Kiwi coastguard calls on Scarborough RNLI
Scarborough RNLI gained an insight into the way lives are saved at sea on the other side of the world when a Kiwi coastguard dropped in to say hello.
Greg Thomson, 33, is a crew member with the New Zealand coastguard based at the Marine Rescue Centre in Mechanics Bay, Auckland.
He was on a four-week visit to the UK with his wife Katie and their baby Eva. Katie is from Hornsea and emigrated to New Zealand to work as an intensive-care nurse. They were in Scarborough for a week, staying with family friends.
Greg is one of 130 operational volunteers at his centre on the north island and one of 2,300 volunteers nationally.
Of the country’s 62 coastguard units, Auckland has nine, covering the Hauraki Gulf. Greg’s unit responded to 450 calls for assistance last year, helping 1,342 people.
The unit has three lifeboats named after key sponsors: Lion Foundation Rescue, a 15m foil-assisted catamaran with twin 750hp Scania jets capable of 37 knots and a range of 400 nautical miles; Trillian Rescue Alpha, a 9.5m Naiad inflatable with twin 250hp outboards; and Trillian Trust Rescue, a new 15m mono-hull, propeller-driven Naiad inflatable with twin 750hp Scania engines.
They share part of a marina with the marine police and harbour master.
The lifeboats patrol the intricate coastline, full of inlets and islands, and are contacted by radio when needed.
A typical shout involves towing boats which have broken down or run out of fuel. A big search recently involved several boats and a helicopter when a swimmer was reported missing but was eventually found safe and well.
A key difference between Auckland and Scarborough is that Auckland’s coastguard units are constantly patrolling during the weekend when boating activity is at its highest. They operate a rotating duty-boat roster with other coastguard units during the week. Greg is on a roster for Trillian Rescue Alpha and signs up for a shift of 8-10 hours every three weeks.
'We meet at 9.30am, do our checks then radio in to coastguard operations to advise we are crewed and available for a tasking', Greg says. 'If we are quiet, there are many seaside cafés to drop into for a coffee or even breakfast. If the day is warm enough, a swim is always on the cards'.
Greg works as a transport logistics coordinator, assisting in the management of a large fleet of trucks and dealing with customers.
He is full of admiration for the RNLI and was impressed with Scarborough’s lifeboathouse and lifeboats. 'To me, the RNLI is the epitome of a lifeboat service', he said. 'You go out in the worst weather and handle all sorts of scary situations. I like the way you take great pride in and respect your past and the whole culture of lifesaving'.
* For details, ring Scarborough RNLI press officer Dave Barry on 07890 322992.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.