Thursday, 28 February 2013


Young girl “What are these? “
Coastguard Rescue Officer “They are carabiners”
Young girl “But what are they?”

Well they’re not people from the Caribbean. They’re a piece of climbing equipment used by Coastguard teams to attach themselves and other equipment, (such as bags, stretchers etc.) quickly and safely to ropes. More here:-

The ‘gate’ in the centre allows the rope to be passed into the centre of the device and then forcibly snaps shut, a locking nut then screws over the gate to stop it opening. A red bar provides quick visual indication if these are not locked. Often during training our sector manager Allan will deliberately leave one on red to make sure the team check and recheck the equipment is safe. (Don’t worry he doesn’t do it when someone’s attached though!) It’s good practice and everyone’s checking for any ‘on red’

Above: 'Open'
Below 'Closed'

Whilst only small they have a huge amount of strength, ours have a loading rating of 28kn top to bottom and 7 kn side to side.

We have 35 in total and each is inspected monthly on kit night to ensure they are clean and not missing, or broken. Each has it’s own unique number and each is signed for as they are passed fit for use. During a rescue or training situation each is checked as we take them out of the bag and again when they go away; broken or suspect ones are labelled and put in a quarantine bag for proper inspection later. Broken kit is sent away for proper evaluation and immediately replaced not repaired. The yellow tape marks Swanage kit, St Albans our flank team use blue.

It might sound like a bit over the top, all the checking and re-checking but it soon becomes second nature and is crucial for ensuring the safety of the team and the casualty.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

"It's why it's taped off sir"

The words of our new recruit Kyle this afternoon when out with the Station Officer looking at the Landslip.

Just as we got down on the beach by Sheps Hollow, there further up the beach was a gent walking towards the taped off area, surely not we thought as we quickened the pace.

Too late, over the tape, ignoring the warning signs he tries to walk up over the mud slip and.........sinks.

A member of public in front of us rushes to help the male and just as we arrived we help a rather muddy gent back onto the beach.

"It's why it's taped off sir", says Kyle looking at the man covered just short of his knees in mud as the Station Officer is on the phone to the Operations Room in Weymouth.

Looking rather shocked at his near miss the 80 year old male from Middlesex realises he stepped over Police tape and missed the highly visible warning signs.

Thankfully yet again the out come was just one pair of very muddy boots and embarrassment that he had become another Government Statistic.

Not quite what Kyle was expecting on his 1st trip out either, this is the second person in just over a week to get stuck at the same location.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Training - The Dirty30

Alongside our station is a telephone wire, it doesn’t look very important but it serves a rather special purpose, to connect us, and the remote VHF aerial on Nine  Barrow Down to the Ops Room.  That’ll be the super high power aerial that covers most of the south coast. The relevance of this information may become apparent….

Last night was a Kit Night or ‘not another kit night’ as the lads call it – every month without fail; yes its mundane but the kit needs checking and signing for – every single bit of kit down to the last karabiner and there’s 36 of them.

So last night we decided to liven it up with a new station feature ‘The Dirty Thirty’ – The aim of Dirty30 is to provide a 30 minute training session where everyone gets their hands dirty. But this training session has a difference.

The difference being the team members are in direct in competition with each other – the loser gets to run the next Dirty30 training session the following month. No one wants to be the loser. It’s a way of training, having fun, motivating and giving others the chance to lead training. – What’s not to like !

Last nights task was throwing rescue lines. The lads warmed up on the lights

We adjourned to the car park to  throw the Perry Rescue Line and two other throw lines that we have. Six grow men standing in the cold throwing bags at a traffic cone… in the dark. The risk assessment was that there were no power lines , no cars, the neighbours cat was indoors and the absolute worst someone could do would be to let go of the bag too early and hit a team mate – not a danger – just funny. There was a telephone cable to the left of us but there was no way on earth that anyone would be so incompetent to hit that, I mean you couldn’t hit the telephone line even if you tried. (I hope I’m not telegraphing what’s about to happen).

Now we are not a supportive ‘everyone wins - prizes for all’ outfit, basically if you come last you’re going to get mercilessly mocked until another opportunity comes along to mock someone else in team.

Let the tossing commence – and it did. Brian was in early with a good throw, followed by Lee and Roger Roger, all landing close to target Nick then spoilt things by throwing his into the tarmac and conceded that he might be the loser .  Ian and Gareth had competent, quality throws….. but you’d expect that of the management :-). I don’t want to bang on about it but, they were rather good throws.

Round two of training the throwing completion saw a stinker of a throw from Ian , while Nick managed to redeem himself with quality effort; at this point the smart money was on Ian coming bottom of the leader board and leading the raining.  Roger Roger and Lee threw well, and Brain, well Brian was sublime.

Most people in Nick’s position would have settled for a place ‘mid table’ but Nick wanted to prove he was a better tosser than Brian. To be fair this is a challenge as everyone on station always remarks at Brian being the top tosser.

Nick took position, settled himself, took aim – I’m not sure what at – and ‘launched’ the Perry Rescue Line..….

It would be fair to say there was an anxious moment as we saw the trajectory of the line –sharp intake of breath - towards the neighbor’s shed..... ! 

It looked bad….but luckily for Nick there was an important telecommunications line to save his blushes. Nick provided a quick bow to acknowledge his effort - and we all clapped in an enthusiastically sarcastic supportive manner.

Nick will be running the Dirty30 next month. – he’s says its going to be a cross country race!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Public meeting

The Environment Agency is launching a public consultation on future plans
for managing tidal flood risk and coastal erosion around Bournemouth, Poole
Harbour, Wareham and Swanage. An exhibition on the Strategy will be held at
All Saints Church Hall, Swanage on 1 March 2013 between 13:00 and 18:00.

For further information, please visit the Environment Agency’s website:

Monday, 18 February 2013

More Mud Incidents

Sadly our incident on Friday was not the only one, with incidents at Lulworth and Chapmans Pool over the weekend.

Dorset mud incidents

With the weather slightly drier, it appears people have been going out but sadly ignoring the safety signs or just not paying attention to their surroundings.

We make no apology for repeating the safety advice as incidents are still occurring, we want visitors and the community to enjoy our beach but stay safe.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Mud Rescue Coastguard and Fire Service Joint Rescue

The team were this afternoon tasked to the landslip to the north of Swanage Bay to rescue a man who was stuck waist deep in the mud. Rather than climb over the groynes he took it upon himself to walk across the mud.

Dorset Fire and Rescue (Swanage Station) provided some of expertise and muscle whilst the man was pulled to safety. We are advised that 7, yes 7 fire appliances were initially tasked to this call out. The Police also attended.

... work out for yourself the cost of this rescue! 7 fire trucks, a Coastguard Team and 3 police officers all for the rescue of a person.  Whilst it seems a lot of people, each are required to provide a level of safety to each other and the public looking on.

Whilst in might look safe, the mud is actually really deep in places 4-6ft+ and there is a VERY real risk to life, especially to children. Often the slips dry and form a crust this allows people to walk a certain way across the mud until they fall through the crust.

Please, please stay away from the slips.

Check out Dorset Fire and Rescue on Facebook.

The team were later called to an incident on the pier which was successfully resolved, thanks to Swanage Lifeboat for being ready to assist.

Location:Swanage Bay

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It's not just Swanage

The BBC website is carrying a report of cliff falls in Lyme Regis.

The local coastguard team has temporarily closed the most affected area as a safety measure.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sunday Slipwatch Update

Photos taken Saturday 09 February 2013 at very low (Spring tide) 

Please click to zoom

Friday, 8 February 2013

Sick male airlifted

A real team effort yesterday, with Coastguards, Rescue 104, South Western Ambulance and Dorset Police.

A report came into the emergency services just after lunch time of a male who was ill between the Country Park and Dancing Ledge.

South Western Ambulance were joined by the Swanage Initial Response Team and St Albans Kilo who works in the area. Thankfully the poorly male was spotted west of the Western Mile marker and the team had a difficult walk to his location.

The male who had been walking the coast path started to be ill the day before so set up a small tent to sleep off his illness. Cold conditions over night had not helped the male and in the morning his condition worsened and a member of the public reported him to Rangers at the Country Park.

Due to his location and ground conditions, Rescue 104 from Lee on Solent was tasked to help remove the male quickly to hospital to be treated.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Country Gents

Ooh Arr 

The elder statesmen at the debrief on Saturday. Sort of reminded me of Jack Hargreaves "out of town".

Monday, 4 February 2013

Eric what's that in the sand

Whilst checking the Landslip on Saturday, Eric and I had a heart stopping moment when we suddenly spotted this in the mud.

Over the years we have dealt with a few incidents of ordnance found on the beach and with the history of the north end of the beach there could always be the chance of an item turning up.

Thankfully on a slightly closer inspection it turned out to be an old pipe but we urge anyone who finds any suspicious to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Fresh Falls

Yesterdays patrol went and checked the latest on the beach.  We haven't been aware (until this week) how many people and organisations have been using the site to monitor events so to ensure the  safety of others we will be continuing to post photos so others don't put themselves at risk. 

We normally try and go down at low water, and stay away from the piles of mud and concrete that are falling.  Its all very active still with a lot of water pouring our the bottom. 

A snap shot of an active slip in progress.  Questions being asked what can be done and this is where it gets tricky.  This is private property, the councils have an obligation for sea defences, these are still in place and its not the sea that has caused the landslip.  This is a failure in the cliff caused by land drainage issues over many years.

Another question is when will this be cleared up, well at the moment there are no plans, we understand this is a natural process and removing this "toe" would just bring more of the cliff down above. 
The mud slick is getting larger and there is evidence that in the last couple of days someone has tried walking on this and got stuck.
Someone phoned Portland Coastguard yesterday and stated that at certain states of the tide its very hazardous down there and their partner had nearly got stuck, whether this was related to the footprints we don't know.
Please do take the advice we have been giving from December, keep clear of the slump,

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Busy Day for team

A busy day today for the team started just before 10am when Portland MRCC tasked the full Coastguard Rescue Team.

A walker on the coastal path walking towards Dancing Ledge slipped and broke his ankle. The team arrived to find very difficult ground conditions and the casualty in good humour despite his injury. Using the stretcher the casualty was carried out to a waiting ambulance. We would also like to thank Countryside Ranger Katie Black for her assistance with some vehicle movement in muddy conditions.

The coastal path is extremely slippery at the moment and we ask all users to be careful.

Having got back to station the team were tasked to a sailing dinghy off Studland which had been reported in difficulty. When the team arrived the above sailing dinghy was found ashore with a hole where the rudder should be. The two on board were safe and had managed to get caught close to the training bank, which had caused the rudder to be ripped off. The National Trust assisted the recovery of the boat up the beach.

During the incident it was odd that several people came up and said they thought the boat was in trouble but they haven't called in.

If you think someone is in trouble always report it, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard, we would much rather be cancelled that learn of a tragedy.

We returned to take a trip to the Landslip but more on this tomorrow.

Belly Flop

On this blog we have often reported the dangers of Tombstoning.

Tombstoning is the term used for the recreational jumping off cliffs, piers, jetties, quays and bridges.

We don’t want to spoil anyone's fun, but no one knows the dangers more than us.

We have to rescue people when they jump from cliffs and piers.

In the past 8 years there have been 20 deaths and 70 serious injuries.

Jumping from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous.

We warn people every year about the dangers of tombstoning so it was sad to see a television programme where celebrities dive into a swimming pool suggest Tombstoning was fun.

Diving in a pool is safe, but what about tombstoning? Know the dangers

Friday, 1 February 2013

MCA Press release on bird covered in waxy substance.

Reports of seabirds covered in a waxy substance have been coming in from Lyme Bay to West Sussex.

The MCA have issued the following press release