Help, I'm not a celebrity don't get me out of here


A news item caught my eye this week about Humber Coastguards criticising anglers for taking to a wave swept pier because the fishing was good. They were accused of putting their own lives and those of others in danger. A helicopter and a lifeboat were stood down when the anglers rang the coastguard by mobile phone to say they were OK.
An RNLI spokesman was quoted as saying: ‘We can’t force people to be rescued.’ No they can’t , but they can be pretty intimidating when you question their ‘right’ to save your soul. Once , many years ago, I was drifting in a 30ft sailing boat through a shoal creek close to low water on a settled summer’s day. The boat nudged the bottom with 40 or so minutes to go before the last of the ebb. Slowly she started to heel over and I pulled the 12ft sailing tender I was towing, alongside, to take the children: two of my own two of my crew’s ashore because they would get bored stuck on a 45 degree surface for two or so hours. I left my crew, an artist, sketching on deck.
The next thing I knew was that two fast -moving RNLI RIBS were alongside armed with several men in heavy weather oilskins and loud hailers. Was I all right? Did I need assistance? Did I know I was aground? Yes, no, yes. Thank-you very much but yes. Once ashore a ‘back up’ Land Rover arrived on the causeway. They required the names and addresses of all on board. After the kids had played on the pub lawn for two hours or so I sailed back up to my boat on the new flood tide. Back came the RIBs zero-ing in on us like disturbed hornets. I felt guilty at being irritated with them, after all they were there to save me.
I probably knew the area better than the lifeboatmen and had certainly sailed it more than they – who were all several years my junior – as with the anglers there are times when the water-user might actually be better placed, than a man in a room on a VHF with a pair of binoculars, to know when his soul should be saved.