Monday, 30 November 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Presentation to National Coast Watch

A couple of weeks ago we gave a presentation to the volunteers of The National Coastwatch Institution of Peveril Point.

We have a very close working relationship with NCI as they a vital declared facility to HM Coastguard.

It gave us great pleasure to present 4 new watch keepers with their certificates of competence.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Washed up

Whilst our colleagues in the Scilly Isles have been dealing with part of an American Space Rocket here in Swanage we couldn't quite beat that although last week when we were called to the washed up speed boat we found this too.

Ok so it's not a space rocket ..... Just the remains of a laser sailing dinghy.

Sadly at the time we couldn't recover either the speed boat or the sailing dinghy as the parts are too large. We will let the land owners know or if the owners can be traced they may be responsible for the clean up.

Many things get washed up and some are more hazardous that other items. If your not sure what the item is dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Weather Warning

Met Office Warnings Issued For:Dorset

  1. Yellow warning of wind

    0900 on Sat 28 November
    1800 on Sun 29 November
    A blustery weekend is expected across England and Wales with winds strengthening from the west on Saturday morning. Gusts around coastlines exposed to the westerly or southwesterly winds could reach 60 mph at times. Inland gusts will be less frequent but could still reach 50 to 55 mph. Further strengthening from the west is expected on Sunday where gusts around western coasts could locally reach 70 mph. Elsewhere gusts of 60 mph are possible, particularly in western areas.

    Please be aware of the potential for some disruption due to the strong winds.

Coastguard Rescue Officers - This is What We Do

Every day this week, we've shown you some photos from our cliff training session last Sunday. This video shows a little more about what we do and how we do it. 

 Could you??

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Happy Faces

Whilst we take our roles as volunteer Coastguard Officers seriously, its also good to enjoy ourselves as we go about our work.  These photos were taken at our cliff rescue training session last weekend.

The weather on the Friday and Saturday had turned bitterly cold with a biting wind and there was an overnight frost on the Saturday.  But, by the time Sunday arrived, the wind had dropped right off and we were treated to a glorious late November morning.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


Some good news from our training on Sunday; Allan, our SCOO (Senior Coastal Operations Officer), having let Kerry run the session, decided that she had demonstrated all the competencies to be approved as an OIC, or Officer in Charge.

That's great news for the team, as Kerry is something of an expert on rope rescue systems, being both a climber and a trainer of ropes course instructors, amongst other outdoorsy adventurey type things.

Well done Kerry!

Kerry and the SCOO discussing OIC-type stuff on Sunday

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Edge Safety Officer

The Edge Safety Officer has a pivotal role in all our rope exercises - whether training or for real.

When we arrive at a rescue, a holdfast will be set up (consisting of two or more stakes driven into the ground as an anchor point for a safety rope) to allow an Edge Safety Officer to get to the edge of the cliff safely.  The ESO will try to make visual or verbal contact with the casualty and will assess the situation and report back to the Officer in Charge (OIC) and Rope Technician who will then decide how the rescue is to be achieved.

The ESOs (we deploy two) are the key link between the technician and casualty at the bottom of the cliff and the team of Rope Operators at the top of the cliff.  Their role includes:

  • identifying, monitoring and reassuring the casualty
  • reporting back key information to the cliff top team
  • installing the 'quadpod' to ease the route of the ropes over the cliff edge
  • final safety checks on the Rope Technician before deployment (there will have already been initial checks on the cliff top)
  • assistance to the technician getting over the edge and identification of any loose rocks, ledges or other difficulties that he may encounter on the way down.
  • relaying information between the operators and the technician and controlling the operation by voice, radio, hand signals or whistle signals
  • assistance to the technician in returning a casualty to the cliff top (eg helping with the stretcher as it comes over the top.
  • ensuring the technician and casualty are securely back in the safety zone before the recovery is considered completed and the lines are locked off.

The Edge Safety Officer should be an approved Rope Technician so that he (or she!) has the skills to advise / assist the technician and can take over if the need should ever arise.

ESOs check and assist the rope technician as he goes over the cliff edge

The view the Rope Operators get. In this case the signals - a winding motion upwards - are to take in the lines 

The view the Rope Technician gets.  The white canvas is edge protection for the safety rope (blue in this case) to prevent it getting damaged on the cliff edge.  The main line(red) goes through the quadpod system.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Getting it Right

Yesterday's rope rescue training session was important because we haven't had  a 'cliff job' for a few weeks now.  Whilst that's good in one way (no-one wants to hear of people in distress or danger!), it does however mean that we need to keep training, and working hard, to keep our skill levels up.

The SCOO and OIC discuss an 'accompanied descent' with the cliff technician

The Cliff Technician - our very own Station Officer - checks his kit, and adds an alpine butterfly knot into the system to create a safety attachment point for the colleague he'll be taking over the cliff with him

At the cliff top, the team of Rope Rescue Operators double-check the line control system is rigged correctly before the technician is deployed.

Everything we do has to be done safely, and whether training or for real, there will be a number of checks and double checks before an operation can commence and whilst it is in progress.  The kit is also checked as we put it away, so we know it is safe for the next time.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Team Training

This morning the team headed out to do some cliff training.

During the week we will show you the photos from the exercise.

1st job was to bring the equipment to the "dump". The vehicle and trailer couldn't get to the scene ( it could if we wanted too but the ground was very wet)

Allan our SCOO was on hand to watch events and continually assess and develop the team.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Slip watch

The patrols this week checked the state of the cliffs from Shore Road to Ballard.

This bit of cliff under the Grand has slipped forward tipping a wall and railings forward .

Friday, 20 November 2015

Team tasked to boat under Ballard

For the 3rd time this month the team were tasked to a report of a boat washed up under Ballard.

The team very quickly established it was the same boat as reported before however due to the low tide took the decision to see the state the boat was in.

Clearly the recent weather has damaged the boat beyond repair and the Coastguard will continue to contact the owner so that the hull can be recovered.

The boat was checked for any hazards before the team returned to station.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Cliff work under the Pines

Finally managed to get out to see the cliff work under the Pines Hotel today.

Very steep bank which was has been built to allow work at a higher level. We would suggest that you do not climb or allow children near to the base of the pile of rocks.

At high tide you can not get around the base of the ramp - stay off the rocks.

In an emergency dial 999 and ask for Coastguard.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Boat Washed Up at Chain Ferry Slipway

Just after 7pm this evening, the team were tasked to Shell Bay to assist Poole lifeboat with an 18' speedboat that had broken loose from its moorings at a local marina. In the high winds, the boat was being buffeted against the slipway wall and was in danger of not only being severely damaged, but also of moving into the path of the chain ferry and/or getting tangled in its chains.
The speedboat was being pushed against the wall and rocks to the right of the slipway - conditions tonight were dark and very windy, making communications very difficult to hear

With a lifeboatman on board, the team donned full water rescue equipment and, once lines were secured on the boat, it was pulled a little further away from the harbour entrance and tied securely to the railings on the shore.  Once it had been secured, the chain ferry which had been temporarily suspended was able to resume its service.

With very blustery conditions, it had been proposed to leave the boat there for the night, but the boat started to take on a small amount of water, and, with fuel on board, it was considered better to tow it into Poole rather than risk it breaking up where it was. Once the lifeboat had attached a tow, the mooring lines were released and the boat was taken to a boatyard in Poole to be craned out.

The team returned to the station just after 9pm to clean up and dry the equipment.

Weather Warning

There is a weather warning in place with very strong winds.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Got plans this week? Check the conditions

Whatever you're doing this week , we hope its a safe one .

If you choose to visit the coast, be sure to check the weather forecast and tide conditions before you set out.

If you see some in trouble at the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Kept in the dark......

Training this week saw the team kept in the dark - they were only allowed to use their head torches to set up the equipment.

Brian, Roger and Steve are somewhere in the picture putting up and securing the quadpod.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


The final stop on the Cornwall tour was Falmouth, and another modern building to contrast with the traditional style Coastguard Stations I had been expecting to see.  When many of the country's Coastguard Stations were built in the 1800s, they were often to a standard design and most featured a familiar archway -our own former station at Peveril Point had one, although in its later years it was hidden away by an extension at the front.   Sadly, as more and more teams move to modern premises, there are fewer of these traditional stations to see.

Falmouth is actually quite a busy building; Not only is the volunteer Coastguard Rescue Team based here, but it is also home to 5 SCOOs (each responsible for 4 or 5 teams in their respective patches) and an area commander 'COAC' who looks after the SCOOs.  The RNLI is based in the right hand side of this unit, and just out of shot.

At the time of writing, Falmouth had responded to 66 incidents this year - further details are on their Facebook Page

About a mile away at Pendennis Head is the Falmouth Operations Centre, part of the National Maritime Operations Centre (NMOC) network.

Friday, 13 November 2015

As I was Going to St Ives

St Ives today, and another station on an industrial estate.   Apparently, until recently, the team here used to be based at the fire station at the end of the road, but the Fire Service got themselves a second fire engine and the coastguard moved out.

If you want to follow the team, they are on Twitter.

St Ives hair cut

And here’s an Occasional Blog Top Travel Tip if you’re going to St Ives.  Get the train from St Erth, it’s only a 13-minute journey, but it one of the most scenic branch lines you’ll ever travel, hugging the estuary and coastline all the way.  It only cost £8 for four of us, and we also managed to avoid the man with seven wives. Poor chap, all those cats and stuff.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Occasional Blog's Occasional Series is Back

The latest Cornwall Coastguard Station to feature is Newquay, which is based on the edge of the town in a fairly nondescript unit on an industrial estate.

I asked the harbourmaster where the station was based but he didn’t know.  It’s a pity his colleague wasn’t on duty that day, as he told me that his mate is actually one of the coastguard team, but it was his day off (from the harbourmaster job – not from the CG – he’d still have had his pager with him no doubt!)

No-one was about at the Coastguard Station, so here’s a bit of background on their website.
Newquay CRE took some tracking down - no-one seemed to know where it was

Back at the harbour, the RNLI have a station with two RIBs – an Atlantic and a D-class – and there’s a small seamen’s mission next door.

Sorry, there’ll be no update until tomorrow afternoon, I am having my hair cut.  But where will it be…? (the next station, not my haircut).

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Line of enquiry

Well it appears our Cornwall man has gone missing or has been unable to locate any more Coastguard stations on his travels.

So mean while back in Swanage........

The work on station just doesn't stop.

Kerry and Kyle changing the rope bags over and checking the rope itself. All 250 metres in each bag.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Team tasked to harbour entrance

Team members were working in the station when they heard on the radio of an incident at the entrance to Poole Harbour.

There was concern for someone who was going to enter the water near to the Haven Hotel.

With the tide on the ebb, the team declared to the NMOC they were available and were tasked immediately to attend the scene.

Poole RNLI ILB had launched and soon arrived getting the female out of the water. The Swanage Team arrived and kept a close eye on events from the Swanage side, until the Poole Coastguard team arrived.

The female was treated by ambulance crews.

Returning to Swanage the team then re attended the boat washed up on Saturday. Several more calls had been made to the Coastguard and they National Centre wanted to ensure it was the same boat.


Day 2 of the Cornwall tour, and this time its Padstow, or Padstow (St Merryn) as it says above the door.

Padstow shares its Coastguard Rescue Station with the local fire and rescue service.  There's a fire appliance stored behind the right hand doors, and a smaller fire truck behind the doors on the left. The Coastguard vehicle also lives on the left, behind the fire truck and exits the station from a set of doors at the back of the building and round the side.

I don't know a lot more about the team, but you can find out for yourself by reading their Facebook page here.  At the time of writing, their last call out was on Saturday, their 36th of the year, a medical emergency involving a young female.  On the same day, we notched up our century for the year with a boat washed ashore, closely followed by the 101st, some walkers at risk of being cut off by the tide. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Cornwall's Coastguard Stations - An Occasional Series by Occasional Blog

Occasional Blog, AKA Coastguard Nick is down in Cornwall this week and has decided to send us a few pictures from the various Coastguard Stations that he passes.  If he doesn't pass very many stations, it'll be a very occasional series, but lets see how it pans out...!

First off in this exciting new feature, it's Boscastle, which features a small garage for the MRU and a station building located next door at the back of a National Trust holiday cottage.

Boscastle Coastguard Rescue Station was flooded above the height of the doors in August 2004

Readers will recall that 11 years ago, in the summer of 2004, Boscastle was hit by a flash flood which was the result of unseasonally high rainfall on the two valleys that feed the river running through the village.  The river burst its banks, bridges were knocked down, buildings destroyed and cars swept away.  The Coastguard team were kept very bust that day, as well as our own Coastguard Helicopter 'Whiskey Bravo' from Portland, one of seven rescue helicopters in use that day.

There are loads of reports on the floods (Google it!) but this blog gives an account from the Coastguard's perspective, and is written on the 10th anniversary of the disaster.

Tomorrow:  Another station from somewhere else in Cornwall.....

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Nearly Cut Off

Yesterday evening, whilst attending to a small boat that had been washed up earlier in the day, the team became concerned for the safety of a couple of walkers they could see up by the chalk pyramid at north end of the bay.
Whilst the couple were in no immediate danger, it was clear that their route back would shortly be cut off by the rising tide.  Swanage NCI, based at the Peveril Point look-out, used their high power binoculars to monitor the walkers whilst coastguards kept the NMOC briefed in case the ILB was required for evacuation.

In the end, the couple made it back safely, although it was a good thing they both had wellies on as they got their feet wet at times.  Afterwards, the walkers said they thought the tide had been falling whereas it was in fact still coming in.

There are plenty of websites with tide times on, so there's no excuse for not knowing- or get yourself a tide table!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Less we Forget

Coastguards around the country will mark this weekends Remembrance events.

Friday, 6 November 2015


We take lots of opportunities to train.

Rope work is one of our technically challenging disciplines so we practise and try different scenarios.

It also a chance to check the equipment and ensure its in full working order.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Flares are not fireworks

Tonight is firework night - Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night.

Sadly every year Coastguard teams are called out unnecessarily after people fire flares rather than fireworks.

It it illegal under the Merchant Shipping Act to fire a red flare if your not in distress.

Flares are for emergencies not Bonfire night.

Coastguard team assist Dorset Police

Just before 18.00 last night , Dorset Police requested assistance to search the area around Old Harry Rocks for a missing person.

Arriving on scene the Coastguard team liaised with Police and requested both Swanage Lifeboats to search the base of cliffs whilst the Coastguard officers searched the top from the Banks Arms to Ballard Point.

The team deployed rope rescue equipment in places to allow a cliff technician to check safely over the edge of the cliffs.

Having searched for nearly two hours, Dorset Police confirmed the person had been located safe in the Bournemouth area just after 8pm and all units were returned to their stations.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Stay off the beach works

Please keep clear of the beach works. We understand the dog went exploring closely followed by the owners.

The stone is loose and the sides should not be climbed.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Summer - No it's November !

Looked like a summers day on Sunday - was it really 1st of November ?

South Beach Studland looking towards Old Harry.

Monday, 2 November 2015

End of the Summer

Area 9 SCOO (aka Allan) and Kerry yet again caught having an all day breakfast.

Yesterday saw the official ending of the summer in Swanage.

Yes whilst most go on the calendar here in Swanage we go on the closing of the place known as.....The Sea Gull Cafe.

You will now see many people ( emergency service workers) wandering about the streets of Swanage looking for that all important cup of tea. ( of course there are many other caf├ęs and restaurants in town with equally good food)

So a huge thank you to everyone at the Cafe for looking after us during the summer - we really do hope you will be back next year ( North Beach Car Park could always be an options????)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Team mark 25 years service

The team sprung a surprise on the Station Officer this week to mark 25 years service in the Coastguard.

HM Coastguard officially mark twenty , thirty and forty years service so the team carefully engineered the surprise to coincide with " kit night."

The team clearly had been very active behind the scenes and presented several gifts and cards. One particle comment in the card brought the length of time served into focus where it states " I was five when you started wow ........"

So a huge thank you to everyone for their support during the last 25 years.