Just another Day at the Office!
Friends I am being talked about!
When I say ‘incidents’ I don’t mean that I go around breaking windows and suchlike, it just seems that when people decide to get into difficulties I happen to be on duty. Is it that they feel so reassured and safe that they tend to drop their guard a little?
And that is all it takes.
Seasoned watchkeepers with a clean record either boast or bewail that nothing has ever happened on their watch – and then they get partnered with me and their duck is shattered. There was Tony who had an unblemished record until he was drawn in Ted’s ‘Lottery of Life’ to partner me (Ted does the roster – stand up and take a bow Ted!). Anyway on that occasion our peaceful watch was to be disturbed by an individual who carried to us a suspected unexploded bomb that he had found on the island.
Tony now has an interesting story to tell and we always exchange a smile and a giggle when we meet.
It had been quiet on that front for some weeks and then along came a social gathering where I was reminded of this magnetism that I seemed to have, trouble tended to find me attractive. I was also reminded that I have long been secretly referred to as “Jonah”.
Today was not meant to be exciting, the causeway was closed for the whole period of our watch so what could possibly go wrong? Joan and I turned up at 9.45 and did all the preparatory things like raise the flag, switch the radios on and fill the dog bowls with water, we settled down to what would be a good shift. The log read as follows:-
10.00 Watch opened
At 10.10 Joan noticed two people on the island. Binoculars and telescopes were focused and, incredibly, that was indeed true. How on earth could they have got there because the causeway had been closed for almost two hours!
What was strange though was that these people did not seem to be perturbed, indeed they seemed to be intent on hiding behind some bushes. It appeared to us that they had no enthusiasm for rescue.
We decided that the best course was to maintain a watchful eye and see what developed and we went into a strange situation where they were watching us and we were watching them.
The minutes went by and then one got up and stood by the post in full view, perhaps they didn’t want to stay there for the next six hours after all. I put on my Hi-Vis jacket and took the megaphone to the cliff edge.
“Hello, hello,” I shouted, “Wave your arms if you want to be rescued.”
An arm was raised and we initiated rescue proceedings by informing the coastguard.
I went back to the cliff edge and shouted that the lifeboat was on the way.
Then we heard the blips of the pagers as the coastguard summoned up the Cliff Rescue then the radio call for Horton IRB. Soon the clifftop was full of Landrovers, cars and people climbing into blue overalls and donning hard hats ready for the shoreside part of the operation. They processed down to Kitchen Corner where the strandees would be offloaded from the ILB.
I looked through the telescope to find that there were now four people to be rescued.
The causeway was long since fully covered so the inshore lifeboat had a direct passage to the pick-up point. The first two were brought to the mainland and the lifeboat went back for the remaining two.
All four now safely ashore and the lifejackets back on board the lifeboat returns to Horton, the now rescued strandees are brought up to the clifftop.
It transpired that they had made an early crossing, not realising that the causeway was about to close. That in itself, at that time of the day, was not disastrous. However one of the party had tried to wade across but had wisely changed her mind before it was too late. That decision saved her life.
All safe, no harm done. An uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation is brought to a satisfactory conclusion by professional co-operation between NCI, Coastguards, Cliff Rescue and Horton RNLI.
And well done Joan and Jonah!