Monday, 31 October 2011

Bonfire Night - Stay Safe

Dorset Police along with other emergency services have issued a warning about the dangers of bonfire night.

For the Coastguard bonfire night sees the start of the firework season and the misuse of flares. Whilst it may be a quick way to get rid of out of date flares, it is an offence - flares should only be used in an emergency and be disposed of properly at one of the National centres.

Patrols will be out over the coming week to minimise the miss-use of flares and assist our Operations Rooms in quickly reporting sightings - Its no record to be proud of but several years ago 34 flares were sighted in a 2 hour period whilst we patrolled on Ballard.

This puts people in danger - someone really could be in trouble and wastes valuable resources.

Enjoy Bonfire and firework nights but be responsible

Sunday, 30 October 2011

....i'm all helicoptered out.

This week will be a self enforced week of no mention or photos of helicopters.....i'm all helicoptered out.

Oh go last one  ;-)

If you need a quick fix, there are more photos over on Facebook.

Cheese Biscuit Time

In case you hadn't noticed, the clocks have just gone back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), so if you haven't changed your watch yet, you need to now.

This will make life slightly easier at the station where informally we tend to work in local time (GMT in winter, BST in summer) whilst the Operations Centre at Portland tend to talk in terms of UTC, or 'Co-ordinated Universal Time' all year round.

To all intents and purposes, UTC and GMT are interchangeable terms although whereas UTC is recognised all over the world and is always an official time, GMT is only an official time in the UK during the winter months.

Incidentally, when Co-ordintated Universal Time was born, us Brits wanted to abbreviate it to CUT. However, Johnny Foreigner wanted to call it TUC (temps universel coordonné), but we already had a TUC (well, two if you include the cheese biscuits) so the compromise was reached.

What would we do without Wikipedia?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Nee Nars

Yesterday, Deputy Blog mentioned how the blue light 'strobes' were replaced on the MRU and he made it sound so easy...

Well it started OK with Austen showing lots of enthusiasm

But Gareth soon wondered what he'd let himself in for....
Meanwhile, over in the ladies corner.....

Friday, 28 October 2011

Blind Date

About this time of the month I normally send the boss a text, but I havent managed it yet this month. I even saw him at kit night last night - I could have told him myself, but forgot.

So if anyone happens to see him, can you let him know the following which would have been in the text. Which I didn't send, as I keep forgetting to do so.

2, 4, 8, 9, 16, 18, 22, 25 (1700), 30. 5 or 19 to suit.

Medicals and Nee Nars.

This week some of the team had a medical, we have one once every three years to make sure we are fit and healthy. Usual stuff:-

Blood pressure,
BMI, (body mass index)
Hearing test
Sight test, and
Lung capacity – blowing into a tube.

So if we have an incident with a chap with a very quiet voice, sat in an inflatable boat with very small lettering (Font Arial 8) that needs blowing up in a hurry, we are perfectly equipped to deal.

At Kit Night jokes centred around the hard of hearing were very much in vogue (What? Eh?), and advice as to how to stop one’s sight deteriorating.

Following the monthly signing off of the kit the lads set about fixing the ‘Nee Nars’ on Austen’s truck. The ‘Nee Nars’ make noise but the blue lights flash randomly.

After some work two new light strobes were fitted. This involved screwdrivers and as such Dee (who is a lady) was unable to help on the basis that women and screwdrivers don’t mix. (This is obviously not HM Coastguard equal ops policy and I am only teasing; …you should see Dee smash in metal stakes with a lump hammer- she’s rather good.)

Anyway, everyone including the ‘Nee Nars’ are now in working order.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Equipment Stowage

The DSO has been busy designing a new way of stowing all our equipment in the back of the MRU and tonight at kit night he proudly unveiled his new design for storing the long metal stakes we use on cliff rescues. Years of being bounced up and down off-road have taken their toll on the old racking which was, frankly, no longer fit for purpose.

The new design incorporates a sleeve for each stake, and taking no chances, the DSO made sure everyone was fully trained in the correct loading and unloading procedures.

Gareth was first...

followed by Dee....

In these H&S conscious days, if you don't have the correct paperwork signed off you can no longer unload the stakes.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Coastguard Association

The Coastguard Association is a nationwide charity that helps look after Coastguards both past and present, who are suffering hardship as a result of an injury or illness. The charity is separate from HM Coastguard (although works closely with them).

The association have assisted Swanage Coastguard in the past and we are very grateful for the support they give us.

Why not support the Association by purchasing a coffee mug, teddy bear or shopping bag from their webshop. I’m sure they would make a nice stocking filler. (I can’t believe I’ve just written something about Christmas which is two months away- sorry readers!).

Not so sure about the umbrella; if I see one of the team on a shout in the rain with an umbrella there will be some merciless leg pulling.

‘We’re roughty toughty coasties and we don’t do umbrellas’

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Today we received a thanks from Glyn Red who had a climbing accident last month; nice to hear he is recovering

Cheers for that Glyn, all the best.


Part of the training on Saturday was get used to being winched, and knowing what to do once in the aircraft. Sometimes Rescue Officers are winched out following a cliff rescue. 

Before we start winchman Tony gives a ten minute briefing so we all know the score. Coastguard 106 has two winches (one as a back up)

Briefing on the winches

In more detail

The Winch Hook

The winch hooks are specially designed with a curve and to close fully to ensure these do not get trapped on rocks. At the top left is the slide that opens the hook and keeps it closed at all other times, a fail safe.

The little eyelet on the bottom right is for the zap line....the line that discharges the static electricity  that builds up while a helicopter is in the air. The idea is not to grab the zap line before it has discharged...otherwise you get a ZAP!  This would not be good.

Tomorrow I'll pop some photos up of us and the lifeboat earlier in the summer practicing winching.

Monday, 24 October 2011

In Flight - Coastguard One Zero Six

Dee pressing buttons in the techno seat.
Nick wondering if he left the iron on?

Gareth enjoying the views of Swanage

Although great fun, everyone who was on board immediately appreciated how, and what the pilots look for when trying to locate an incident. People are so small when viewed from the helicopter, they are not actually small just far away ;-)   .

So it's no real use waving your hands when on the ground as you won't be seen until the helicopter is up close. In fact even the blue lights aren't too clear. Best way appears to be a group of people wearing bright yellow, or the roof of the Coastguard Rescue Vehicle - again bright yellow.

It's certainly changed my mindset when working with the helicopter. A really useful exercise.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Coastguard Helicopter at Swanage

I expect this week the blog will have a few pictures of 106.

Here we have the helicopter "parked" in the Swanage Middle School field.

Thank you to the School for allowing us to use the site, in return we used the helicopter to clear the leaves from the field and anything else that flew in the westerly direction towards the site managers house.

The New Sector Manager

We finally caught the new Sector Manager on camera today.......

One of those real action shots he will be proud of......

A true leader

Setting example and leadership

With brown sauce too!

Welcome Allan to the traditional Swanage Coastguard early morning training session.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Swanage Coastguard - 3 new facts

Today we learnt 3 new important facts.

1) Dee - cooks the best bacon baps in the World....what a way to start the day.

2) Gareth has a "PINK" camera

3) We had one of the best training sessions of the year.

Sorry to the residents near to the Swanage Middle School, probably sounded like an airport with 106 coming and going.....more on this over the new few days.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Bacon Sandwiches

We've got an extra training session lined up tomorrow morning. Reports and pictures will appear here.

The proprietor of a local B&B has kindly offered to cook us bacon sandwiches before we train.

Reports and pictures will appear here.

Thanks Dee.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Radio Interview - Richard Cartridge - Radio Solent

Sadly I missed the Radio Interview on Sunday, but if by magic I have found a copy.

I know Austen will be really pleased I found it on BBC iPlayer. (It will be available for 5 more days)

It was in a section called 'Inspirational Guests'....high praise indeed.

Following a musical introduction by Michael Buble, our new Sector Manager Allan gave a general overview of the Coastguard Service. I loved Allan's comment about dogs ...'They chase bunnies, and that's why they fall over cliffs' ....You know what, he's spot on! Scroll through to 1hour 11 min & 30seconds to hear Allan.

Following another musical interlude it was Austen's turn.

Austen provided a commentary on life as a volunteer, which again was good. Scroll through to 1hour 21minutes to hear Austen describe his 'hairiest coastguard moment' (not dog related)..... I'd second that moment given I was next to him and he scared the life out of me also!

I know the team are all looking forward to some inspirational talks from Austen at the next training session.

Apologies to readers for the Paul Daniels' amused me!

Monday, 17 October 2011


Ian's challenged me to get 100 Facebook followers by Christmas; if I do I win a prize. Not sure what the prize is, but I would like to find out.

Unless the prize is to sweep the station or clean the truck.......that wouldn't be much of a prize.

I've never won a prize. sob, sob.

So please click above.

2nd Busiest Year

With 4 incidents over the weekend it brought the number of incidents for the year over the 122 mark.

This makes 2011 the 2nd busiest year ever for the team and after last years total of 165 it shows how busy our area is.

It would be rather unusual for us to get 40 incident between now and December but stranger things have happened before! Had July been its usual busy month we might be looking at another record, one we aren't aiming for as we try so hard to reduce incidents.

The 'Cool Shades Gang' Resting Between Jobs.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Another dog

Another two call outs for the team today and again one included a dog which had fallen from cliffs.

A passing motorboat had spotted the dog at the base of cliffs down towards Dancing Ledge. The IRT was tasked to investigate and discovered a note close to the top of the cliff from the owner saying they had lost the dog this morning!

Swanage ILB recovered the dog whilst the IRT made enquiries about the owner and thankfully owner and dog were reunited. (the dog appeared ok despite the fall)

Please, if you lose your dog close to the cliffs please let the Coastguard know. It can save time and its much safer for us to check with our equipment than risk your own life.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Saturday - Two jobs and the hound from hell.

Following an 'odd job' this morning the team were called to Guillemot Ledge, about 200m east of Dancing Ledge. A worried member of the public called to say a dog had been left at the top of the cliff and was distressed; a pile of clothes were close by. At first it sounded like a bad job. Fortunately it transpired that there were two climbers below and the dog was safely attached to the top acting as a guard dog for their kit.

Nick described the dog as the hound from hell with big teeth, sharp claws and.....yeah yeah it was a brown lab with a waggy tail. It seemed to like Brian but took a dislike to poor Nick.

The climbers were fine and the dog carried on doing its guarding. A well intentioned call so back to base.

The Ledges

Navarra at Full Stretch

Friday, 14 October 2011

Radio Ga Ga

Allan the new boss phoned yesterday and asked if anyone was available for an interview with the BBC today......

Due to work commitments and to make a change, I passed this to the team to see if anyone was free and could join Allan on a talk about dog rescues and the Coastguard Rescue Service.

Austen jumped at the chance, I understand he spent the morning at the hairdressers, getting his make up done and unwrapping a new uniform.

Sadly I forgot to mention in fact it was a radio interview for radio Solent !

So if you have a spare moment, tune in on Sunday - BBC Radio Solent - between 3 and 4 pm and you will hear Austen tell the South coast what its like being a Coastguard!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I see

I see said Eric, testing out a new pair of binoculars ...... Bright yellow should be easy to spot and at least he had them the right way round whilst testing them.

This was training the other night with Allan our new Sector Manager, chart work was the main topic followed by map work , tea drinking and finally testing the lighting equipment as the nights are drawing in quickly.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Push The Button - Fire Service

Another Emergency Service has a great idea to promote their message to test your smoke alarms weekly.

Staffordshire Fire Service  Promo

Nice one Trumpton.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

History of the Coastguard

In 1809 the Preventative Water Guard was established and can be regarded as the immediate ancestor of HM Coastguard. Its primary objective was to prevent smuggling, but it was also responsible for giving assistance to shipwrecks.

Each Water Guard station was issued with Manby’s Mortar, which was invented by Captain George William Manby. The mortar fired a shot with a line attached from the shore to the wrecked ship and was used for many years.

In 1821 a committee of enquiry recommended that responsibility for the Preventative Water Guard be transferred to the Board of Customs. The Treasury agreed, and in a Minute dated 15 January 1822, directed that the preventative services, which consisted of the Preventative Water Guard, cruisers, and Riding Officers should be placed under the authority of the Board of Customs and in future should be named the Coast Guard.

In 1829 the first Coast Guard instructions were published and dealt with discipline and directions for carrying out preventative duties. They also stipulated that when a wreck took place, the Coast Guard was responsible for taking all possible action to save lives, to take charge of the vessel and to protect property.

Efficiency drives in the 1990s made Her Majesty's Coastguard a government executive agency, and then in 1998 the Marine Safety Agency and the Coastguard Agency were joined to become the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

HRH The Prince of Wales is an honorary Commodore of HM Coastguard.

(From MMCA Website)

Coastguard Consultation

Update on the Ops Room Consultation and support from the local MP.

Monday, 10 October 2011


We have been trialling a new heat sensitive camera for use in searches. It's very much like that used by the fire service although modified for search use.

The device is about the size of a pair of binoculars and is armoured and waterproof making it almost Coastguard proof. It even has a red button to take photos.

The device has number of display options which allow the user to toggle between Red and Blue or Black and White. Each display shows different heat ranges and in some circumstances one setting is better than the other. I don't know why but there's probably a technical explanation, I just know it works.

Red/Blue Display

Black/White Display

We can even monitor Ian's tea and biscuit consumption.

The device is so sensitive it can pick up heat from a person who was leaning against wall minutes before hand.  I can honestly say we could see the wires and pipes in the wall and heat from mobile phones. Even footprints! A really great tool, although rather expensive.

I used it last week to look for a cat. It may sound silly but the owner was concerned that her cat had got locked in one of a row of garages. The device is sensitive enough to pick up the heat signature of even a cat standing behind a garage door, so I thought it was worth a try.

Last week to test it in a proper search situation Austen went to hide in some bushes (not something he does too regularly) ; it took about a minute for the team to find him.

It was easy-peasy as he is a big heat source.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Blues and Twos

Its the 11th Swanage Blues Festival this weekend, and top name artistes will be performing all round the town all weekend. Indeed as I write this, I am sat in a well known corner cafe (with free WiFi - thanks!) listening to a guy called Andrew Bazeley on the guitar - he's pretty good. I can't tell you the name of the cafe (with free WiFi and free blues music), but I must say its a really Fun World to be in Swanage this weekend.

Blues Fest details here

A dark day

The 7th October will always be a very dark day for the team, 7 years ago we lost one of our team member - "Michael "SPIKE" Williamson.

For a young Station Officer at the time, it was a difficult period as there is no training or guidance in the manuals to tell you how to deal with such a difficult situation. If fact when it comes to the management of the teams in general there is often a lot of work done by the Station Officers and their Deputies which many team members never see or hear about but that is the role of a manager.

Although volunteers, 10 to 13 team members will at times need support, guidance or welfare matters addressed. This is on top of the daily "Coastguard issues "like training and ensuring team members are fit for duty. Generally team matters flow with support and some guidance but sometimes decisions are made in the interests of others which not every team member will support - this is called the "joys of being in charge". As volunteers there are rules and regulations to follow and with the support of the Sector Manager these have to be employed to ensure the conduct of individuals is correctly managed.

Its always difficult to lose any team member for what ever reason, especially when they have given a lot to the Service.......the following weeks when Spike was lost were used to remember, continue and find a replacement, not easy.

Spike will never be forgotten, a visit to his grave with fresh flowers and quiet words will ensure his 30 years service to the town and Coastguard are remembered.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Search successful

In missing kitten non coastguard related news; Bubbles the kitten has been found.

Blogger- iPhone

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Time is running out

Only two days left for people to have their say on the future of the Coastguard.

Make sure you have your say.....

Saturday, 1 October 2011

October or August

Yet again the seasons seem muddled up, with the traffic on the roads and the queue on the Corfe/Studland road you would think its August not October.

With this excellent weather came the coastal users and it was good to see so many able to use their boats or the beach.

Sadly the weather brought out a few people out to spoil other peoples enjoyment of the beach by racing about on their jet skies. The patrol team along with Dorset Police were tasked to "have words of advice" down by the Parish slipway, however on route the Coastguard team were diverted to Anvil Point for another incident. I understand this left the Police to have words with those jet skis and pointed out they were causing a nuisance.

With the weather set fair for a few more days we want people to enjoy the area but not to spoil other peoples enjoyment. Again we ask for people to respect each other out on the water.