted the climber with a shoulder injury to Dorchester hospital.

The team remained on scene to assist the climber's partner.

With the BBQ lit the IRT were then tasked to a report of persons stuck on Ballard, despite a good search no one was located.

Perhaps this week I'll get Coastguard Oscar to do some blogs on access to the Cliff areas?!

Friday, 7 September 2012

All aboard folks

A busy weekend for the town......

1st of all there is the Autumn Grand steam gala and vintage car rally.

Then there is the Folk Festival.

So come and enjoy the good weather and join in the fun.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Monday, 3 September 2012

Team member presented with Jubilee Medals

Speedboat Sinks

The BBC Website describes how our colleagues at Portland MRCC co-ordinated the rescue of a group whose speedboat sank in Bournemouth at the weekend.
Would you take a young child to sea in a small boat with no lifejackets, radio or safety gear?...Somebody did!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Small lunch for Eric

Eric at last weeks Harman's Cross village fete. 3 cups of tea, 3 sandwiches and a packet of crisps. Even the lady behind him had to look twice.