Cowes Lifeboat Station

An entertaining week for Cowes Lifeboat Station, with light relief.

9th February 2017

Guild and shop volunteer visit – Credit: Nick Edwards

Cowes lifeboat station life is naturally geared towards operational readiness. But throughout most weeks, there are many supporting activities which are fully integrated into station life and which provide a rich and entertaining life for the many volunteers involved. All interspersed with rescue services (or “shouts”) at varying frequency.

Such was this last week.

Our Education and Visits teams are often busy, either welcoming visitors to the station or going out to schools and other groups and institutions, to talk about what we do and how to safely enjoy our waters and coasts.

For our latest visit, we had the pleasure of hosting Cowes RNLI Guild, the group of volunteers responsible for raising funds locally, who were joined by volunteers from Cowes RNLI shop and a guest from Yarmouth Lifeboat Station. It was an excellent opportunity for our teams to meet properly and to better get to know one another; so often we are all engaged in outward-looking duties with no time to talk.

The visitors were given a tour of the station and lifeboat and several of the activities and teaching aids used by the Visits and Education Teams were demonstrated. Much positive and pleasant discussion ensued, with the conclusion that the visit had been enjoyable and worthwhile for all concerned.

[Photo: Guild and shop volunteer visit. Credit: Nick Edwards]

Our lifeboat Station Training covers all aspects of operational competence and is both centrally and regionally managed by RNLI to ensure a common standard. Much training is provided in-house (and assessed externally) but some courses are also provided by external trainers. Such is the lifeboat radio qualification, the Search and Rescue Radio Operators Certificate (SARROC). This covers all the requirements of lifeboat voice and data VHF communication between vessels, shore stations and personnel, and perhaps rescue aircraft, between what may be several agencies involved in a rescue mission.

This week saw the presentation of SARROC licences to several of our crew, following a training course at the end of last year. They were presented by Andrew Cooper, a member of the national RNLI Council and a resident of Cowes, who said that he was honoured to represent the Institution in showing its formal recognition for a range of the station’s activities and training. In particular he noted the relatively new Cowes RNLI station’s successful efforts to embrace the whole town into its ‘Community life-saving plan’.

Mark Southwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager of Cowes station said of the course. “our volunteers give up a lot of their time for routine training and assessments, this course demands two days extra and is a credit to the volunteers that they make the time available. I thank them for their commitment.”

RNLI scarves for Education and Visits volunteers that have joined us since the last recognition evening and a certificate of thanks to a departing crew member were also presented.

[Photo Presentation to Education and Visits team volunteers. Credit Dave Davies]

Finally, as a form of light relief as it turned out for the week in question, Cowes Lifeboat was paged just after 20:00 on 1st February, to investigate a report of a vessel on fire, to the east of Cowes. At present we are operating Relief Lifeboat B870 (instead of our normal boat Sheena Louise B859 which is in refit), which was launched immediately.

Before Cowes Lifeboat arrived at the location, both Calshot lifeboats, which were on exercise, had responded and reached the scene first, to find an anchored ship with bright deck lights. As a result we returned to station.

Genuine false alarms still form an important aspect of training and we would rather launch and investigate for ourselves in these circumstances.

Author: Nick Edwards, Acting Lifeboat Press Officer and Deputy Launching Authority