Watchful eye open across the coast
OVER the summer the Watchkeeper’s at Portdinllaen’s National Coastwatch Institution station have continued their daily watch for anyone in difficulties, on land or sea. This summer the ‘stand out’ incident occurred on Tuesday 29th August. When, as a direct result of information supplied by the NCI Watchkeeper, Her Majesty’s Coastguard (HMCG) Holyhead requested the launching of Porthdinllaen’s RNLI Tamar Class lifeboat to assist a vessel whose mast had collapsed.
The Watchkeeper takes up the story: “Whilst on watch I spotted a vessel with a white sail about two miles East of the station. After scanning the horizon I returned to check on the white sail, but there was no sign of it. I then used more powerful binoculars and after much searching found what I thought was a white dingy, with its mast and sail lying flat, and two persons sitting on the hull. The advice to NCI Watchkeepers is “better safe then sorry” so I reported what I could see to The Coastguard, giving them the position of the distressed vessel. They asked me to maintain a watch for any changes. After a short while the crew appeared to be waving their arms up and down, the sign of a sailor in distress. I reported this to The Coastguard, together with my concern for the crew’s safety, and they decided to request the RNLI Porthdinllaen lifeboat to investigate.
Meanwhile I continued my watch on the distressed vessel; and, shortly afterwards, was approached by very worried lady who asked if I had seen a white catamaran with a white sail. I told her that I had and, following my report to the Coastguard, the lifeboat would soon be on its way to help them. I invited her into the station to ask for more information about the vessel’s crew, and learned that her husband ‘skippered’ the vessel with her daughter as crew. We were then able to watch the lifeboat being launched and the highly professional RNLI rescue of her family.
n the following day, the catamaran’s lady crew member visited our National Coastwatch station to express their thanks. She told us how relieved she was to see the doors of the RNLI Lifeboat Station open, as their catamaran was drifting helplessly and she was really beginning to feel the cold. Also, just how big a Tamar Class Lifeboat looks when you’re sitting on the hull of a small catamaran!
This account demonstrates how three of the members of the Search and Rescue Organisation cooperate in an emergency. Another, completely different, type of cooperation between SAR members happens regularly at Tafarn Pen-y-Bont, SarnMeyllteyrn. Where, on the first Monday of the month, the proceeds of a pub quiz, are divided between Air Ambulance Wales and Porthdillaen NCI. NCI Porthdinllaen station always welcomes new volunteers, so if you’re interested please visit the NCI website for further details (click on ‘Find a Station’).
Tamar class lifeboat