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.
The hovercraft, which was the result of a grant from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, is expected to go fully live late in 2017.
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
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!
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.
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.
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...
“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.”
“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.”
“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!
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].
Happy New Year!… I know it’s a bit late but as usual we’re all tied up taking care of various things and unfortunately the website doesn’t always get the love it deserves.
The crew are very pleased to announce only seven call outs in 2013 despite all the good weather we had. Sadly many of the call outs we did have were quite serious and we’re pleased that nobody came to any serious harm. Please keep an eye on tides and weather before you venture out near the water.
We have been planning activities for the year and we can now announce that the annual Welsh Open Water Estuary Swim will be held on the 21st June 2014. it’s a little earlier than the usual August date but this is to ensure that the tide will be right. As always, swimmers’ safety is paramount. There’s more information about the event in the dedicated page – just click on the sidebar.
Yes it’s that time of year again. This year we wanted to go back to having a real ‘show’ for everybody to enjoy so we are pleased to announce that we have Rod Stevens – The UK’s premier comedy stage hypnotist performing this year.
As usual the ticket price includes free food courtesy of the Three Rivers Hotel and Spa.
In addition to Rod Stevens we have DJ Gar and MC Tony Bean.
Tickets only £5 – an absolute steal considering the entertainment and food included. Doors open at 7pm.
Saturday November 2nd.
Tickets available from Lifeboat Crew, on the door (if not sold out) or we hope to have them in the Ferry Cabin, Steve’s Shop and Post Office soon…
We are just finalising the photos from the day and the unofficial times of swimmers. We hope to be able to have everything ready by the end of the weekend and we promise that we will have news up on the website as soon as possible. Photos also coming soon.
The swim was a huge success. A bug Thank You to all who took part either in entering the swim or in the organisation of the event. It is an event that grows each year and we owe an especially big Thank You to James Littlejohns who has tirelessly organised this successful event anually.
Also keep a look out as we hope to move the Welsh open Water Estuary Swim to its own website very soon.