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Hovercraft undergoing trials

New Rescue Hovercraft Arrives In Ferryside – and Gets First Callout

Ferryside Lifeboat’s new rescue hovercraft was delivered on Saturday following its initial sea trials, and has now been handed over to the crew to start training on the craft before it goes fully operational.

The craft was a little busier than expected though when, whilst it was undergoing trials, the lifeboat received a call regarding a quad bike that had sunk deep into mud on Llansteffan beach.   With the tide too low to launch the main lifeboat, Keith Smallwood of Vortex Hovercraft was able to successfully ferry 4 lifeboat crew across the river and mud in the new machine to deal with the problem.

The lifeboat crewmen were then able to dig around the quad bike and then pull it free safely before the tide came in.

Ferryside Lifeboat pulling a quad bike from the mud

The hovercraft, which was the result of a grant from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, is expected to go fully live late in 2017.

 

Crew pass driving tests for Talus

Over the last week a number of Ferryside Lifeboat crew were suffering from the nerves and anxiety of taking a driving test again.

These weren’t normal car tests though, these were for the Category H class of vehicles – to allow our crew to drive our new tracked launch vehicle – the Talus

Talus - tracked launch vehicle

Although the Talus will primarily used to travel up and down the slipway to launch the lifeboat, as the public are allowed to use the foreshore, all drivers must hold an appropriate driving licence to comply with the law.

We had hoped it would be possible to conduct the entire test on the foreshore and the beach, however it is a strict DVSA test requirement that the crew must go onto a public road and mingle with the traffic – and so for a few days, the Talus was a familiar site on the Ferryside roads.

For most of the crew this was the first driving test in many years, so revising the highway code, obscure road signs and polishing out the few bad habits that had crept in over the years, was a priority in the weeks before.

The good news is that all passed their tests, and we now have 12 crew fully qualified to drive the vehicle.

We really appreciate the patience of the village whilst these tests took place, and we’re sorry if we caused delays and disruption to your day!

The 29th Annual Garden Crawl

Hard to believe but that is now twenty-nine years of Garden Crawls!

Thankfully this year we were spared the heavy rain of 2016 and consequently we had a fantastic response in visitor numbers. There was a serious shortage of parking spaces within the village, so thank you very much to the committee at ‘Calon y Fferi for allowing us to use their car-parking space, a real bonus.

There seemed to be a constant stream of visitors coming into the Village Hall, buying programmes, raffle tickets and merchandise. Whilst the ladies organising the teas found themselves working in what amounted to a sauna in the kitchen area. They eventually raised a record £377 from their tea, coffee and cake sales a really fantastic effort. Thank you so much. Also thanks to Fraser who raised £124 from a merchandise stall outside his house and Mrs Field a new resident of the village who ran a Garden Sale on the day raising £100.

Live music has become such an integral part of the Garden Crawl and this year we were so lucky to have three events as part of the Crawl. Classical Music provided by Norman and Brenda at Bronteg, Jazz from ‘Silver Swing’ at Tony and Penny’s and ‘Super Hans’ at the White Lion courtesy of Sue and Dave, with Jesper providing a BBQ. In addition, Sue at the White Lion sold merchandise and ran the Raffle for us raising £368.

The event was supported by twenty-two Gardens, which again is fantastic for a village the size of Ferryside. Already I am hearing of other gardeners wanting to take part next year which is wonderful news, especially as it will be the Thirtieth Anniversary Crawl. We would be delighted to have even more if you are considering taking part. The Lifeboat crew cannot thank the Gardeners enough for their wonderful support, without you there would be no Garden Crawl and no funds for operating the service.

The ‘Scarecrow’ contest organised by Mike Bailey, again proved to be a big success, with the theme of Welsh Myths and Legends. Various Merlins appeared around the village, along with King Arthur, Rebecca and a number of incredible mythological figures from Ferryside’s past. We employed an independent judge this year and she found it difficult to pick the winning scarecrow, finally it was awarded to the School for their interpretation of Gwenllian.

Once again Alison and her expert team at Ty Elfed with their superb ‘Afternoon Teas’ were a star attraction raising around £600, along with the ever-growing Garden Railway, which Rob has put together with such expertise – including a Lifeboat, Helipad, Ski lift and Cycling Peloton et al.

New attractions at the Lifeboat Station this year were the Talus Tractor and, following successful grant applications, our new Hovercraft.

Although the Talus may seem rather large, it is a vital piece of equipment able to recover the Lifeboat from further out into the channel, plus it is equipped with a high-powered winch adding to our operational capabilities. It is fully waterproof, in fact it can be completely sealed and submerged to a depth of nine metres and then recovered at the next low tide. We expect it to give approximately twenty years of service, a great improvement on our previous agricultural tractors.

The purpose of the event is, of course, to raise funds for the continued operation of the Lifeboat (which has been involved in three search and rescue operations on one day recently). The event has raised what we believe to be the record amount of £3,270

A big thank you from the Ferryside Lifeboat Crew to all those who participated in the event.

Hope to see you at the Thirtieth Anniversary Garden Crawl.

Vortex Chosen to Provide New Rescue Hovercraft

Having recently been awarded a UK government grant for an inshore rescue hovercraft, we’ve been busy working with a number of hovercraft companies around the UK to find a supplier.

We’ve been through an in-depth selection process to find the company best placed to meet our very specific needs and we’re delighted to announce that Vortex Services have been chosen to provide our new craft,

We’ll be purchasing a twin-engined  version of their Mistral hovercraft, modified to suite our search and rescue function.

A basic Mistral hovercraft, similar to the model that will be supplied for our needs.

We were massively impressed with Vortex’s performance, capability and expertise and we’re really looking forward to taking deliver of the hovercraft – which is being purpose built for our specifications and is scheduled to be ready towards the end of May.

We’d like to thank all the suppliers involved in the selection process for their time and professionalism in working with us.

 

Amazing donation from J&J Wilson Shops

We received a massive boost last week, by way of a generous donation.

A cheque for £2,500 was given to the Lifeboat by J and J Wilson Shops after they raised money from selling heritage products in their shops this year.

The cheque was presented by Sue Murphy, manager of the company’s Pendine branch, and Trish Middleton, the area manager for J and J Wilson, who said: “Our company chose the Ferryside Lifeboat to benefit from the proceeds of the sales of our Heritage Products range, as we recognise the important work that the Lifeboat does in the area.”

Trish Middleton and Sue Murphy from J and J Wilson Shops Ltd get on board the Ferryside Lifeboat to present the cheque.

jj-wilson-shops

In accepting the money on behalf of Ferryside Lifeboat, senior coxswain Anthony Rees said: “This is a tremendous donation which will greatly help us in maintaining the operation of the Lifeboat.

“We have had quite a busy year so far, with shouts both up river and out at sea. These have included a callout to a kayaker on a sandbank off Pendine in thick fog, a boat with two people caught on Cefn Sidan sands and a boat with engine failure on the Towy.”

“The conditions can be quite challenging, both for crew and equipment. The salt water, sea air and sand environment is very corrosive despite a regular maintenance schedule. Currently our launch tractor is in need of replacement and as an essential part of operating the Lifeboat, is our main priority.

“As an Independent Lifeboat, we are totally reliant on our own fundraising and generous donations from the public and organisations such as J and J Wilson.

“This money will go a long way in purchasing a much needed replacement tractor. We would like to express our huge thanks to them for their support and generosity which will certainly make a difference for us.”

 

Ferryside Crewmember trains with Coastguard Helicopter

Lifeboat trains with Helicopter Rescue 187

Not the ideal weather, but a windy Easter Sunday was the date allocated to Ferryside lifeboat by the HM Coastguard helicopter rescue service to get to know the crew and craft of the helicopter team from St Athan.

 

Everyone got involved with the helicopter, an AugustaWestland 139 (an additional larger helicopter, an AW189 is on order) and some of the crew spoke afterwards of their experiences and emotions from the day...

Anthony Rees

“Organising a training session with a helicopter is not an easy thing to do. You’d think it might be easy for us being one of the UK’s oldest lifeboat stations, but it is not. However, it is a necessity and so we persist.

On the day there was a fantastic turn out from the crew, and all involved put in a maximum effort in order to extract the most from our short time with Rescue 187. As the Senior Coxswain I am immensely proud of all of them and I hope that the people of this community are too! The fact that Ferryside gives up so many people who are willing to risk their lives at sea, for free and in their spare time, simply astounds me.

It struck me that the training exercise was actually a great representation of what it is like to be lifeboat crew. You spend 99% of your time training, organising, cleaning or being bored in meetings; but then the pagers go off (normally whilst you’re eating your tea) and all of a sudden you are spending the remaining 1% of your time bashing into a gale force 7, whilst being thoroughly excited and terrified all at the same time.”

Cath Marks

“For those of you who may already know, manoeuvring a vessel in the limited safe zone under a helicopter is challenging.  As one of the helms on the Freemason during this helicopter training exercise on Easter Sunday what occurred to me, was the level of trust as volunteer lifeboat crew we have with each other.

Unnaturally my eyes in the manoeuvre had to be focused clearly on the helicopter at all times, not straight ahead. This meant the crew told me what was happening around me, the sea state, my positioning and where the winch and winch man were, all done in strong winds and a choppy swell. Thanks guys for this excellent training especially Ant for organising it with the crew of Rescue 187. With this level of training under our belt, it builds even more confidence in our abilities to try and save lives at sea.”

Dave Atkinson

“Though I will hopefully never be in a situation to be airlifted into a coastguard helicopter, having experienced being airlifted by rescue 187,  I'm in a better position of understanding to reassure casualties / those being rescued of what to expect. Also meeting the crew of the helicopter was great as putting a face to a voice at the other end of a radio always helps.”

Prior to the day, the crew had studied helicopter theory training and seen an instructional video provided by HM Coastguard, but all readily admitted, it’s not the same as the real thing!

Ferryside Garden Crawl 2016

Now that the sun is actually showing itself, and hopefully the rain is finally having a well-deserved rest, we can at last get out in the garden. The time seems right to give advance warning of this year’s Ferryside Garden Crawl. We are hoping, with good weather that is, to hold the Crawl on Sunday June 26th at its usual time of 2pm until 6pm.

Our Garden Crawl is an annual event where local gardeners open their gardens to members of the public. Visitors can then meander through the village, taking in the flora and fauna, and enjoying some refreshments along the way.

Members of the Lifeboat crew will shortly be visiting previous participants and asking others if they would be willing to open their gardens this year.

The Garden Crawl, as you may well be aware, is a very important pillar of our fund raising activities, and provides a large percentage of the funds required for the everyday running of the Lifeboat (fuel, maintenance costs, insurance and other overheads). 

The more gardens that are open on the day the greater the attraction, and the more we raise.

In addition, this year we are planning to introduce a Scarecrow festival! This we hope will be a lot of fun with prizes for the best creations and we would like as many participating gardens, individual houses, village clubs, shops and businesses etc. to take part.

For more information about the Scarecrow Festival, please contact Mike Bailey at Cliff Lea, Tel: 268098 or [email protected].

If you are willing to open your garden  (and we really would like more residents to join us in the efforts to ensure the continued presence of a Lifeboat  in Ferryside),  please contact David Martin at 1 Caradog Court, Tel: 267039 or [email protected].

Ferryside Lifeboat on a training exercise near Carmarthen

Ferryside Lifeboat on Exercises

National Coastwatch Worm’s Head has posted some photos of Ferryside Lifeboat on a training exercise on the River Towy.

The training took place on the Towy at high tide by Carmarthen bridge. The exercise simulated a casualty in the water who’d let off a distress flare.

The boat quickly came alongside and recovered the casualty safely – to the relief of the crew member who had ‘volunteered’ to jump in the rather cold water!