Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drilling for oil

Okay, so it's not a drilling rig. Judging by the scaffolding around the lifeboat house, what I was told about it being rebuilt must be true. Apparently they're checking the slipway as well to see if it's still in good condition and strong enough to hold our new lifeboat.

When I was a little girl my Uncle Dan worked on the skee rolls at the pier and, later, my grandfather worked in the ticket box at the entrance to the pier. I spent a lot of time there. For a long time I was scared to walk along the pier. I didn't like being able to see the sea below me. My Auntie Gay (Dan's wife) would tell me that the pier was strong enough to hold the Queen Mary. Well, she convinced me.

Today there are parts of the pier that wouldn't even hold me: they're fenced off and in need of repair.

And if the pier was scary, it was nothing like as bad as the narrow bridge from the pier out to the lifeboat house. The lifeboat is open to visitors when it's not out rescuing someone, and it's a very impressive sight in its house. I have been there! But only a couple of times was I brave enough to cross that walkway. It's strange as the sides are high and should feel quite safe, but I think it was the narrowness of it that scared me. I am such a wimp!

Last weekend, when we were away, it was the annual Mumbles raft race. This has happened every August for as long as I can remember now and draws crowds of spectators from all over Swansea, and participants from all over the place. Some take it very seriously and are only in it to win; others, especially pub teams, use it as an excuse to drink and dress up! Sinking in the middle of the bay is just part of the fun. I must post some photos if I can find any as some of the rafts have been quite spectacular in the past. It's one of those events that makes the village seem like a village again because everyone goes to watch. I can see people I haven't seen for years there.

Anyway the proceeds from the collections are given to the RNLI and this year it was a record £21,000. It constantly amazes me that the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) relies on voluntary contributions to keep it going. In most lifeboat stations it's only maybe the cox and engineer who get paid; the rest of the crew risk their lives voluntarily to go to sea in sometimes horrendous conditions to rescue those in distress.

In 1947 Mumbles lifeboat was wrecked when attending a ship in distress; all 8 of the lifeboat crew lost their lives. Four lifeboatmen were lost in a rescue in 1883, and six of the crew died in 1903. But it has saved over 800 lives in its 170 year history. (I wrote more about it on April 16th, 2007.)

The photo is taken from the top of Mumbles Hill. I did take some close-ups but wanted to show a little of the construction of the pier. See why I was scared?!


Baht At said...

Well they have to be volunteers because if they were employees then the Health and Safety nazis wouldn't allow them to risk their lives to save others.

It does disturb me how few people these days go out of their way to help others.

Dragonstar said...

We live 12 years on an island, shopping by small boat. We loved knowing the lifeboat was there. Those men all need awards.

CherryPie said...

Baht at has a point there!

Love the photo too!

Aileni said...

I remember the Samtamba well - it lay on the shore somewhere near Sker and could be seen from the Porthcawl train when we visited my grandmother.
Are there still Gammons in the crew?

Aileni said...

I have put up something on OddShots
that you might find interesting.

cheshire wife said...

You could have fooled me. It does look more like an oil rig than a pier.

The lifeboat men do a wonderful job.

Liz said...

But a surprisingly large number - mostly unsung - still do, baht at.

dragonstar, they do indeed.

Thanks, cherrypie.

i have newspaper cuttings from the time of the lifeboat disaster, aileni. It must have been a very sombre time.

They do, cheshire wife.

Louis la Vache said...

People who risk their lives to save others - what a noble thing. "Louis" needed to read this. Although he doesn't live in Oakland, he lives nearby and was dismayed over six murders in one day in Oakland. Your post gave "Louis" a needed boost.

Rose said...

So interesting, Liz. I don't live anywhere near water, so I am fascinated by the sea--as long as I don't have to go into it:)

leslie said...

Yes, I can see why you'd be scared crossing over. I would be, too!

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