A Day in the Life of the Coastguard
by Nancy Knudsen on 14 Nov 2010
'Bill I thought you could give me a hand with my boat.'
Well what made you think I would know where we are? .. .
'What Eric? What boat? I didn't know you had a boat.'
'Well I've just bought it and I have to go pick it up and bring it back to Newcastle...and seeing you've had more experience than me...'
'Yes, well that certainly was a great afternoon sailing I had with my son-in-law...learned quite a bit...'
'That's great Bill, I've got the address, somewhere down near the River Tees. We'll be back this afternoon, let's go!'
'Fantastic Eric! What a neat boat it is! Look at all the gear! Radios and everything. So all we have to do is sail down this river here and back to the Tyne, it's only a few hours from here.'
'So where are we now Bill?'
'O it's no trouble to find Newcastle - you just keep sailing north in the North Sea. We should be coming to Sunderland soon, up here somewhere. The current's a bit strong that's all. We're getting pushed the wrong way.'
'Funny Bill I used to go down to visit the Aunt in Sunderland and I don't see anything familiar.'
'Bill didn't we pass that jutting rock before?'
'Well Eric, things don't always go as planned when you're on a boat.'
'Actually it's getting pretty late. It'll be dark soon.'
'You know, Bill, now that a few lights are starting to turn on it's making it difficult to work out where we are. I think I might just phone someone and check.'
'999. State your emergency.'
'No emergency love, but we'd like some help here. We're on a boat and we don't quite know where we are.'
'Hold the line.'
'Humber Coast Guard.'
'Er hello, Coast Guard, this is Eric Sommerton here. My friend and I would just like a little help here.'
'Yes, Eric, I am getting a little static on the phone. Where are you?'
'Well, actually that's what I thought you could help us with. We're just going north from the River Tees to Newcastle and the current has pushed us around a bit.'
'You're in the North Sea?'
'Yes that's it, just for a bit until we get to Newcastle-on-Tyne.
'River Tees I've got that. Eric, there's a lot of static on the phone. Do you have a radio?'
'A radio, well yes there's some kind of radio here but we haven't used it yet.'
'Eric I mean a VHF radio. Do you have a VHF radio?'
'I don't know what brand it is if that's what you mean.'
'Eric do you have a GPS?'
'No I said I don't know what brand it is, but I could go and look if you wait on.'
'O boy, ahum...don't worry about it, we don't want to lose time here. Eric tell me what can you see out the window?'
'Well it's a bit hazy.'
'Eric I have called the Sunderland and the Hartlepool rescue teams to come and find you before it gets dark. But you have to help me. Can you see any lighthouses or headlands?'
'Er, well yes there's a tall red and white building that could be a lighthouse.'
'Yes is that to the south or the north?'
'Well sort of behind us, south, to the south I reckon, but we should be getting to Sunderland soon, and it's nowhere to be seen.'
'Eric you're doing well, but I need more help. What else can you see?'
'Well there's a bit of a rock here, big one, very big, sort of sitting out on the beach.'
'Marsden Rock. Very good Eric. I'll give the boys some more instructions. Stay on the line, we're going to try to locate you by your mobile phone.'
'Now Eric, I have the Hartlepool inshore and all-weather RNLI lifeboats, the Sunderland lifeboat and the Sunderland and Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Team all headed your way. They are going to be shooting parachute flares, and you'll see the boats in the water with blue lights. I want you to watch for parachute flares and then tell me where you see them.'
'Er yes, that'll be okay then. Er we didn't want to put you to any trouble, we just didn't know where we were and hoped you could tell us.
'Eric don't worry about that now. The North Sea can be pretty unpredictable at this time of year. Now while we're waiting, I'll just run through how to use that radio, and that'll help us a lot because the rescue teams will be able to talk to you.'
The Telegraph, 6th November, 2010.
Coastguard called after sailors get 'lost' on six-mile journey
Two men taking a boat from the River Wear to the Tyne called the coastguard after becoming disorientated – because they thought they had left a different river.
The pair and the boat they had just purchased had to be towed into Sunderland Marina after they became lost just hours after taking delivery of it.
They were taking the converted lifeboat from the River Wear to the River Tyne, an easily navigable journey of six miles.
However, they thought that they had just left the River Tees.
Humber Coastguard Watch Manager Mike Puplett said the crew failed even the most basic tests of seamanship.
He said: 'This incident shows how important it is to have some basic knowledge and training before setting out to skipper a boat.
'Preparation such as logging a passage plan with us and knowing how to operate the radio might have prevented this incident from happening.
'We sent the Hartlepool inshore and all-weather RNLI lifeboats, the Sunderland lifeboat and the Sunderland and Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Teams to search for this boat because of this lack of basic knowledge.'
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