A few days ago Simon Raine from HM Coast Guard Kirkcudbright , asked DGWGO if we would like to go along to photograph their open day at Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Station , and Joint Excercise with the Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter 177 from Prestwick !

The Excercise was held today ( Sunday 11th of August) at Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Station, near Torrs point ! I headed down at around 11.00 am , and I’m rather ashamed to admit , even though I’ve lived here most of my life , I had never been to the lifeboat station before!

The current lifeboat Station at Kirkcudbright was built in 1890 to replace the old one, which is now a house just above Tesco’s in the Town . The current lifeboat in use just now is an Altantic 85 RIB style , ( Rigid,inflatable,boat) and has two huge outboard engines giving it 230 hp and a top speed of 35 knots, so it can get to emergencies as fast as possible! The crew were amazing today, and would answer any questions anyone asked, and were most willing to show you around the boat , I spoke to Ian and Rodney and Derek , who are all Helms men and they all said the ‘Sheila Stenhouse’ ( the Kirkcudbright Lifeboats name) is an amazing bit of kit, very manoeuvrable in the water, and very safe , with buoyancy assistance to bring water to what ever part of the boat it’s needed to to help it stay on the water and not bounce upside down, because it is so light and fast! The boat also has a self righting aid , just incase it ever did capsize . The boat was commissioned in 2006 , and can carry a crew of 4 , plus passengers that it rescues! Rodney and Derek both told me it is possible to go out on a call with a crew of 2 if they have to , plus there has to be somebody at the station to winch them in and out of the water! I asked Derek how they go about night time Rescue , he told me they have a really powerful lamp, plus they have night time vision equipment ! But they also use flares that light up a massive area, but if they are working with the helicopter the flares can not be used! There was so much to learn and see today , and I asked so many questions , I can’t remember everything I was told, but one thing I will say is , if you ever get the chance to go to a RNLI open day , you should. It makes you realise just how important such a rescue service is in an area like D&G that has 200 miles of coast line!

The crew are always in training , and the boat is taken out twice a month , plus any calls it gets. Rodney told me , that they are always looking for new volunteers to join the crew, and anyone can be trained up to be a lifeboat person, if they are keen and have good sea legs! Especially if they live and work in the town , so that they can get to call outs as quick as possible! If your interested contact the Lifeboat crew on 01557 330425

Also today speaking to Simon and Alan from HM Coast Guard Kirkcudbright , I learned just how much they do as well, just yesterday they were involved with the very same navy helicopter at the Exercise today, to rescue a young boy who had fallen on the cliffs at Carrick Shore , and broken several bones! The Coast Guard were also heavily involved in helping people during the Snow back in march , and help with inshore rescue at lochs and rivers as well as sea rescue .

Finally I got to meet the Navy Sea King Helicopter crew from 177 Prestwick ! This Machine was awesome , huge when you stand next to it! So much bigger than you can imagine! Everyone was given the chance to have a look inside the Helicopter , and see just how special it was! I spoke to the winch man , who is also a fully qualified paramedic , and he is the one that they drop down into the rescue zones all the time, he said he had been flying for 18 years now , but been in the sea rescue for 11 years! The helicopter pilot ‘Mike’ said he had been flying for 16 years, and he loved the job !

After around 45 minutes on the ground , it was time for the Excercise to take place. Just watching the helicopter take off so closely was amazing , but seeing them work as a team with the lifeboat in Kirkcudbright bay , is an experience I will never forget! It was like something you think you will only ever get to see on telly. To see the teams work together, to lower men on the winch , to pick up people out of the water, to see the flares and smoke , and hear the noise , is something that you can not imagine! These men are real hero’s , and we were lucky enough to see them at work in a controlled situation today, but when it comes down to it , if your ever in trouble at see , these are the people you will need! So next time you see a RNLI donation box , just remember , and maybe slot some change in it!