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!


Today’s training – maintenance mode

Despite a weather forecast which predicted winds and rain, we’ve had a beautiful day again down at the boat house this Sunday, with a superb low tide giving a fantastic coastal view



Much as we’d love to have been out on the water, vital maintenance was needed for the recovery vehicle winch and the trailer. These and other tasks around the boat were necessary, so the crew moved into maintenance mode for the morning.

To get started, this meant beaching the boat so that the trailer and launch vehicle could be freed up for the work in hand.

Now although a morning spent ‘doing jobs’ on the vehicles and around the boat house may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a morning – and definitely not as thrilling as being out on the boat – the truth is, having willing hands around to help with these essential tasks is what keeps us afloat here: if the equipment and services aren’t ship shape, then it’s impossible for us to serve the community effectively, so we work hard to make sure everything is as it should be.

And speaking of community, we had extra visitors today, all of whom came along to see if they’d like to get involved. Each visitor had a chance to see what goes on here in general, but also good that everyone could see that there are less than exciting tasks to be done, but still plenty of teamwork.

So if you have any skills you’d like to share or start to develop with us, or would like to see what we’re all about, then please come along or get in touch!

The first training for October – two scenarios, plenty of practice!

It was a beautiful day down at the boat house yesterday, although the sea had a real swell with the incoming tide.  With this backdrop, there was a real focus on putting recent and ongoing training into practice with boat-based scenarios.

Although the weather was fine, the launch of the boat was slightly challenging due to the slope and flats of the beach shingle, level of the surf and the rolling tide. 

rescue boat launchRescue boat launch, incoming tiderescue boat launch, tractor, trailer

However, the level of the tide and the swell of the water offered a good opportunity to target casualty retrieval, plus locating and assessing unidentified objects in the water, as continued practice in:

  • Using GPS and co-ordinates.
  • Effective radio and communication skills.
  • Helping trainees to learn the logistics of working together.
  • Management of the boat in the swell of the water, in order to safely manage dropping off the crew and retrieving the casualty.
  • Boat and safety awareness for crew moving between the boat and water, and back again.
  • Putting recent first aid training into practice.
  • Crew management of the stretcher and casualty – maneuvering safely onto the stretcher and then getting the stretcher onto the boat and then crew back onto boat without incident – all of which was quite difficult to do with such a swell on the water.

And of course all of this is essential practice because it’s the time of year when conditions in the water tend to be not only cold, but also pretty wild.

First up, the crews managed casualty retrieval using Ruth, our body dummy.

Casualty retrievalCasualty retrieval Ruth

Then the crews moved into a second training scenario: the suspicious object in the water training. To approach a suspicious object, the approach of the boat is extremely important, keeping the suspicious object down wind in case there is any substance likely to blow into the boat. Once the boat is safely positioned, crew can then observe and assess the object, with the aim of identifying if it is likely to be a dangerous substance. After identifying any poison markings, the information is radioed back to base, reading out phonetically.

This was all for training purposes, but when this type of incident happens for real coastguards / bomb disposal would have been alerted. In fact, these unidentified substances do occur in this area. Previously down here at Pett beach there was an incident of an unidentified substance, previous episode of substance smoking and bubbling in the sand. Crew investigated, patch of frothy orange, possibly a battery deteriorating.

Crew debrief showed that it was a good training day because new members of the team were challenged in the different situations and all crew members had the chance to work together with others they may not have worked with previously. As always, the beach and the sea also present an ever-changing challenge, even on a relatively calm day, which makes every practice and call-out situation unique. All of which means training is essential, especially across these two scenarios as these situations are two of the most common call-outs for us along here, and it’s all part of our work to try and help others enjoy these beaches safely.

If you’re interested in joining in us as a volunteer, please get in touch!

Coordinating Sunday’s training …

Although initially the sea was beautifully flat, weather conditions were a little on the grim side and the forecast offering high winds on the way, so today’s training was all about the base rather than out on the water. 

Trainee crew volunteers were split into two groups, one in the base and one in the boat. Each team then worked with an established crew member to learn all about the GPS system and how to use it. Co-ordinates were passed between both teams, as they leaned how to log, set and respond with clarity and precision, using the correct terminology, coordinates and the GPS system itself.

Radio and coordinates practice with the GPS and radio in boathouse.

Team A practice with GPS and the radio in the boathouse.

navigation, GPS, coordinates from PLIRB base

Whilst team B plot and plan coordinates in the base.










Of course, this is phase 1 of the training. For phase 2, the teams will be on-board and putting things into practice on the boat. Trainees will also need to take and pass their full radio course training in order to become full crew. It’s a long road from beginner to full crew, but an important one to get right in order to ensure we offer the best possible professional sea safety and rescue service.

If you’re interested in joining us as a volunteer, please call or message us. Or practice your navigation skills by coming to find us down at our base on a Sunday morning, to say hello and find out more!

Today’s training … low tide, high risk manoeuvres!

This weekend saw some beautiful weather along the Pett coastline, although as the season’s changing, so is the temperament – and temperature – of the water!

Despite being a low tide on Sunday (16th September 2018) the high winds created a very swollen, rolling sea which provided the perfect setting for two-man crew casualty recovery training.  This involved practising recovery of a person overboard in fairly rough seas. Rather than put a crew member at risk in the swollen sea, the crews used a buoy as the person, in this training scenario.

For this, the Tornado boat was launched, with successive two-man crews as running the training scenario across several crew changes allowed as many trainees as possible to take part and practise, and also allowed for different team dynamics across the crew pairs. This gave many volunteers to work in a crew with someone they may not have teamed up with before.

In their pairs, each team practised manoeuvring the boat in rough conditions. Continued practice of this kind of rescue in all types of tidal, weather and beach conditions is essential so that rescue teams can rehearse best-practice for recovery, i.e. minimum risk and endangerment to crew, boat and any casualty in the water.

On manoeuvres along the shorelineBringing the Tornado rescue boat into shoreGetting the Tornado boat safely to shoreUploading Tornado rescue boat to trailer

And it wasn’t just our own volunteers practising for all eventualities today … everyone down at the boat house and on the beach was treated to a very close up fly-by from our rescue colleagues in the coastguard helicopter, who were heading to the cliff face at Fairlight for their own training manoeuvres. In all, a busy day’s training for local teams!

Windy day, busy day

This morning’s session down at the base saw a windy day, high tide and plenty of activity!

First up, crew trainee Rob brought his kite surfing equipment down to the session so that crews could learn about the equipment and practice rescuing a kite surfer. This is extremely important training for the crews as Pett Level beaches are very popular for water sports such as kite surfing and paddle boarding – there was already a paddle boarder on (and in, at times) the water today too!

A paddle boarder makes an early start out on the sea

Having a volunteer who’s also a kite surfer gave us the opportunity to experience what’s involved in this type of recovery and to practice how to manoeuvre the boat around the additional risk of the kite’s lines, as there’s a bit risk of the lines or the kite itself becoming entangled around the boat’s propeller. Training allows the crews to practice an approach which does not involve getting between the kiter and the kite.

In a sport such as kite surfing which relies on wind and surf, both of which can be very unpredictable, kite surfers who fall from their boards are themselves at risk of being caught up in the lines and unable to swim or float to safety. In a rescue situation, if the kiter is caught in the lines then they are at additional risk of being pulled under by the boat if the boat interferes with the line. All of this alongside the regular risks posed to a person in the tidal waters around this part of the coastline!

And of course, there’s every possibility that a person in the water could also be a casualty, so as well as last week’s First Aid training to help support overall training, having a kite surfing volunteer meant the chance to prepare for a scenario involving a casualty in the water.

Trainee Rob gave the crew a quick tutorial in how the kite surfing equipment works, so they would be aware of the component parts and the way the lines join the kiter to the kite (through being attached to the kite at one end and kiter’s harness at the other).

In the rescue scenario, Rob released the kite so that kite came lines on the top of the water. The crew then rescued Rob and moved downwind of the kite so that the kite came to the boat for an easier retrieval.

Then there were extra visitors and activities going on, with a special ‘boat trip’ which was a prize in a local charity auction, raising funds for the PLIRB.

The last part of today’s session saw another trip out for the boat crew to scatter ashes for a bereaved family, whose loved one held a real affection for these shores and the work of the Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat. We are honoured to have been able to help.

So, a busy day and every single aspect of it in the very good cause of ensuring that we offer the very best professional rescue service we possibly can for our local community and visitors.

Apologies for the lack of clarity in some of the photos … today’s training action took place right under a very bright sun and, with the glare of the water and from the distance of taking the photos from the shore, it’s meant quite a few silhouetted shots. However, it’s still great to be able to view the crew in action, and to see the local coastline in all of its sunlit glory.