Monday, 13 August 2012

Chapter Fifty one

The car has gone in for its MOT today so I am in need of diversion as I await to hear the result. She's a great little car and I know there will not be a major problem in her passing the test. My big worry is the rattling sound coming from the exhaust; the bald tyre; and the squealing brakes. I know all can be fixed...its just whether I have to sell my body to pay for it.
Anyway; enough of that.
Those of you who know me well will be aware of how much I wanted to live near the coast. It has been an all-consuming passion and dream of mine since childhood. As I have said before, the move down here has ticked every box save one. That was the box that said to move down to the coast while the children were young enough to grow up at the seaside. That was something that meant more to me than anything else; and with the best will in the world and the fact thay are both adults now, can never be.
There was however another box that has remained unticked. It has been part of me for so long, but in my heart I knew it could never be; I wanted to join the lifeboat service.
I have been passionate about lifeboats for over thirty years and always wished to be a volunteer. I have helped out with 'Shoreline ' and done the flag days. I have also helped raise funds when I can. Sadly though, living in Surrey doesn't give much opportunity to be a volunteer lifeboatman.
Moving down here did not further my dream of being on the lifeboats either. Aside from the fact that I can't swim; a minor detail in my view; it also seems I am now a little to old to be a new lifeboat crew member.
All that has changed now as I see an opening for myself.
Last year on the walk we became very aware of the National Coastwatch Institution. We didn't know much about them except that they were stations all manned by volunteers...and crucially, kept a watch out along the coast for walkers like ourselves as well as all types of craft at sea.
We knew of them, had even donated money to them, but never gave them much more thought otherwise.
Then last week it all changed. I had a letter addressed to Pednvaden Point, Portscatho. This is the NCI watchers station on our bit of coast. The other postman at Portscatho gave it to me and told me he always delivered it to a house in Portscatho itself. This I duly did.
However the chap who I gave it to saw me and gave it back the following day. He explained that the regular postman would often deliver these addressed letters to him...but he was nothing to do with them at all. He had been a coastguard many years ago but that was his only tenuous connection with this service. He did however, give me the correct address in the next village for the letter to go to.
I took it along on my way home, and small world, the man turned out to be the husband of the lady who brought the local parish magazines to my door for me to deliver. This was last Friday 10th August.
We had a brief chat and I continued on home. The following day (Saturday) in Truro...there was a flag day for the NCI and I contributed to that whilst marvelling at the coincedence.
And then yesterday (Sunday) Linda and I went to the Tregony Heavy Horse Show. One of the first stalls we came across was for the NCI..and they are recruiting for volunteers in the local area..
This was just the project I have been looking for. Linda has her volunteer work at Maria's Animal Rescue Shelter, and I have been looking for something for myself.
It may have been a bit of a pipe dream hoping to become a lifeboatman, but the NCI is a reality for me. On the strength of all these coincidence's and remembering how our move down here seemed meant to be...I have applied to be a volunteer with the NCI this morning.
There will be no more prouder or happier man in Cornwall if they take me on.
 
National Coastwatch Institution

 

Our WorkHistory of the NCI
The National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) is a voluntary organisation set up in 1994 to restore a visual watch along UK shores after many small Coastguard stations closed. NCI is a registered charity managed by a board of Trustees with a Constitution agreed by the Charities Commission.

In 1994 when two fishermen lost their lives off the Cornish coast below a recently closed Coastguard lookout, local people decided to open and restore the visual watch. When the first station was opened at Bass Point on the Lizard, NCI was born. Today 46 stations keep a visual watch around the coastline of England and Wales, with more in the pipeline subject to available funding.
NCI stations have been set up along the coast from Rossall Point in the North-West, through Wales, to Sunderland in the North-East. Each station has a qualified and highly trained team to watch over its own particular area whether it is a popular seaside town, busy port or shipping area. Accidents will always happen at sea and along the coastline. Wherever there is an NCI station a watchkeeper will be looking out for danger and ensuring your safety on the water.
High technology and sophisticated systems such as radar and telecommunications have vastly improved safety at sea, but there is no substitute for a watchful pair of eyes. Accidents do happen and a computer or technology cannot spot a distress flare, an overturned boat, a yacht with problems, a water sports enthusiast in difficulty, or children or adults in trouble, or possible pollution incidents. That is why our lookouts and watchkeepers are an important service provider to all those who use our coastal waters, footpaths and coastline.
Work of the NCI
Each Station is manned by a team of fully trained and dedicated volunteers who keep a daylight watch up to 365 days a year. Stations are equipped with telescopes, radar, telephone and weather instrumentation as well as up to date charts. Close contact with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) aims to promote stations to Declared Facility Status in order to become an integral part of the National Search and Rescue Structure.
Watchkeepers come from all walks of life and offer a wide range of skills and experience. Full training ensures that volunteers reach the high standard expected by the NCI and MCA. Regular assessments take place at all stations and retraining programmes are held to maintain standards and keep watchkeepers up to date with the latest legislation or improved operational procedures.
Watchkeepers are the eyes and ears along the coast, keeping a visual watch, monitoring radio channels, using radar and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They remain vigilant at all times. Surveillance work is mainly routine but watchkeepers are trained to act in an emergency, report to the MCA and, if required, co-ordinate with the search and rescue services.
A log of all water-based activities is kept during each watch and, when requested, weather conditions can be passed to yachtsmen and fishermen before they put to sea. Also with the new generation of web cams we can identify sea conditions for those who wish to check on the weather or sea state prior to doing any watersport activity, hopefully reducing the need for MCA response and RNLI call-outs. During each watch other activities such as canoeing and diving etc are closely observed, as are bathers, walkers and climbers who use our shoreline.
Watchkeepers provide a vital link with all the emergency services and can provide an emergency contact point on land for both sea and shore users.















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