Sea Survival! Friday saw us return to Plymouth for a 2nd day in the expansive surrounds of the Travelodge. 20 willing (and 1 or 2 not so willing) pupils on this most important of courses.
Tank was instructing (doesn’t he seem to get everywhere?) on the theory, and later, the practical aspects of sea survival. Tank is a member of not 1 but 2 Lifeboat crews (I told you he was everywhere) and had some telling tales for us of local episodes involving boats and ships that got into difficulty. Either by the sheer incompetence of the crew, bad luck, bad weather, bad planning or simply lack of training. Hence the reason for the RBE team’s day in Plymouth.
A morning of theory, anecdotes, equipment demonstrations and videos (thankfully not as gruesome as the First Aid shots) were all in preparation for the afternoon’s dip in the SPLASH! diving pool at Plymouth’s world famous leisure centre. However, we did not spot any paparazzi waiting for us, either before or after our ’10’ rated display of jumping off the 3m board in oversized survival gear and attempting not to land face or back down.
Everyone had to don a full Survival Suit which were large, cumbersome and had a habit of, first, retaining air that made swimming very tricky – think Michelin Man – and then, after some time in the water, replacing the air with water and thereby weighing down the user. Luckily they did not have enough so I, being one of the ‘yachts’, I was allowed to use a t-shirt. Which was a bit of a cheat. I felt a little pang of guilt as I know that some of the others were really struggling. Notably a couple of the young ladies who, very petite, were asked to don a survival suit last worn by a 6′ 6″, 250lb welder off the rigs from the North Sea. Very comical though, particularly the scramble into the liferaft.
That scramble had to be completed unaided. Even with a t-shirt, it takes quite an effort to pull your body up and over the sides of a liferaft particularly when those sides stand some 3 ft high above the water (and inspite of the aid given by a rope ladder hanging below the waterline). Once in, it seemed that the liferaft had almost as much water inside as outside. And when 20 people are inside you are up-close-and personal, movement is difficult and it gets hot and muggy very quickly. Getting to this point, in a heated pool with calm conditions and only after 10minutes swimming around, was tiring indeed.
So, a day at the poolside. The afternoon practical was enormous fun in a very serious context – I most certainly do not want to experience a real-life event of this nature!
Goodnight and Goodbye Plymouth.
The day’s photos are in the Gallery
Day 6 April 11th