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New Year’s Day Swim Photos  Dee Caffari Interview  Hero Awards



Firstly Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to give you a warm welcome to the OnScene magazine, produced by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, or GAFIRS for short. I’m sure you have heard of us before, or even walked past our lifeboat station at Stokes Bay with its red shutters. You may have even seen our lifeboat shooting off into the distance in response to a maritime emergency. I hope that this magazine gives you an insight into what goes on behind those red shutters and how we are determined to continue and develop our service to save lives at sea. We are an independent lifeboat station, out of the 340 lifeboat stations around the UK’s coast, 1 in 6 stations are totally independent of the RNLI. I wonder how many knew that before picking up this magazine? 2012 was an extraordinary year for Great Britain, much of which was down to its volunteers. The peak of which belonged to the 70,000 willing and passionate Games Maker volunteers who contributed their time to make the London 2012 Olympic Games one of the best in history. From volunteering in the spotlight or even for small local charities, it all adds up to become the “Big Society” volunteers are striving for, which I’m sure many of us are proud to be part of. It was also an extraordinary year for us at GAFIRS. Many of our members were awarded medals as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, along with awards from the Royal Lifesaving Society. We also launched our new lifeboat and distributed the first ever GAFIRS issued drysuits to our lifeboat crews. All of these stories and much more are packed into this magazine, I hope you enjoy it. I would like to thank all those who made this magazine possible, from the team behind me to our corporate sponsor. Best wishes in 2013, from all the team at Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service.

SHARE YOUR STORIES AND FOLLOW YOUR LOCAL LIFESAVERS WWW.GAFIRS.ORG.UK /GAFIRS @GAFIRS Editor: Jake Robinson Editorial Team: Ian Wilson, Guy Sitwell, Kirsty Wilson, John Lee, Tom Clark. Photographer: Malcolm Sowdon Station Details: GAFIRS Lifeboat Lane, Stokes Bay, Gosport, PO12 2TR (023) 92 584017 Enquiries: OnScene is published by the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service, a charity registered in England and Wales (265304). This magazine is only made possible through paid advertisements. To advertise in future issues, please contact the editor. © GAFIRS 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part must have the prior consent of the organisation. Registered ISSN publication. ISSN 2052-420X – Web Edition Jake Robinson Editor / Lifeboat Crew

Front Cover: Gosport Lifeboat and Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1



Allies across galaxy

We welcome the record breaking sailing celebrity in for a longanticipated interview.

New Lifeboat The latest in lifeboat technology arrives on station to join the fleet.

Role Reversed

FEATURE: 5 minutes with Dee Caffari

One of our lifeboat crew recalls the morning they became the casualty to help trial new liferaft equipment used by Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104.


Awards for Heroes A shower of awards for members of the service in a year of remarkable honours and medals to commend the work and heroism of voluntary emergency services.

A rare opportunity for crews on exercise


Going over the edge


RESCUES “We are Sinking”

Two lifeboats race to the distress call of a sinking vessel, arriving on scene as the sea swallows the boat.

REGULARS Celebrating awards for local lifeboat heroes FEATURE: Welcome aboard the new Gosport Lifeboat

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New Year’s Day Swim A look back at one of the biggest annual charity events in Gosport as thousands welcome in the new year and spectate as hundreds of people take to the waters of the Solent.


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GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1



Welcome aboard the new Gosport Lifeboat…

The ‘winchman’s view’ of Jim and Mollie Newton from above.


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

FEATURE IN 2012 WE LAUNCHED OUR NEW LIFEBOAT, THE JIM AND MOLLIE NEWTON. BOASTING BETTER SPECIFICATIONS THAN HER PREDECESSOR, WE’RE PROUD TO WELCOME YOU ABOARD THE NEW GOSPORT LIFEBOAT. Designed and fitted out entirely from scratch by our own members, the heart and souls of our volunteers are imprinted into every part of this lifesaving vessel. Replacing her 21 year old predecessor, which attended more than 3600 incidents in her lifetime, the new lifeboat will be significantly better. Her speed,

ELECTRONICS Gosport Lifeboat is fitted with the latest technology, extending her capabilities, which will cut the time it takes to arrive to casualties. She holds the latest in radar and navigation technology: Raymarine C90 W chart plotter with radar and sonar interface, kindly donated by Raymarine. A new addition is the Rhotheta RT300 VHF Direction Finding device, which boasts the ability to direct the coxswain straight to someone transmitting on a marine radio. This device comes into its own during fog when locating a vessel lost at sea, or during busy events such as Cowes Week where there can be hundreds of boats in a confined space. DUAL-CONSOLE Gosport Lifeboat is wider, which allows seating for two at the console. Her predecessor was built to surround only the coxswain with the controls and electronics. The new design allows one of the lifeboat crew to be dedicated to navigation and communications, letting the coxswain focus on helming the lifeboat to its destination quicker. As part of the duties of the navigator, they will manage all the on-board systems such as the chart plotter, radar, VHF DSC radios, engine management system and others electronics such as navigation lights, siren and direction finding equipment. ENGINE The engine bay, which has access hatches from above and behind, holds two Iveco 8061 diesel inboard engines, turbo charged 6-cylinder inline. This, compared to the previous lifeboat which only had one engine, will increase the vessel’s speed and provides redundancy in case of engine failure whilst at sea. PROPULSION No propellers here - the engine power is delivered through twin Castoldi TD238 waterjets. This provides significantly increased manoeuvrability, both at top speed and especially at slow speed as the design allows the lifeboat to turn on in its own length. Waterjets are perfect for an inshore lifeboat as they are protected within the hull, allowing the coxswain to enter shallower waters. As there are no exposed rotating propellers there is no risk to a casualty in the water.

seaworthiness and reliability will undoubtedly bring a new level of security to all those who use the local waters for leisure or to earn a living at sea. More importantly, our new lifeboat will offer greater protection and capability to our lifeboat crews as they endeavour to save lives at sea.

SNAPSHOT Views from onboard the new lifeboat…

CONSOLE: All within easy reach of the crew

ENGINE: Twin Iveco’s housed in their engine bay

STERN: Large working area for crew and winchman


Q: Where does the new name come from? A: The cost of purchasing and fitting out a new lifeboat is an enormous financial commitment for any charity. With the cost running into the hundreds of thousands, generating the funds could take a decade under normal circumstances. This is where we rely on the support of people through generous donations and legacies. When the charity initially set out a plan for the next operational lifeboat to replace her

Q: How will this improve the service?

aging predecessor, we were approached by the solicitor of the Newton family who advised that a substantial bequest had been left to GAFIRS. It was given to us because Jim Newton wanted to leave a lasting legacy for the local community. With this, the bequest was put into the building of the boat and we proudly named the new lifeboat after the late Jim, and his wife, Mollie Newton.

A: The main advantages are her increased top speed. The old David Brading Lifeboat could reach a maximum of 32 knots at full speed with a flat calm sea. However the

Jim and Mollie Newton reached an astonishing 45 knots during her sea trials. This means we can reach casualties quicker, as every second counts in an emergency.

Q: What’s her size compared to the old vessel? A: During the design stages, we specified that we would increase the vessel’s size. The main advantage to this is the lifeboat now had a working platform at the stern, allowing crews more room to prepare

tows, extract casualties from the water and provides a large area for a Coastguard Helicopter Winchmen to land safely on. Therefore the new lifeboat is 2.5 metres longer, making her 10 metres in length.

Everyone is delighted with the new lifeboat which, with its increased sea-keeping qualities, speed and size, will afford much better protection to our crews whenever they are on a rescue mission to save lives at sea


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

Peter Brown Coxswain


The 21st April 2012 was a big milestone, not only for the charity, but also for the Solent’s marine lifesaving services. With music from the Gosport Solent Brass Band, dozens of supporters and members of the public turned out along with more than 40 members of GAFIRS and 100 invited guests to watch the official launch of the new Jim and Mollie Newton lifeboat.

The lifeboat blessing was led by the Rev. Phil Hiscock of St. Mary’s Church, Alverstoke as well as Rev. Ted Goodyer who has since retired. Our previous chairman Peter Brown conducted the ceremony alongside the charity’s patron Dee Caffari RNR MBE who named the boat traditionally with a spray of champagne over the bow. The dedication was followed by a parade of the Gosport Lifeboat

fleet and a demonstration of the boat’s capabilities at sea. Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104, based at Daedalus, was also on hand to demonstrate winching a crewman onto the lifeboat and off again, much to the delight to the crowd of spectators gathered on the beach front. There was also a display from the GAFIRS youth section Canoe Lifeguard Unit demonstrating rescue techniques.


GAFIRS LIFEBOAT LOTTO There is an easy way to regularly support your local cause and get a weekly chance to win real cash - It’s the GAFIRS Lifeboat Lotto. All prizes are tax-free and are automatically paid to you when you win. Plus, if no one wins the top rollover jackpot prize of £5,000 we keep drawing until someone wins!

Visit our website for more information and sign up for this lifesaving lotto

Even better news, compared to the National Lottery, we pay out twice as much for matching 3 numbers, and up to 99 times MORE for matching 4 numbers.



In other maritime rescue news‌

On day 58 of the Olympic torch the harbour to Portsmouth via the Gosport Ferry. relay, spirits were high on the GAFIRS were a formal part of south coast as torchbearers OLYMPIC CELEBRATIONS IN GOSPORT the arrangements with the Queens brought the Olympic flame to Harbour Master and provided Gosport. The route welcomed thousands of local residents to see safety cover during the relay across the harbour, as well as it being paraded through the giving the crew a brilliant view. streets, and then passing it over

SANTA JOINS FORCES WITH GAFIRS ON CHRISTMAS PARADE Volunteers from GAFIRS SANTAupJOINS FORCES partnered with Santa to prepare for Christmas, whilst CHRISTMAS PARADE raising funds for new lifeboat crew personal protective equipment. Lifeboat crew, fundraisers and Santa Claus braved the chilly winter weather to tow their Inshore Lifeboat RIB (Gosport ILB) through Lee-on-Solent and Gosport, talking to members of the public, who kindly popped their spare change in the pot to help continue the lifesaving service. The Mayor of Gosport Councillor Richard Dickson officially opened the event at 11am and walked the first mile with the team through Lee-on-Solent with the crew from Gosport Fire Station, which works closely with GAFIRS, joining the team for the first hour.


Fundraising secretary Joyce Thomas "Father ON Christmas WITH said: GAFIRS came along with us and the children we passed absolutely loved it. They were running up to us, asking to put money in the collection buckets. We stopped off at lots of places along the way and everywhere we went we received a warm welcome. It was the first time we've ever done anything like this and we were not quite sure what to expect but it was great." The route, which took four hours to cover, began at HM Solent Coastguard and went through many streets finishing back at the GAFIRS Lifeboat Station at Stokes Bay. They stopped in to say hello at several of the local pubs and to also say thank you to local supporters.

Volunteers from GAFIRS partnered up with Santa to prepare for Christmas, whilst raising funds for new lifeboat crew personal protective equipment. Lifeboat crew, fundraisers and Santa Claus braved the chilly winter weather to tow their Inshore Lifeboat RIB (Gosport ILB) through Lee-on-Solent and Gosport, talking to members of the public, who kindly popped their spare change GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1 in the pot to help continue the lifesaving service. The Mayor of Gosport

In January, a baby boy was rescued by a fishermen and a marina dock master after his pushchair was blown into the water by a gust of wind. The six-month-old was swept into the water at Watchet Harbour, Somerset, on a Sunday morning. Avon and Somerset Police said he was airlifted to hospital for treatment. A force spokesman said the condition of the baby was no longer believed to be life-threatening. Marina Dock Master, George Reeder said: "The mother was there and she said 'my baby has gone in the water', so I went to the edge and I could see the pushchair upside down, floating away. "I just jumped in and pulled the pushchair back over to the edge of the quay and somebody put a rope down and I tied it on and they lifted it out.� Police officers who waded into the sea at Weston-super-Mare to save a couple have been awarded for their bravery. PC Darren Bond responded to a 999 call on 10th November 2012. When on scene he could hear a man and a woman's voice coming from the water. After contacting HM Coastguard he waded 100 metres into the sea and prevented the intoxicated woman from going further out until his colleagues Thomas Kettleborough and Nigel Prideaux arrived on scene and helped to drag the woman back to shore. PC Bond and Special Constable Kettleborough received commendations from the Royal Lifesaving Society for their actions. The Royal Lifesaving Society described their actions as "exemplary as the founding ideals of the society and worthy of commendation."


ROUND THE WORLD CLIPPER VENTURE SAILORS GIVE A HELPING HAND Donations to GAFIRS come from many quarters and are all graciously received. Every now and again comes a special donation, from a rather special source, as Ian Conchie, skipper of the "Qingdao" writes: "Racing around the world as the skipper of 'Qingdao' in the Clipper Round the World Race has taught both myself and the crew many lessons in terms of sailing and seamanship and re-enforced the importance of safety all the times on the water. For most of the race we didn't have the benefit of the support of rescue services like those provided by GAFIRS. We found ourselves twice in the unfortunate position of having injured crew onboard and having to divert from the race to medivac the patients, how we would have loved a service like GAFIRS at the time!

So when we decided to raffle and auction off some items at the end of the race, GAFIRS were an obvious choice to allow us as a crew to give something back to the Gosport area where we completed

all our training and race preparation." As a result of the raffle and auction, ÂŁ425 was donated to GAFIRS and will be used to fund new portable emergency radio equipment for lifeguards and lifeboat crews.

OnScene Magazine is sponsored by‌




GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

2013 2013

Fearless bathers took to the chilly waters of the Solent at the annual GAFIRS New Year's Day Swim on Tuesday 1st January 2013. With over 2,500 onlookers lining the beach of Stokes Bay, 300 swimmers took to the waters at noon to raise money for over 30 different charities and causes. This traditional event, which has been popular for many years is normally started by the Mayor of Gosport, but this year the Mayoress started it as the Mayor when in the water himself! The weather couldn't have been better, with clear blue skys and a modest sea temperature of 8°C some swimmers only stayed in for a moment. However others stayed in to play a game of water polo, whilst some swam out to the nearby navigation buoy off the lifeboat station with support from our canoe lifeguard unit.

The crowds provided a great atmosphere with cheering and applause as the swim began. Thousands of pounds were raised for good causes, GAFIRS, who organise the event raised ÂŁ2,400 on the day with more donations to come from fellow supporters who are collecting sponsorship from family and friends. Many of the swimmers were locals from the Gosport and Fareham areas, however one had travelled all the way from Denmark to take part with her friend. Afterwards, hot showers were provided by the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. Hot drinks and changing facilities were also provided in the Lifeboat Station.


VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY SERVICE HEROS AWARDED MEDAL FOR DIAMOND JUBILEE In 2012, the country celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Simultaneously lifesavers all across the the United Kingdom celebrated as they were bestowed with a medal for their long service as volunteers to the emergency services. So on the 8th of August 2012, 25 operational volunteers from GAFIRS were presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at the Civic Offices in Fareham. The presentation of medals was made by the Presidents of the charity, The Mayor of Gosport and The Mayor of Fareham. GAFIRS Patron Dee Caffari was also there to present the medals to those who has received the decoration. A range of crews were amoung those to receive the medal, ranging from operational shore side crews to those who are frontline lifeboat coxswains. Two Lifeboat coxswains, Mike Allen & Chris Rudd have both been involved with the charity for 35 years, Mike Allen joined only two months before the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in

1977 and has been crewing the lifeboats operated by GAFIRS for 34 years. In a public statement last year, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, said: “It is right that we reward those people who, like The Queen, also dedicate their lives to the public good and who represent the very best of the British spirit.” "I hope the official medal will serve as a mark of thanks to all those who give so much in the name of society and public service, and I extend my congratulations to all the recipients." The medal was awarded to members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, operational members of HM Prison Service, members of the Royal Household and emergency services personnel (including Police Community Support Officers) who have been in paid service, retained or in a voluntary capacity, and who had completed five full calendar years of service on 6th February 2012.

Members awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Keith Thomas Stuart Newall Joyce Thomas Chris Newbrook Dave Fry Steve Ray Paul Goulder Colin Davey Guy Sitwell Steve Hobbs Brian Pack Mike Allen Bob Needham Ian Wilson Chris Rudd Peter Brown Dave Balcombe Keith Last Kevin Newman Jill Smith Stuart Martyn

A GREAT ACCOLADE FOR MEMBERS IN HERO OF THE YEAR AWARD The county magazine ‘Hampshire’ held its annual award ceremony in April 2012 at the Royal Marines Museum, Portsmouth. The grand backdrop to these popular awards made for a special evening when GAFIRS were awarded Emergency Services Hero of the Year. Our Fundriaising Officer, Joyce Thomas and then Chairman, Peter Brown, represented the service at the awards evening and sat amongst Dukes and Duchesses, ex-servicemen, recipients of the MBE, and ex-Saints boss Laurie McMenemy (who won the Hampshire Lifetime Achievment Award.) Guests were wined and dined before the winners from 12 categories were announced. Among the winners were some inspirational stories and famous names, along with standing ovations for all of the Armed Forces Heroes. Peter Brown said: “Just to be nominated for such an award is credit enough, to actually win it is a great accolade for everyone.” The county magazine ‘Hampshire’ held its annual award ceremony in April 2012 at the Royal Marine Museum, Portsmouth. GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1 14 The grand backdrop to these popular awards made for a special evening when GAFIRS were awarded Emergency Services Hero of

AWARDS & THANKS AWARDS & THANKS Where we acknowledge just some of the many supporters of GAFIRS who help keep our lifeboats afloat.

THE FIVE ALLS PUB Run by landlord Steve, The Five Alls has been a long term supporter of GAFIRS work, along with other local charities. Throughout the year the staff and patrons hold events, and always raise money at every opportunity. One notable event is their unwanted Christmas present auction.

ROYAL NAVY AMATEUR SWIMMING ASSOCIATION (RNASA) The Royal Navy has a long history of involvement in competitive swimming, as well as raising money for charity. This year, money was raised through an open water swim where 25 swimmers crossed the bitterly cold waters of the Solent.

SAN DIEGO ROAD CO-OPERATIVE AND THE FOX PUB Through their fundraising efforts, which included running children’s fundraising events, quizzes and asking customers to donate their spare change, this branch of the Co-op and The Fox raised enough funds to purcahse £1,000 worth of brand new specialist tools required to maintain the fleet of lifeboats and rescue vehicles.

CASTLE IN THE AIR There’s a big chance you’ll be getting wet if you support GAFIRS through Castle in the Air, because they hold the annual raft race! Between five and a dozen amateur teams build and race their own rafts. This has always been a big fundraising event for the charity and many members join in the fun, whilst also providing the safety cover for the rafts which may sink.

STOKE ROAD SNOOKER CLUB Another supporter of local charities with the community at heart. They support charities through novel fundraising ideas and snooker competitions. In 2012 they decided to support GAFIRS. So in September, members were invited to a social evening, not only to recieve a cheque for £2,233 but for a couple of friendly games against the snooker club. Mr Dave Norman, owner of Stoke Road Snooker Club, thanked everyone who contributed to ‘an excellent charity.’


Two lifeboats race to the distress call of a sinking vessel, arriving on scene moments before the sea swallows the trawler.

boarded the boat and prepared the two crew to abandon ship. After the first person was transferred to the safety of the lifeboat the trawler's engine failed leaving the vessel adrift and unstable in the three metre swell. The lifeboat managed to secure the second casualty but was pushed away by the swell before the volunteer crewman was able to jump clear. The fishing boat then completely submerged leaving one of the RNLI crewmen behind it, who was then picked up by Gosport Lifeboat before Portsmouth Lifeboat rushed the two fishermen back to the boathouse. Gosport Lifeboat remained on scene to collect floating debris from the fishing trawler and to mark the wreck's position with an emergency wreckage buoy.

Pictures: RNLI Helmet Camera

On a very bitter April afternoon, the routine duty day of both Portsmouth Lifeboat and Gosport Lifeboat changed in moments when the MAYDAY call from a trawler was broadcast over the maritime distress channel (Ch.16.) The fishing trawler reported that it was taking on water two miles south of Langstone Harbour and required immediate assistance. At the time of the emergency broadcast Gosport Lifeboat was at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and proceeded immediately to the vessel, Portsmouth Lifeboat also launched and raced to the trawler, arriving on scene in a matter of minutes. The waterline at the stern of the vessel was very close to the water, and it was obvious that it was close to sinking. Therefore Portsmouth Lifeboat helmsman Pete Slidel

Location of MAYDAY call

GAFIRS crewman Paul Goulder raised ÂŁ300 to provide more vital equipment for the rescue service by completing the Great South Run last year. The generous donation was used to purchase two sets of "Mudders" which are a cleverly designed overshoe enabling crew to walk on top of the deep mud that fills much of the coastline around Gosport and Fareham at low tide. Inspired by the Great Blue Heron, the Mudders mimic how nature overcomes the difficulties of travelling across mud. Expanding with each step, the user's weight is spread over a large area to prevent


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

sinking. Then, as the user lifts their foot, the Mudder contracts, minimising the suction that would otherwise hinder progress. Many of GAFIRS’ taskings involve reaching casualties who are immobilised in mud and the new footwear will greatly improve efficiency and safety in such cases. Paul has completed the 10 mile run every year since 1990, and since joining GAFIRS, 7 years ago, has done so to raise funds for the independent lifeboat station. Last year he completed the event in a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and came 5252 out of 23000.

NEWS AWARDS & THANKS BRILLIANT DISPLAY AND BIG CROWDS AT BLUE LIGHT SERVICES DAY In June 2012, GAFIRS held its annual Lifeboat and Blue Light Services Day. With a huge turnout from many of the frontline and specialist 999 services, units were on display from the South Central Ambulance Service, Fareham Community Responders, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Hampshire Constabulary, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team as well as the full fleet of GAFIRS lifeboats, inshore rescue vehicles and equipment. Each unit brought a unique educational and entertaining element to the event. Described as a “proper boys toy,” members of the public were invited (under strict supervision) to control a real operational Royal Navy bomb disposal robot shown right. All units were put into “battle stations” as the Storm Troopers of the 501st Legion were also on parade adding a distinct element to the event. All these attractions help build a reputation for a great free day out for the family, whilst giving the local community a great opportunity to meet the people behind the blue lights and sirens. OnScene Magazine is sponsored by…



Manager / Sea Safety Liaison Teacher / Lifeboat Crew

Manager / Sea Safety Liaison

Teacher / Lifeboat Crew

Yacht Rigger / Lifeboat Crew Yacht Rigger / Lifeboat Crew

Air Traffic Controller / Lifeboat Crew Air Traffic Controller / Lifeboat Crew

Student / Trainee Lifeguard Student / Trainee Lifeguard

Shop Manager / Fundraiser Shop Manager / Fundraiser Technician / Bridge Watch Officer


Technician / Bridge Watch Officer- Issue 1 GAFIRS OnScene Magazine

Fire Fighter / Lifeboat Crew Fire Fighter / Lifeboat Crew

Housewife / Fundraising Team Retired / Fundraising Team

Company Director / Maintenance Team

Ambulance Paramedic / Medical Team

Company Director / Maintenance Team

Ambulance Paramedic / Medical Team

Kitchen Fitter / Crew Trainer Kitchen Fitter / Crew Trainer

Consultant / Management Committee Consultant / Management Committee

Web Designer / Coxswain Web Designer / Coxswain

Electrician / Shore Crew Electrician / Shore Crew

This lifesaving service is run by people like you. Do you have the exceptional determination and motivation we are looking for? Join the team and become part of something remarkable. Apply online:


5 minutes with…

Dee Caffari RNR MBE and Sailing Legend 5 minutes with… Dee Caffari

RNR MBE and Sailing Legend

You were once a secondary school teacher, what did you enjoy about this job and what ultimately led to such a change of direction in your career? I loved my time as a teacher. I was fortunate to be a Physical Education Teacher so even the children that are considered ‘bad’ kids are not too bad in PE. I enjoyed seeing the development of the age group from children to young adults. For me it was the right job too soon and I still wanted to travel and have adventures. I was also in a position of not having any ties, financial or personal, so it was a good time to try a change of career. Did you always have an interest in sailing? My interest was in all sports and adventurous activities. Sailing was only sparked as an interest when I tried it at university. I loved the way you have to harness the power of nature, something beyond your control, to make it work for you. I also realised that sailing gave you a great way to travel and see so much more of the world. Little did I know I would spend most of my time sailing past everywhere!


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Did you always think you were going to attempt the many challenges you have? I had no idea I would go on and achieve the things I have. I am always up for a challenge and do not like to be beaten. In fact I thrive if I have something to aim for. In 2004 as the only female skipper in the fleet (Global Challenge Race) did you feel as if your gender was ever an issue? Were there any added complications? I enjoyed being the only female skipper. I see it as a good position to be in. I always got kisses from the boys and I was accepted as one of the boys right from the very beginning. We had fun and I made some lifelong friends during the race. In 2012 how did it feel to compete in Sail Arabia with the first ever Arab women to sail offshore? These Omani girls have been amazing. They are really making ground breaking steps to change the way their culture and tradition think. They have really impressed me with their commitment to succeed and get better and prove people wrong. It has been a steep learning curve for me too and I have loved learning about another culture that is depicted in a very certain way in the media, which is often quite different in reality.


What has been your biggest challenge to date both with regards to personal, and professional feats? As is always the case and getting harder each year, is raising the sponsorship to make these amazing challenges happen. I love the fact that quite often what I do can support the local community, inspire future generations and give a sense of achievement to women worldwide. But I need to secure further funding for these actions to continue. What is your next challenge if any? If I am successful I hope I will be racing around the world again. I would like to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race. What would you say to any young person wishing to follow in your footsteps? Think carefully about opportunities that are presented to you. Life is about seizing opportunities as they arise. The hardest decision is deciding which opportunities to take and which to let pass you by. You will be amazed as to what doors can be opened depending on what you have done or who you have met. Which of your achievements if any are you most proud of? I loved racing in the Vendee Globe as I believed that really put me on the map as a professional sailor. However my favourite sailing experience has been the Round Britain and Ireland Speed Record that I completed in 2009 with a team of four girls. As far as making a difference and a sense of achievement, seeing the Omani girls develop in their sailing has been amazing. In one year I increased my crew from two to a 50% Omani crew and we still managed to race competitively. I was very proud. Were there any challenges you didn’t think you would complete? Why? I never accept defeat, and feel cheated if I do not succeed at the level I want. I ran the London Marathon

in 2007 and was very disappointed with my time so for me, even now it is unfinished business. How do you find the strength of mind to carry out your voyages? So many people support me on my adventures, and help make the challenges happen, that I do not want to let them down. I want to make people proud and I want to feel satisfied that I gave it my all, so I get my head down and try my hardest. What do you do in your down time? I spend time with my dog, Jack, an English springer spaniel and my partner Harry.

You were once a secondary school teacher, what did you enjoy about this job and what ultimately led to such a change of direction in your career? I loved my time as a teacher. I was fortunate to be a Physical Education Teacher so even the children that are considered ‘bad’ kids are not too bad in PE. I enjoyed seeing the development of the age group from children to young adults. For me it was the right job too soon and I still wanted to travel and have adventures. I was also in a position of not having any ties, financial or personal, so it was a good time to try a change of career. Did you always have an interest in sailing? My interest was in all sports and adventurous activities. Sailing was only sparked as an interest when I tried it at University. I loved the way you have to harness the power of nature, something beyond your control, to make it work for you. I also realised that sailing gave you a great way to travel and see so much more of the world. Little did I know I would spend most of my time sailing past everywhere! Did you always think you were going to attempt the many challenges you have? 21 I had no idea I would go on and achieve the things I have. I am always up for a challenge and do not like to


Everyone who commits to supporting charity work through their own sponsored event has different motives. Many do it for the personal challenge and the accomplishment, some do it for the adrenaline rush, and others do it just because the charity is close to their hearts. However this year two of our daring members did it for all these reasons.

So on a cold breezy day in May, Chris Newbrook and Mary Rogers decided to step off the side of the Spinnaker Tower and abseil down the side. With one not so keen on, and the other terrified of heights, this was no easy task for our nervous contenders. OnScene spoke to Chris and Mary and asked them about their abseil.

REACHING DIZZY HEIGHTS How did you feel in the days leading up to the abseil? Mary: I kept putting it to the back of my mind, as I knew I would get worked up about doing it, especially when on the ferry one day I looked at the tower and realised how big it was. Describe how you felt as you stepped out onto the platform? Chris: I did feel nervous when I stepped out, as it’s a small ledge, but it was too late to turn back and I needed to do it myself to show I could. Was there a point where you started to panic? Chris: When I let my weight be taken by the rope. Describe the relief as you stepped back on Terra-Ferma? Mary: I was buzzing and wanted to go straight back up and do it again, it was over all too quickly, I drove my kids mad for the rest of the day as I was on such an adrenaline high. Would you ever do something like that again? Chris: Never. Mary: Yes, bring it on - nothing to do with flying though... Was there a specific memorable moment in the abseil? Chris: Beautiful sight, freezing cold and my daughters 4th birthday. Mary: The funniest for me was when I shouted down “does my bum look big in this” and a chorus shouted up in unison “YES!” That was hilarious, and with great support from family, friends and GAFIRS, it was good to see the boat crew there.


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

Not only have our members been abseiling down the outside of the Spinnaker Tower, they have been running up it as well, all in aid of their chosen charity GAFIRS. The event ‘Storm the Tower’ was run by the company Naked Fundraising Ltd who invited people to run up the internal staircase of the Tower, and fundraise for one of the 23 selected charities. Four of our crew, Paul Goulder, Andy Barber, Pete Byford and Jake Robinson raised just over £500 for the charity in sponsorship when on the 28th February 2013, they ran up the 540 stairs. Finishing times ranged between 3 minutes and 14 minutes. The fastest team member in the GAFIRS supporters was Pete Byford, who finished in 15th place out of the 81 people who participated.



coxswains were given the opportunity GAFIRS next big mission - to Whoever you ask within the to sample what was available. After DESIGNED BY GAFIRS FOR GAFIRS produce and fund the first GAFIRS primary or voluntary emergency much testing and discussion, one specification dry suit. services, whether they are THIS IS YOUR LOCAL LIFEBOAT CREWS NEW PROTECTION AT SEA The first stage was to investigate supplier was nominated. Ambulance Crew or Fire Fighter to Northern Divers stood out as the the wide variety of dry suits already in Mountain Rescue teams or supplier whose dry suits provided the use by the crew and highlight the Coastguard Rescue Officers, the endurance, comfort and correct fit issues with them. The feedback equipment they rely on to get the job which the crews had been looking for. showed the primary complaint was done whilst protecting themselves is GAFIRS produced a list of the majority of dry suits were built for their PPE, or Personal Protective specifications which the final product leisure use and not robust enough to Equipment. To a Lifeboat Crew the would have to conform to. deal with the demands of the job, one thing they trust to defend them A representative from Northern leading to tears at seals between the from the elements is their dry suit. Divers came to visit the crew at suit and latex socks, leaks in the zip For the past 40 years our crews Gosport Lifeboat Station. He went and degraded neck seals. have not only given their time but through the final proposed design After consultation with several their money to the service by funding which was officially approved. The suppliers, three came forward to their own dry suits. room went quiet when the measuring produce their brands of dry suits they With most of the team’s dry suits tape came out and each individual was believe would overcome the reaching the end of service, in late asked to be measured up, but this led limitations identified, these were 2011 one of our crew and newly taken to a lifeboat operations meeting to crews receiving the perfect fit for qualified coxswains, Pete Byford, their made to measure rescue dry suit. where more than 15 crew and 3 became the project leader for

SNAPSHOT An overview of the new GAFIRS Lifeboat Crew Drysuit plus equipment…





GECKO HELMET A vital piece of equipment for all crew to protect themselves from injury as well as the elements at sea. Includes a visor and head torch to keep crews hand free when working. ICOM VHF HANDHELD RADIO Maintaining communications with the team is vital, especially when working away from the lifeboat on board a casualty vessel. CREWSAVER 275N LIFEJACKET Another essential piece of Personal Protective Equipment for any mariner or rescue worker near the water. Manual inflation to allow crews to work in the water.



SUPER STRETCH 5mm GLOVES For better grip and to keep hands warm in bitter conditions at sea.




“ “


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1


As boatcrew, Joe Wallington and I had been chosen to be the casualties in today’s exercise. We bobbed about in Gosport ILB while waiting for the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104 to arrive. A sudden huge noise, downwash, the drop of a heavy capsule, the yank of its rope and lo and behold, an inflated life raft erupted from apparently nowhere, and delicately perched itself upon the wave peaks. Once the rope had been cast off from 104 we were able to go alongside the raft so that Joe and I could climb on and take up our roles as ‘distressed mariners’. This small circular life raft, though excellently designed for purpose, felt little more than a child’s paddling pool, isolated, and at the mercy of the elements. The helicopter returned to rescue us taking a wide sweep of the area en route in order to establish its routine search pattern. The winchman descended on his wire, and we pulled in the short rope to guide him into the raft. A brief greeting and explanation, and Joe was whisked up into the sky. The empty strop returned for me to put over my shoulders, and then I was away too. Arms held tightly to my body, I felt the traction through each individual vertebrae as my body stretched with height. There was a wonderful view, an immense roar of rotor noise, the buffeting wind in my face, creating a surreal moment of splendour. All too soon this was interrupted by a firm yank backwards, and I was being pulled through the doorway of the helicopter. The winch operator gestured to ‘sit there’ next to Joe, and ‘buckle up’ while he prepared for the next manoeuvre. He watched while his colleague transferred to Gosport Lifeboat in readiness to receive us, and then, one by one we descended on the wire to our ‘mother-boat’, and further, on to the ILB alongside her. As the wire took him from the high speed lifeboat, the winchman signalled that the exercise was complete. He was retrieved safely, and 104 then veered sharply away from us, bidding farewell on the radio. We returned to our boathouse with the life raft in tow. Here it was washed and deflated, and taken by road back to the Coastguard aircraft hangar for them to re-pack it into capsule form once more. We had a brief exchange of pleasantries (since we were now able to hear each other!) The value of such exercises was confirmed to be of mutual benefit, and an excellent training environment.

” ”

Alice Morris Lifeboat Crew



Chris speaking to our Senior Coxswain at the console

Chris deploying a smoke flare

NATIONAL COVERAGE FOR INDEPENDENT LIFEBOAT STATION Real Rescues is one of the BBC’s documentaries that follows the dramatic events from the day-today work of the emergency services. In the programme they don’t just follow the four main emergency services, they also follow the work of the specialist emergency services such as lifeboats, mountain rescue, air ambulance and the fire services specialist rescue units. In 2012 HM Coastguard was approached by Real Rescues and was asked if they would like to


GAFIRS OnScene Magazine - Issue 1

demonstrate their equipment, capabilities and rescue techniques in a slot on their show. The Coastguard were delighted to help, but came to GAFIRS and asked if the service would participate, and they said yes! So on a cold summer’s afternoon Chris Hollins and a film crew came to Gosport Lifeboat Station where a safety briefing took place, they were then aboard the new Jim and Mollie Newton lifeboat and launched from the station. Once out at sea Chris interviewed our Senior Coxswain. Shortly after Chris became a ‘casualty’ and left the safety of the lifeboat, for the waters of the Solent. From here he

deployed a handheld smoke flare, after a few moments, which felt like a very ‘lonely hour’ the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104 flew in from the horizon to the location of the smoke. Next, a ‘wet winch’ was performed: this is where the helicopter winchman descends into the water with the casualty, fits a strop under their armpits and attaches them to the winch cable. Just like Alice from our feature article earlier, they are then hoisted into the air to marvel the beautiful views of the Solent as they ascend towards the helicopter.

NEWS AWARDS & THANKS A consolidated operational report showing incident statistics from last year, type of callouts and types of vessel attended

Looking at the number of incidents, it would appear that 2012 was the quietest year for some time. The poor weather over the summer was probably the major factor as people would avoid going to sea altogether. This drop in callouts has been seen across many of the local lifeboat stations. That said, a count of leisure craft entering and leaving Portsmouth

Harbour conducted by the National Coastwatch (NCI) between 0900 and 1700 over a 15 day period revealed the following entering or leaving the harbour: 4599 yachts 1937 motor vessels 1016 ribs 41 jet skis 23 canoes

The chart below shows the distribution and times of callouts during the year. A - Daytime when station is manned and a full crew are on duty at station B - Daytime when station is unmanned and crews are on pager callout C - Night-time when station is unmanned and crews are on pager callout *Daytime = 0800 - 1800hrs Night-time = 1800 - 0800hrs

Total Callouts 84 in 2012

 15% on 2011

Engine Failure


Canoe in Difficulty


Person in Water



Number of Callouts


Medical Ashore



10 8 6

Medical Afloat



2 0

Vessel Aground

4 A



Of the applicable callouts, the types of casualty are displayed below

Canoe/Kayak 6% Windsurfer 11%

Windsurfer in Difficulty


Fouled Propeller Motor vessel 29%


Vessel Sinking


Person 22% Yacht/Dinghy 32%

Other ◊


◊ Includes Collision, Dismasting, Gear Failure, Fire, Adrift, Capsize, Swimmer in Difficulty






GAFIRS OnScene Magazine. Issue 1 / 2013  

Support Your Local Independent Lifeboat. This magazine is an annual publication which focuses on the work of the charity, as well as lookin...

GAFIRS OnScene Magazine. Issue 1 / 2013  

Support Your Local Independent Lifeboat. This magazine is an annual publication which focuses on the work of the charity, as well as lookin...