Further to yesterday

A father described yesterday how he was nearly swept to his death trying to rescue a girl at a beach where a coastguard crew were forbidden from launching their boat.

Lee Dobson, 35, told The Times that he and two other men had been in danger of drowning after going to the aid of a teenage girl swept more than 100 metres out to sea by strong currents.

“I had to leave her because I knew that if I stayed with her there could have been two bodies brought back in rather than potentially one,” he said. “It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make – to leave her and get myself back in.”

He added: “When I left her I was extremely tired but I was torn between trying to still get her in and trying to get myself in. She was screaming at me not to leave her. That will stay with me for a long time.”

The volunteer lifeboat crew at Hope Cove, in South Devon, had been told not to launch their vessel because of concerns over its seaworthiness. They eventually chose to ignore the advice after becoming convinced that the girl was about to drown.

Despite bringing her safely ashore, the crew now face disciplinary action by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) after deciding not to wait while another vessel was dispatched from six miles away.

Hang them, hang them all.

18 comments on “Further to yesterday

  1. “Tags: Bansturbation”

    Erm… so you’re against a ban on (potentially) unseaworthy boats being used by the coastguard?

    Maybe there’s a case for improving regulation (if it’s shown that MCA’s concerns were unwarranted) or funding, but the idea that they’re completely in the wrong simply because the boat managed to rescue the girl (as opposed to sinking and risking more lives) is ridiculous.

    I have a lot of respect for that crew, but if their actions are held up as some sort of shining example then the end result is going to be dead lifeboat volunteers.

  2. Matt M – I think the lifeboat volunteers probably know more about seamanship that the average layman. They know their lives are at stake. If they did not think they had a sea-worthy boat then they wouldn’t set out. Full stop. Or are you one of these nanny-state people who think that the man in Whitehall always knows best?

  3. Matt M- they didn’t just know about their boat, they rebuilt the damn thing themselves because their bosses didn’t get around to it. It just hadnt been signed off.

  4. diogenes1960,

    I think the lifeboat volunteers probably know more about seamanship that the average layman.

    True. But, unless the MCA employs average laymen to assess the condition of lifeboats, completely irrelevant.

    Nor has the case for the expertise of the lifeboat crew been made anywhere. I don’t necessarily dispute it, but it would have more weight if backed up with actual evidence. It seems – and I’m sorry if I’m wrong – to be merely an article of faith trotted out by those already opposed to the idea of legislation.

    Or are you one of these nanny-state people who think that the man in Whitehall always knows best?

    I’m not. I’m quite distrustful of legislation, actually.

    But the fact remains that some kind of oversight is needed to ensure that lifeboat volunteers don’t set out in or with dangerous equipment.

  5. mark,

    they rebuilt the damn thing themselves

    Do you have any links? The only reports I’ve seen say that they paid for the repairs rather than actually doing it themselves.

    PS: I’m against all bans on everything.

    Really?

    Theft? Rape? Beheading?

  6. Matt M the boat was not unseaworthy, it had merely not been checked for seaworthiness since it was fixed. The coastguard guys are perfectly capable of seeing if their boat is seaworthy.

    The MCA has not got round to checking the boat, that’s all.

    Now if your daughter, son, mother or sister were drowning, would you want them to go out in that boat or leave them to die???

    “Erm… so you’re against a ban on (potentially) unseaworthy boats being used by the coastguard?”

    Frankly yes, if they are prepared to go out in a leaky fricking wheelie bin to save someone then good goddamn luck to them.

    I’m totally against bans which stop you from doing ANYTHING which doesn’t harm others. And that includes things like this where you risk yourself and thus some secondary harm to loved ones.

  7. “…the fact remains that some kind of oversight is needed to ensure that lifeboat volunteers don’t set out in or with dangerous equipment.”

    Why would they? They are, after all, all adults.

    Once upon a time, we considered adults to be beholden to themselves and make their own decisions on the spot; now, we wait for someone miles away in possession of the necessary tick sheet to make that decision.

    The Hope Cove crew rightly decided to take back their adulthood from the sticky fingers of Big Nanny. Good for them…!

  8. Zorro,

    The coastguard guys are perfectly capable of seeing if their boat is seaworthy.

    Again, some evidence of this would be nice. Or are we supposed to take it as an article of faith?

    Frankly yes, if they are prepared to go out in a leaky fricking wheelie bin to save someone then good goddamn luck to them.

    So it doesn’t matter if they drown – thereby incurring several deaths instead of one? The MCA has a duty to ensure that the risks are minimised (as far as possible in such a line of work) for the people it’s responsible for. Otherwise it would just be negligent.

    Julia M,

    Why would they? They are, after all, all adults.

    Which doesn’t automatically make them experts.

  9. Ignore my most pertinent question Matt, what would /you/ want them to do were it /your/ loved on about to drown???

    I’ll concede that they /could/ have been hurt. They weren’t and they saved the girl.

    You have already conceded that they /could/ get hurt even if they followed to the letter every health and safety regulation there is. (with your caveat – as far as possible…)

    I would argue that they are far better placed to weigh up the risks to themselves vs the risk to the girl than anyone else. You or the MCA included. My evidence is they were there, you and the MCA were not, and they succeeded.

    “Which doesn’t automatically make them experts.”

    No, they are just the guys at the pointy end. Just the guys who go out on little boats in rough seas on a weekly basis to save people from drowning. What do they know?

  10. “Which doesn’t automatically make them experts.”

    They are lifeboat crewman. I’m thinking (even in the age of ‘diversity’ and the inability to turn down people clearly unsuitable for a job) this indicates they have some knowledge of, errr, boats….

    “The MCA has a duty to ensure that the risks are minimised (as far as possible in such a line of work) for the people it’s responsible for.”

    That duty would be best served by acting to repair and certify the boat with the alacrity it seems they reserved merely for confiscating it after the fact.

  11. It’s about “risk assessments”. The crew are at the sharp end and before every launching they have to carry one out, even if it is a quick one. They, and they alone, are the only ones who can carry out a risk assessment. It is the job of the ir employers to give the the training and skills to carry out the risk assessment.

    In this case the crew assesed the situation and decided that the boat the risk was low.

    There could equally be a situation when they assess the risk too high to go out, even if the boat is certified. In this case no amount of ordering from the centre could make the go.

  12. The coastguard guys are perfectly capable of seeing if their boat is seaworthy.

    Again, some evidence of this would be nice. Or are we supposed to take it as an article of faith?
    —-

    They are adults for god’s sake. They have every goddamn right on god’s green earth to do whatever the hell they want, ESPECIALLY in a life-or-death situation requiring instant decision making. I know what I am talking about because I deal with such situations myself every week. If I found someone dying alone by the side of the road and I just happened to have my resuscitation equipment with me, but it hadn’t been rechecked by some clerk, I would still use it.

    And re rape etc, these are not ‘banned’, they are criminal offenses, as they have been for several thousand years, and with good reason. You seem to have an automatic belief that people “up there” are needed to assess things. They are not. We are human beings with autonomy and we can make judgements ourselves in a crisis.

  13. Zorro,

    At no point have I criticised the lifeboat volunteers, in fact quite the opposite. But that makes no difference to the question of whether MCA regulation should exist or not.

    If the volunteers are adequate trained (by the MCA itself, it seems) in assessing the seaworthiness of a boat then external assessments are largely unnecessary (although there is perhaps a good argument for involving a disinterested third-party to ensure that a desire to get out there doesn’t overshadow objectivity), but no-one has yet provided any evidence in support of this.

    Point to the bravely of these individuals all you like, but it’s largely irrelevant to this issue.

    My evidence is they were there, you and the MCA were not, and they succeeded.

    Then forgive me if I consider your argument somewhat lightweight.

    JuliaM,

    this indicates they have some knowledge of, errr, boats….

    No doubt. “Some knowledge”, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into an ability to accurately assess the condition of such a boat.

    Concerns about its suitability have been raised by the Chief Coastguard himself. No doubt he has “some knowledge” as well.

    Mark,

    They have every goddamn right on god’s green earth to do whatever the hell they want, ESPECIALLY in a life-or-death situation requiring instant decision making.

    They chose to work for the MCA. Choosing to work for any company or body entails accepting (though not always uncritically) its rules and regulations. I’m not arguing against they’re decision, but they have to accept the consequences. The MCA has every right to regulate those in its service and discipline those who fail to adhere to these regulations.

    Those are not private individuals who just happened to be around. They are working (on a voluntary basis) for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

    And re rape etc, these are not ‘banned’, they are criminal offenses

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hair split so thin.

  14. “No doubt. “Some knowledge”, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into an ability to accurately assess the condition of such a boat. “

    Given that they are local people, skilled in the ways of the sea, trained by their organisation and they’d planned to set out in it themselves, I think we can asume they do.

    I agree it’d be different if they were holidaymakers from the Sahara. But they weren’t…

    “Concerns about its suitability have been raised by the Chief Coastguard himself. No doubt he has “some knowledge” as well. “

    Depends. He might have worked his way up from the ranks. Or he might not, and just be a box-ticking management ‘expert’ instead. We don’t know.

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