Today’s Training: All About the Base – an Open Day update, and visitors!

Today’s training involved spending time on the base, getting things a little ship-shape with our upcoming Open Day in mind!

To start off with, time was spent …

  • Clearing and tidying in the boathouse.
  • Organising some of the events taking place on the Open Day itself.
  • With boat crews discussing and outlining plans for Open Day’s display activities – but those details are still hush-hush (no spoilers here)!

The morning ended with visitors – comedian Jo Brand and her brother Bill! Both have strong family links with the Hastings and Pett Level areas (as anyone whose read Jo’s autobiography Look Back In Hunger will know) and they popped into see us at the base. After a warming coffee, on what was a pretty miserable day compared to the lovely weather we have been experiencing, members of the team showed them around the boathouse for a look at the Margaret and John Pulfer boat.

Jo also agreed to a cheeky photo shoot – many thanks to Bill for taking the photo!

It was great to have such fun visitors and a real privilege to be able to share what we do with others who are so familiar with the area and share such fond memories of the local coastline.

Looking forward to seeing you again Jo and Bill and thanks again for stopping by.


Mayday shout in July

On Sunday 15th July 2018, after a busy (and hot) morning of base and boat crew training, the crew received a call out.
Around 3.15 pm a “mayday” call was received, initially with the position of Dymchurch. After some uncertainty about reported position, the “mayday”  was given out again, this time picked up by the Fairlight aerial and coastguards.
As this is close to us, crew were put on standby, especially as many were still at the boathouse undertaking additional repairs to equipment. Several other crew members who had already left after training also returned to the base after receiving the initial alert.
After being stood down by Dover, and closing up the boathouse, the call then came through from the coastguards, requesting launch from the PLIRB.
Tornado boat (archive image, not from the day).
With launch and base crew support, the Tornado boat launched with 3 crew members on board, and searched along the coastline to the unused Fairlight coastguard station. Nothing out of the ordinary was identified and the crew returned safely and were then stood down.
The coastguard helicopter was also in attendance, first along at the Rye end of the area, then back along to Pett and Fairlight.
For information about our other call-outs, please check out our SHOUTS page.

Today’s training: two boats, a tractor and a very low tide

Today’s training session brought the base and boat crews the challenge of an exceptionally low tide  and the need to launch both boats in order to practice towing and use of stretcher between the two boats.

This meant that Kev had to get both boats down to the sea in tandem, using the tractor. This kind of double launch is particular hazardous on the steep shingle ridge: it’s important to keep an eye on the front, to avoid jack-knifing the boat / tractor combination because if this happened, the rear would also jack-knife.

And that’s without the hazards associated with moving vehicles on the beach generally, and the additional problems of a low tide launch in the Pett beach area: submerged hazards, sinking sand and slippery rocks and timbers.

Oh and did we mention that on a bright, sunny Sunday in July the beach is already starting to get busy with swimmers, sunbathers, walkers and dog walkers?

Thankfully, Kev’s not only up to the challenge but also extremely skilled in manoeuvring the tractor safely.

Once safely launched, the two crews practised boat towing between both boats – it’s particularly important that the crew of the smaller Tornado practice handling and controlling the towing of a larger boat, in case they need to take this action in a rescue situation. In this instance, although the term used is ‘towing’ technically the smaller vessel is actually using a controlled ‘push’ to manoeuvre the large boat to safety.

The crews also took the opportunity to practice stretcher handling between the two boats. This particular activity is an extension of recent casualty retrieval training, as managing a casualty safely is of paramount importance:

  • To prevent further injury
  • To ensure the casualty is comfortable (as possible) during transfer to the ambulance.
  • To ensure that crew are well practised in casualty retrieval.

There are limited photographs of the crews actually training today as they were necessarily a long way from shore (and the paddling photographer) with such a low tide!


Successful stretcher and ‘casualty’ retrieval of crew trainee Rob

Two boats, one low tide, one successful training session!

Sailability Saturday, RNLI Open Day and More Tractor Troubles

Saturday 14th July 2018 dawned bright and beautiful and saw some of the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat crew attending the Rye Harbour Sailing Club’s July Sailability event to provide water safety support.

The weather was particularly spectacular (a far cry from the bright but pretty chilly days back in May where the crew also joined in with RHSC’s Sailability event). 

For today’s event, the Rye Harbour area was busy both quayside and on the water with visitors attending the RNLI Rye Harbour Open Day, would-be sailors joining in with the RHSC’s event and an assortment of leisure and fishing boats travelling down the harbour and along to Hastings ready for Pirate Day!

There was also a bit of a wait for boats at the river mouth as the highest point of the tide saw a large dredger boat going back out to sea, which caused all other river ‘traffic’ to pause to one side and watch this giant vessel make its way out of the harbour.

Make way for Neptune

But once the big boat was out of the way, there was soon quite a flotilla of smaller boats eagerly setting sail … including ours!

Busy harbour, lots of water safety watching for the crew

Our crew for the afternoon, Andy, Steve, Isaac and John in the Margaret and John Pulfer boat supported Luey’s crew as they tacked along the harbour mouth and up the River Rother.

Boat crew: Isaac, John, Steve and Andy

The tide seemed to remain high for quite some time but once it dropped, it went out pretty quickly, causing a few problems for sailing boats which had been moored temporarily and then found themselves dry-banked. Our crew were able to help pull the boats up to safety.

Assisting with sail boat recovery


Also in action onshore

Once the event was over, Rye Sailing Club provided plenty of refreshments for the hungry and thirsty crew  – many thanks for this.

We’re not affiliated with the RNLI, as we’re an independent rescue boat charity. But of course, we all have a common goal – to ensure safety in local waters, so it was great to spend time working alongside our RNLI colleagues from Dungeness and Rye Harbour today. Particular thanks too, tthe kind crew members from RNLI Rye Harbour lifeboat who supplied our crew with tea whilst they were all waiting for the large dredger to be clear of the harbour so other events could begin. Much appreciated.

However, it wasn’t plain sailing for all of the PLIRB crew this afternoon as, meanwhile, there were a few technical hitches with the tractor. Having launched the crew for the event, the tractor’s steering ram hoses burst which stranded the tractor in the shingle and emergency repair to replace both steering ram hoses was needed.

All this had to be carried out as an emergency so that:

  • The boat could be recovered once it returned
  • The tractor would not be at risk of being stranded in the water once the tide came back in.
  • The tractor would be repaired and working over the weekend, as the fine weather means there’s every chance of a Shout at any time.[Edited to add: as actually happened on Sunday 15th July].

All of which demonstrates that all donations we receive, however large or small are much appreciated and do indeed help us towards ongoing costs, as well as new equipment because all PLIRB equipment needs constant investment to keep it functioning safely.

Sea Sunday

This week’s Sunday session (8th July 2018) wasn’t a training session for crew, but instead everyone here at the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat played host to visitors from local churches for the annual Sea Sunday service.

Sea Sunday is a united service arranged by the united Christian Churches in Pett:

  • The Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Peter, Pett.
  • Pett Methodist Church.
  • St. Nicholas Church, Pett level.

Many visitors will recognise as St. Nicholas Church as the small chapel which is located right next to the PLIRB base. St. Nicholas is the Patron Saint of sailors and fishermen (among many other people) so the blessing of the boat in the shade of the boathouse and shadow of the chapel is a special community event.

The service included hymns, songs and story-telling from local school children and an official blessing of the boat by Rector Richard Barron.

Very unfortunately, we were struggling with tractor problems. This meant that the Margaret and John Pulfer boat, which would usually be on the slipway for the blessing, remained in its boathouse whilst crew mechanics carried out vital repairs on the tractor.

So, despite the sunshine and our many visitors, repair work had to continue throughout the service because the fine weather we’re having means that we’re on regular ‘stand by’ for Shouts across the local coastline. The Camber beach area is proving particularly popular whilst the weather holds and it’s essential to ensure that our vehicles are all ‘rescue-ready’ at all times.

The service ended with the PLIRB crew and committee hosting refreshments for our visitors. It was wonderful to see everyone and to feel such a part of the local community. Thank you all so much.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the St. Nicholas Church and its long association with local sea rescue, please do visit the chapel and pick up a leaflet or visit

PS: The tractor is now working again! 🙂