I am being talked about!
I am a relative newcomer to Coastwatch but I seem to be building
a reputation by being at the centre of several incidents at
When I say ‘incidents’ I don’t mean that I
go around breaking windows and suchlike, it just seems that
when people decide to get into difficulties I happen to be on
duty. Is it that they feel so reassured and safe that they tend
to drop their guard a little?
And that is all it takes.
Seasoned watchkeepers with a clean record either boast or bewail
that nothing has ever happened on their watch – and then
they get partnered with me and their duck is shattered. There
was Tony who had an unblemished record until he was drawn in
Ted’s ‘Lottery of Life’ to partner me (Ted
does the roster – stand up and take a bow Ted!). Anyway
on that occasion our peaceful watch was to be disturbed by an
individual who carried to us a suspected unexploded bomb that
he had found on the island.
Tony now has an interesting story to tell and we always exchange
a smile and a giggle when we meet.
It had been quiet on that front for some weeks and then along
came a social gathering where I was reminded of this magnetism
that I seemed to have, trouble tended to find me attractive.
I was also reminded that I have long been secretly referred
to as “Jonah”.
Today was not meant to be exciting, the causeway was closed
for the whole period of our watch so what could possibly go
wrong? Joan and I turned up at 9.45 and did all the preparatory
things like raise the flag, switch the radios on and fill the
dog bowls with water, we settled down to what would be a good
shift. The log read as follows:-
10.00 Watch opened
At 10.10 Joan noticed two people on the island. Binoculars and
telescopes were focused and, incredibly, that was indeed true.
How on earth could they have got there because the causeway
had been closed for almost two hours!
What was strange though was that these people did not seem to
be perturbed, indeed they seemed to be intent on hiding behind
some bushes. It appeared to us that they had no enthusiasm for
We decided that the best course was to maintain a watchful eye
and see what developed and we went into a strange situation
where they were watching us and we were watching them.
The minutes went by and then one got up and stood by the post
in full view, perhaps they didn’t want to stay there for
the next six hours after all. I put on my Hi-Vis jacket and
took the megaphone to the cliff edge.
“Hello, hello,” I shouted, “Wave your arms
if you want to be rescued.”
An arm was raised and we initiated rescue proceedings by informing
I went back to the cliff edge and shouted that the lifeboat
was on the way.
Then we heard the blips of the pagers as the coastguard summoned
up the Cliff Rescue then the radio call for Horton IRB. Soon
the clifftop was full of Landrovers, cars and people climbing
into blue overalls and donning hard hats ready for the shoreside
part of the operation. They processed down to Kitchen Corner
where the strandees would be offloaded from the ILB.
I looked through the telescope to find that there were now four
people to be rescued.
The causeway was long since fully covered so the inshore lifeboat
had a direct passage to the pick-up point. The first two were
brought to the mainland and the lifeboat went back for the remaining
All four now safely ashore and the lifejackets back on board
the lifeboat returns to Horton, the now rescued strandees are
brought up to the clifftop.
It transpired that they had made an early crossing, not realising
that the causeway was about to close. That in itself, at that
time of the day, was not disastrous. However one of the party
had tried to wade across but had wisely changed her mind before
it was too late. That decision saved her life.
All safe, no harm done. An uncomfortable and potentially dangerous
situation is brought to a satisfactory conclusion by professional
co-operation between NCI, Coastguards, Cliff Rescue and Horton
And well done Joan and Jonah!