Tuesday 20 December 2016

Lifeboat News

I have recently started writing for West Mersea Lifeboat and will, from time to time, post my Lifeboat News here.   If you happen upon a lifeboat post, fret not, artier etceteras will resume in due course. 

West Mersea Lifeboat news.                                                         
by Leafy Dumas,  Lifeboat Press Officer,   December 2016.                               

There have been some glorious high tides lately, cutting us off and affirming our island status.

There are often stories in the local news about cars stranded on the Strood at high tides, and our lifeboat often gets called out to hapless motorists stuck mid-way across.  For readers from far away, the Strood is the causeway (and only road) linking Mersea Island to the mainland.  It is sometimes covered by very high tides and there are always a foolhardy few who make the expensive mistake of trying to drive through despite our regular pleas not to.  Our mission at the RNLI is to save lives at sea.  A swamped vehicle stuck on the Strood is an uncomfortable problem for the driver and passengers but rarely life-threatening.

A more serious threat to life lies in the inability for an ambulance or a paramedic to drive onto the island when the tide covers the Strood.  This is where we come into action. These shouts, or medevacs, are some of our most crucial.  Our normal modus operandi is to take the lifeboat up the Ray Channel, meeting the ambulance at a rendezvous point on the mainland in Peldon.  From there we pick up the paramedic and take him –or her- in the lifeboat to the hammerhead pontoon on the island where our Coastguard friends will be waiting with a vehicle to rush the paramedic to the stranded casualty.  The ambulance follows by road once the tide has subsided.   In some cases we do it the other way around, taking the casualty in the lifeboat to a waiting ambulance on the mainland.

Beyond Ray Island the Ray Creek twists and turns it’s way to Peldon.  It can be tricky to navigate at speed on a dark night so we have placed a few marker posts in the saltings to help us.  Some of you eagle-eyed sailors may have noticed them shining out at crucial points along the edge of the channel.   Hanging over the bow of the lifeboat on a dark night holding a spotlight pointing low over the water, it is very reassuring to be able to pick out our posts and know we are on the right track.  With medevacs in mind, on a recent training exercise we checked the posts, replacing reflective tape in preparation for the dark winter nights ahead.  Photo by lifeboat crew, Tim Marshall.

What’s up next? 

Lifeboat Carols.  Sunday 18th December 2016.
Come and sing with the lifeboat crew!   Carol Service at the West Mersea Lifeboat Station,  Sunday 18th December 2016 at 3pm. Open to all.  There will be mulled wine and mince pies.

Boxing Day Dip.  Monday 26th December 2016.
This will be our eleventh year of dipping for the lifeboat. Come snow, come ice, come gales, come rain, come and test your mettle and wash away that Christmas fug! 

What is it?  
On Boxing Day morning brave souls from far and wide will converge on the beach by the houseboats. Some in fancy dress, some in swimming costumes or wetsuits, but all with the common goal of a bracing dip in the December North Sea to raise much needed funds for our lifeboat.  

Come and join in the fun; have a dip in the sea or support the dippers on the shore; meet Stormy Stan; see our lifeboat, Just George, and our flank station Clacton Lifeboat which will also be there.

Mulled wine and hot blackcurrant will be provided by the Victory to fortify the dippers, and marvellous Lyn and Heather from the Poop Deck will be running a tea tent providing refreshments to sustain us all.

This event is open to everyone. Fancy dress is optional. There will be prizes for the best fancy dress.  Dippers call 01206 382874 for a sponsorship form or you can enter on the day with a £5 donation to the RNLI.  Meet at 1100am on the Monkey Beach by the houseboats.

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