PLIRB Boathouse and the New Normal

As restrictions start to ease, here’s a quick update on our return to the ‘new normal’ at the boathouse.

 

charity events
Although our volunteers have been #rescueready 24/7 throughout the pandemic, our presence at the boathouse has been minimal. This has helped us to keep everyone safe, and to also so that we’re complying with general restrictions. As such, we’ve been limiting our visits to the boathouse to just those sessions necessary for keeping the equipment serviced and ready for call-outs.
However, the government’s ‘road map’ now guides us all towards a restart. So, we’re pleased to share that a phased return to our Sunday sessions will begin on Sunday March 28th. To start with it will still be just a few of our volunteers but we’ll gradually build things back up as restrictions lift further in the coming months.

 

A busy new normal
Being back at the boathouse means we can start carrying out our other essential work on equipment and around the base. It also means our crew training sessions can restart, in readiness for the beach getting busier. After all,  with overall restrictions lifting off the back of the Easter break and just as spring is in full bloom, we’re expecting visitor numbers to the beach to increase in much the same way as they did once restrictions were lifted last summer. It’s important to us and to the general safety of the area that we’re ready to assist when the new normal means an extra busy beach.
 
 
Our volunteers are very glad to be returning to the community with a more active presence. We certainly look forward to having friends, supporters and the public pop in to visit us at the boathouse once it’s permitted in a couple of months’ time.
 
 
Until then though, and particularly whilst mixing is still very limited, our new normal means the boathouse is only open to our volunteers. If you’re passing on a Sunday morning, perhaps just give us a wave or a thumbs up in greeting, so we can all continue to  stay safe for as long as necessary.

THE PANDEMIC HAS HAD A SEVERE IMPACT ON OUR INDEPENDENT RESCUE BOAT CHARITY.

IT HAS BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO FUND RAISE OR ACCESS GOVERNMENT GRANTS

TO HELP WITH OUR £10k A YEAR RUNNING COSTS.

If you would like to make a donation to help us meet our running costs, then you’ll be actively getting on board with us to save lives – you won’t be in the boat, but your donation will be keeping us afloat and rescue ready.

Thank you so much!

Taking a Team Moment

A sunny Sunday morning … but it’s not just about the training.

This Sunday’s training out on the water didn’t all go as planned. It was one of those mornings when the effects of the tide and necessary maintenance and checks on boats and vehicles of course took priority! In turn, this impacts on the type of activities we carry out  during our Sunday morning sessions.

As a result, this Sunday was much more about ‘getting sorted’ vehicle-wise, boathouse-wise and preparation for the summer season with a busy beach-wise! As usual, the team all pulled together to make sure that the necessary tasks were carried out. In Sunday sessions like this, this is done in ways which still accommodate the sharing of knowledge and experience across the team. For example, full crew volunteers are particularly great at showing new volunteers how tasks are carried out safely and efficiently, whether on the boat or in the base.

A team of volunteers is still a ‘working’ team

Watching all of this take place, it’s great to see the levels of teamwork and hard work which goes into making our independent rescue service so efficient and diligent. Of course, not every team member is there every week – several of our members weren’t available this weekend – but that’s all part of what happens and it’s another way in which the overall PLIRB team has a progressive and constantly adapting dynamic.

In fact, one of the real strengths of our team is that individuals step in and out of roles as required. For instance, someone could be leading teams or sub-teams one week and being trained in a new task or activity the next. This variety is great preparation for ‘Shout’ situations, when the team at base and on the boats will rely on whatever combination of individuals (and their skills) are able to get to the boathouse quickly in time to launch.

It’s a more than a little sad for us that several of our younger volunteers (all full crew members) will be moving away after the summer. We’re glad to see them taking their next steps to progress their future careers, but they will be sorely missed. This is one of the reasons we took the opportunity to grab a quick suited-and-booted ‘some of the team’ photo, even though not all of the crew were around.

All of these younger crew members readily share that being part of the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat has helped them in forging their chosen career paths. Thankfully for us,  they’ll be around for a few weeks yet and they’re keen to share their knowledge and to help other would-be volunteers to find out what it’s like to be part of our boat and base crews. So if you would like to find out more, please do come along to the boathouse from 9 a.m. any Sunday and chat to us.

 

Sunday Training with RNLI Hastings

This week’s training down at the Pett Beach boathouse was one where everything came together to result in a fantastic session!

First up, the weather was fabulous and conditions calm and fair. As planned, the Pulfer boat was launched but instead of a training session involving our other boat, we were invited to a joint training session with the Hastings RNLI crew.

Both teams met up with boats just off the Fairlight cliffs end of the coast. Much as we love their Shannon boat, it was great to see that the RNLI Hastings were using their smaller inshore rescue boat for the training session. This meant that both teams were able to practice alongside a comparably sized boat.

For approximately an hour we all worked together across different assistance and rescue scenarios:
  • Towing –  this activity included getting tow lines across to the other boat and, where necessary, ensuring that the other team was able to attach the tow line successfully.
  • Man overboard – there were a couple of Impromptu man overboard tasks to help rehearse recovering a person from the sea.
  • Running alongside – this is great practice for the helms of both boats as it involves travelling at speed and being able to manoeuvre one boat alongside another at the same speed. 

The RNLI Hastings team certainly kept our crews on their toes across the training, by adding scenarios into the activities. For instance, at one stage pretending there was no one able to attach the tow to their boat. In response, one of our trainees had to transfer across to do this for them, something which is quite probable in an assistance scenario where the person available to receive the rope may not be capable to attaching the tow.

In all, the session was highly successful. It really was a great training opportunity and very valuable to us to be able to practice manoeuvres with another team and boat.

As local Shouts often involve all local teams working alongside each other, it’s also particularly beneficial to practice working with the RNLI, especially as we’re currently right at the start of what could be a very busy season down at the beach. Thanks to everyone involved for making this training such a success.

 

No Launch But Plenty of Practice

This Sunday, the weather was wet and a little windy, but compared to the recent thrashing from Storm Erik, the whole beach seemed remarkably calm. However, the point of the tide at the time of training and the fact that further high winds were predicted, meant that we focused on ‘dry’ training.

Of course, ‘dry’ training still involves a certain amount of getting wet! Kev mobilised our recovery vehicle, to take the boat to a few different locations and environments on the beach (shingle and sand) so that the teams could practice supporting the recovery of the boat into the trailer from the different surfaces of the beach, as shown:

Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recoveryPett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recoveryPett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recovery

Training then moved indoors as base and boat crews spent time with our first aid kits. There are three good reasons why it’s important for us to do this:

  • For those of us who completed first aid training last summer, it’s useful to revisit everything in the kits.
  • For those who have not yet completed first aid training, seeing what’s in the kits is useful pre-training and familiarisation.
  • It’s good-practice to check through the first aid kits to check that everything is present and in-date.

Then training moved onto knot-practice for volunteers who still need to rehearse this as part of their training, whilst essential maintenance on the vehicles was carried out by our mechanic volunteers. Other trainees were also given GPS training, as knowing the techniques as well as the technology is also a vital part of success at sea.

Then it was time for a debrief and planning for future training. The next one’s coming around soon as we’ve also got mid-week training during the coming week – with our re-visit to RNLI Hastings on Thursday 14th (yes, a real save-the-date moment with our RNLI colleagues). We’re looking forward to this, particularly seeing their wonderful Shannon boat, and will update on here to share how the training goes.

We’re also planning another night-training session in the next few weeks, tide, moon and weather permitting. After such a long winter, it’s strange to now be trying to schedule this in for this month or the very start of March before the clocks change again!

In all, it was a busy morning at the boat house, with plenty going on and a considerable amount of planning for future work. If you’d like to be a part of it all, please contact us.

A Fine Day for Fixing & Keeping the Rescue Boat Afloat

As you can see from the photo, this Sunday we had a beautiful morning for training. The low tide and fair conditions meant that the beach was just beautiful –  or at least it was at 9 a.m. when the photo was taken! The same couldn’t really be said for later in the day.

As far as work to do and training is concerned, this time of year it tends to be quieter for us. As an independent rescue boat though, we have to do all our own mechanical maintenance so thankfully our volunteers who are also professional mechanics were able to take the time to carry out much-needed maintenance to our boats and launch vehicle*, so that we remain shout-ready whatever the time of year.

So, our launch vehicle has been topped up with fluids and greased and our large boat has had its radio fixed. This was a longer job than anticipated as the radio had to be removed, sent away for repairs and then refitted to the boat. Then of course it’s a case of ensuring everything is water-proofed and ship shape ready for the boat’s next outing.

Of course, our volunteer crew trainees weren’t forgotten, as a bright but brisk day offered the chance to get our trainees out in the cold and used to some of the harsher conditions we operate in. Trainees are all at different stages, with all working their way through the training schedule and being put through their paces with the various skills and tasks needed to be competent in the boat and in rescue situations.

This week, towing procedures continued to be an ongoing focus, as many trainees still need to get signed off on these skills. There was also a chance to look at flares and how they are used in accordance with safety and search protocols.

* If you’d like to know what’s happening with our reserve launch vehicle, please check out our GoFundMe Reserve Launch Vehicle page, which is where you’ll find the latest update.

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a volunteer role which offers a way to help others in 2019, come and talk to us down at the boat house on a Sunday morning between 9 and 12, or contact us through the website or our social media. Even if you don’t feel you have the ‘sea legs’ for it, there are plenty of other tasks for base crew, or committee and support roles, so do stop by to share your skills and time with us. 

A New Year of Training and Beach Safety Begins

A very Happy New Year to all of our visitors and supporters! Hard to believe we’re already a couple of training sessions into the new year, with both boats taking to the water!

Yes, our in-house crew training for 2019 has already got off to a flying start. OK, so that should be ‘floating’ but sometimes there’s a need for speed, which means our boats can literally be flying over the waves, as the header photo shows. 

*This photo was contributed by friend of the PLIRB, Gordon Butchers, who happened to see our training from the shore. Thanks for sharing Gordon!*

Our current focus for training in January is supporting trainees to learn techniques for rigging up tows and ensuring safe interactions between boats. Having two boats means we’re able to practice long tows, longside jumps from boat to boat, and management of the boat and crew positioning when moving alongside to other vessels.

This is vital training of techniques used when we’re involved in supporting a vessel which is drifting. It also offers essential opportunities to practice the transfer of our crew across to a stricken vessel so that first aid support can be given as needed. Towing a vessel is a surprisingly common call-out for us, so getting our trainees fully competent in all aspects of this type of rescue is a priority.

low tide double boat launch, training, beach rescueLow tide double boat launchLow tide double boat launch, rescue boatlow tide double boat launch, beach safetyLow tide boat recovery, rescue boat

Although our launch photos show a beautiful low tide, this type of training and rescue is extremely seasonal as we prepare for those unpredictably high spring tides and weather conditions. Already there are predictions of snow towards the end of the month and possibly into February, and where there’s significant snow there’s also the high risk of surface water and river flooding when the snow starts to melt.

With this in mind, all of our volunteers – established and trainees – train regularly so that we can be assistance-ready if our inshore services are needed in the event of inshore flooding, as well as for our offshore rescue support.

So, if it’s your new year resolution to get actively involved in supporting a community charity, don’t forget it’s easy to contact us through this website or our Twitter and Facebook threads, to find out more about volunteering with us in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo was contributed by friend of the PLIRB, Graham Butchers, who happened to see our training from the shore. Thanks for sharing Graham!