Our fishermen are the backbone of the community. They wake early before the sun has risen and head down to the harbour to take to the sea single-handed in their wee boats. It’s hard work hauling hundreds of lobster pots a day, and it’s also dangerous. Working single-handed, among the rocks, you have to be careful for if something goes wrong assistance isn’t immediately at hand. That’s why our fishermen rely on our Lifeboat.
And this morning when one of our fishermen’s small boats got its propeller caught in a rope, the St Abbs lifeboat was just minutes away.
The boat had fouled its propellor near the rocks in Horsecastle Bay. The alarm was raised and the St Abbs Lifeboat lauch at 7:30am this morning. And was alongside the fouled boat within a few minutes of lauching. After ascertaining the situation one of our crew members entered the water and cut the rope fouling the properllor away The lifeboat and fishing boat then returned safely to St Abbs harbour.
The RNLI Executive’s proposal to close the St Abbs Lifeboat Station will put our fishermen at risk. These hardworking men deserve better from the charity who’s goal is to “Save Lives at Sea”.
Please sign our online petition and help us keep our fishermen safe.
The petition will be hand-delivered to the RNLI HQ in Poole next Tuesday 1st September.
The sheer numbers of people who are deeply concerned about this proposed closure demands that it goes directly to the executives of the RNLI who have made this flawed, heavily criticised and dangerous decision.
You still have time to sign the online petition.
The paper petitions numbering approximately 5,300 plus a cover sheet representing the online signatures of approximately 7,200 (and climbing) will be handed over by two members of St Abbs lifeboat crew, and one lifeboat committee member.
12,500 people is a huge number and we thank each and every one of you. We have also had wonderful backing from organisations and individuals like the National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Sub Aqua Club The British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) the Scottish Minister for Community safety, our local MP and MSPs, 46 MPs who signed the Early Day Motion in the Commons and Scottish Borders Council…. all have expressed deep concern about this closure.
That is without mentioning the thousands of RNLI contributors and supporters who have contacted us individually expressing their concern…. a phrase we have seen regularly is “I pay in to the RNLI to help keep stations open, not to see them shut”.
The few highly-paid executives making this decision must listen to the people who make the charitable donations from which they draw their salaries, if they won’t listen to them, then who to?
The RNLI only exists due to the generosity of the British public, and they should remember who provides the money that pays their wages.
The unpaid volunteer crews around the UK need their support, and decisions like this undermine the extraordinary hard work the amazing crews put in on a daily basis.
Thank you to everyone from all round the UK and beyond for your continued support.
St Abbs Lifeboat Crew
The RNLI are still proposing to close the St Abbs Lifeboat Station on the 8th September and then on the 1st October the RAF Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter service will be withdrawn from RAF Boulmer, Northumberland.
Aftert the 1st October search and rescue helicopters will be operated by the private sector company “Bristow Group” and sadly as part of this change there will no longer be SAR helicopters based at RAF Boulmer. This means that instead of the helicopters only having to travel from Boulmer – 40 miles from St Abbs. The nearest SAR helicopters will now be based at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport – 100 miles from the St Abbs – and Humberside Airport, which is 175 miles away.
Winching an injured diver aboard at St Abbs Harbour.
We would all (lifeboat crew, community, divers, walker, anglers, surfers, kayakers, sailors and fishermen of St Abbs) like to say a big thank you to the men and women, past and present of RAF 202 Squadron “Search and Rescue” based at RAF Boulmer for all their help over the years.
You’ve been there to rescue people stuck on the cliffs, airlift divers to the decompression chamber in Aberdeen, take our injured fishermen to hospital. And have joined us in search operations when someone has been lost at sea.
Those big yellow Seaking’s have become a real sign of hope for those in distress.
And once again on Sunday night (23rd August 2015) you joined the St Abbs Lifeboat to search for a surfer reported missing from Coldingham Sands. Luckily, after two hours the search was called off as all surfers had been safely accounted for.
So good luck and best wishes for the future. For when you cease operations on October 1st you will leave a big hole in “Search and Rescue” operations in this part of the UK. Thank you from all your friends in St Abbs.
The St Abbs lifeboat was called out today 6:20pm (23rd August 2015) to search for a missing surfer at Coldingham Sands. The St Abbs lifeboat was joined in the search by the RAF Sea King SAR Helicopter based out of Boulmer, Northumberland.
Luckily the search for the surfer was called off when it was established that everyone surfing at Coldingham Sands had been accounted for.
Sadly the search and rescue (SAR) helicopters based out of RAF Boulmer will be withdrawn from the 1st October 2015. This means instead of the helicopters travelling from Boulmer – 40 miles from St Abbs. The nearest SAR helicopters will be based at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport – 100 miles from the St Abbs – and Humberside Airport, which is 175 miles away.
Search and Rescue Sea King from RAF Boulmer joins the search
We’d like to thank the SAR crews based out of Boulmer who have saved the lives of so many over the years. And we’ll like to ask the RNLI Executive to reconsider their decision to close the St Abbs Lifeboat Station.
The coast around St Abbs is such a popular water sports location a boat with the capabilities of the B class is required, especially following the loss of the SAR Helicopter based at RAF Boulmer.
The Times has published a two page article today (21st August 2015) by journalist Kenny Farquharson, titled “10,000 supporters implore: keep St Abbs lifeboat station open”.
We’ve tried to be as positive as possible, because our goal is to stay under the umbrella of the RNLI,” Mr Gibson says. ”We’ve saved four lives since the closure was announced in May. You’ve seen the letter. She [Mr Jeffery’s friend) would not be here today were it not for the quick response of these guys. They were out in four minutes. “We’re going to stay optimistic right to the very end. If they’re going to close us, we need to be able to stand up on that brae above the harbour after September 8 and know with a clear conscience that we fought as hard as we
possibly could.” – Words of Euan Gibson quoted from the Article.
If you have a subscription to The Times you can read the article here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/scotland/article4533740.ece
The lifeboat that the RNLI executive think they don’t need was called out yet again at 2.00pm today (13th August 2015).
When one member of a group of three kayakers got into trouble behind the harbour wall, the St Abbs lifeboat was there to help in a matter of minutes.
Safely escorted into St Abbs Harbour
The kayak had capsized, and due to the rapidly worsening sea conditions and a freshening south-easterly wind, the kayaker was struggling to get back in his kayak. After a number of failed attempts his strength was fading and he was in danger of being washed onto the rocks.
As soon as they were spotted, the alarm was raised and the St Abbs lifeboat was launched. The lifeboat was on the scene in minutes, by which time his companions had helped him get back on board his craft, but he was utterly exhausted. So the lifeboat escorted the group to the safety of St Abbs harbour.
Read the article in the National Newspaper by clicking here.
St Abbs Lifeboat was called out tonight at 7:55pm (5th August 2015) to go to the aid of a angler in trouble.
The angler was in an inflatable ring with fins and a paddle. As he rounded West Hurkur, at the northern most point of St Abbs Head, he got caught in the strong tidal race which swept him out to sea.
Area where fisherman was recovered.
Fortunately he had a VHF radio with him and was able to contact Aberdeen Coastguard and ask for help. The coastguard dispatch the St Abbs Lifeboat to his rescue.
He was picked up by the Lifeboat drifting out to sea. He was returned to St Abbs harbour with his craft and we’re glad to report he’s fine.
We’d like to share the words of our crewman Graham Slack. Without volunteers like Graham there wouldn’t be an RNLI.
I joined the St Abbs crew not long after I moved up here from Northampton only five years ago. It is said that Northampton is the centre of England and the furthest point from any coastline. With that in mind it would seem unlikely that my family were all seafarers and fishermen, but they were and I am the first generation of my family that has not gone to sea for the past four generations, that is the last four generations that I am aware of there are probably more.
My great grandfather was a fisherman he sailed out of Birkenhead to the fishing grounds off North Wales; he caught mainly white fish in those days, my grandfather worked with him. My father did a seven year apprenticeship as a chef and his first job after qualification was with Cunard on the RMS Queen Elizabeth sailing the Atlantic from Southampton to New York and my uncle was an engineer on the super tankers.
In 1972 when i was still just a small child, I can remember walking in to the living room of our house to see my dad watching the television; he was in floods of tears, at first I was scared, I had never seen my dad cry before. Then I looked at the television. I saw a huge ship on fire with black smoke pouring from it and streams of water arching through the sky from firefighting boats and tugs. My dad told me that this was the Elizabeth, the ship that he had sailed on when I was still a baby, the ship that he had worked and lived on seven days a week, travelled the world and honed the skills of his trade that would support me and the rest of our family for years to come.
The next day the newspapers were full of pictures of the stricken Elizabeth, she lay in Hong Kong harbour a burned out smoking wreck, some say that she was the victim of a suspected arson attack in order to claim insurance, others say it was a political act the result of a dispute between the owner and the communist ship building unions. All I know is that I had never seen my dad cry before and at that age I couldn’t possibly understand his grief, or sense of loss while watching the Elizabeth burn before him. All his memories were going up in smoke his pride of serving on one of the greatest ocean liners ever built was welling up inside him and he just could not control it he was hurt and angry and unable to do anything about it.
The reason that I joined the St Abbs crew was because I thought that in my own small way I could say thank you to all the generations of my family who had gone to sea before me and become a tiny little cog in the machine that saves lives at sea. Of course, I could never handle a boat like Paul or Davey, or have the years of knowledge like Alistair, but I am just as proud to stand at the winch and launch our boat, refuel it and wash it down after she has been to sea, as my father was to serve on the Elizabeth.
Now, my mind goes back 42 years to our little two up two down terraced house, thousands of miles away from the Elizabeth and hundreds of miles away from the nearest coastline. I can remember my father watching his beloved Elizabeth burn before his eyes and after all these years, for the first time ever I can understand exactly how he felt.
Our station is being stolen from under our very noses and it feels like there is nothing more that we can do. So many people have worked tirelessly to fight this battle but the RNLI high up in their ivory tower are standing their ground.
However one thing is for certain, and that is that however they try to justify their decisions, or hide behind their board of trusties and false claims. As the clock ticks away towards the 8th of September, today’s future will soon become tomorrow’s history and we will all be proven right. However the likelihood is as we all know that some poor soul will probably have to lose their life in order for the RNLI to even consider this.
We still have time yet and I know that none of us will stop the fight just because we have a closing date, but let’s take time to remember that however this ends, we can all be very proud of the fact that we have done everything that we possibly could to make the RNLI change their minds.
There is an old saying “The value of the well is not known until it finally runs dry…” very apt I think, perhaps the RNLI executive would like to think this one over.
At 9:47am on the 25th July, The pagers were set off requesting St Abbs Lifeboat to launch. Soon after thethe St Abbs lifeboat was bearing west past Black Carrs and round St Abbs Head, speeding to the aid of a broken down fishing boat nearly 8 miles up the coast in the vicinity of Siccar Point.
12 minutes after leaving harbour the St Abbs Lifeboat was on scene, where a local fishing boat was discovered to have suffered a gearbox failure. The two occupants of the boat were safe and well, they had deployed their anchor to prevent them drifting onto the rocks, but were unable to restart their engine. Eyemouth ALB (All weather Life Boat) was also in the area on exercise, and was also tasked to the scene, but was stood down when it was understood St Abbs were with the vessel, and everything was under control.
A tow was established, and the St Abbs Lifeboat returned the broken down vessel back to St Abbs harbour at a steady 4-5 knots in moderate seas. Once back at St Abbs, the casualty vessel was helped to berth in the old harbour.
The lifeboat then returned to station, refueled, and was ready for service again around 11:30am.
We’d like to thank the British Sub Aqua Club and its member for getting behind the campaign to Save St Abbs Lifeboat. Today the Chairman of BSAC, Eugene Farrell, visited St Abbs and talked with the crew, divers and local people.
Eugene Farrell meets with member our crew
“It is clear to us now that while we will continue to try to work with the RNLI to ensure there is sufficient provision in the area, for our members one less lifeboat station around St Abbs is simply not acceptable.
“I have been to visit the St Abbs Lifeboat Station today to see the facilities and have spoken to divers, lifeboat crew and local people myself to hear their concerns.
“Every minute counts when a diver or other sea-user is in trouble. We must now directly represent our members’ concerns and call for the St Abbs Lifeboat Station to remain open and to provide what is to many, an essential and potentially life-saving service in an area that is very busy in diving terms.” – BSAC Chairman Eugene Farrell
The British Sub Aqua Club (BSAC) is the UK’s leading dive club and the sport’s National Governing Body in the UK. Its support adds more weight to our call for the proposed closure of St Abbs lifeboat station to be overturned.
You can read the BSAC news article here.