Not quite sure where to put this but I'm sure the mods will :)
I've still not calmed down from one of the most exiting days of my life yesterday.
I recently joined the South Australian Sea Rescue Squadron.
We'd met some of the guys at the Boat Show here in Adelaide a few weeks back.For a while we have been considering buying a boat for fishing / fun but have no experience and need to obtain the required boat license.
After talking to the guys on their stand we decided to join.
It is a volunteer organisation with many very experienced people involved,a great bunch of guys giving up their time..
A lot of the time they are involved with safety at sea and bringing in boats that have run out of fuel but there is a more serious side to it all - the sea can kill easily - something I do realise.
The Squadron also has Seamanship courses which give you a huge amount of experience and knowledge which leads to your boat licence - ideal for us.
To go on active service you do need to get your seamanship course passed plus a few other bits and bobs - but you can always help out in other non active duties.
The Volunteers at the show offered to take me out on one of the patrol boats as an observer - because to be honest I've not been out to sea much and was not sure if I had "sea legs".I needed to test myself out because if I did get sea sick it would be a waste of money buying a boat!
Was I nervous as the day loomed , constantly watching the weather forecast and hoping for calm seas.
When I arrived at the Squadron quarters the sky was black and the wind was getting up.
The crew said they were going out unless the weather was impossible as it was great experience for them - after all an emergency will not always wait for the weather to calm down.
The guys kitted me out with a cat 1 life preserver which looks like an all weather jacket but is inflatable and then went through a safety routine with me.
Flippin' heck was I nervous as we set off but at the back of it I felt safe as I was out with a highly trained crew - even though there was lots of joking and ribbing each other - especially picking on me and talk of "Berley trails" which is their code for puking.
Yup - it was very bouncy indeed, my knuckles went white quickly.I was told to keep my eyes on the horizon as this helps with sea sickness - trouble is that it was bobbing up and down as well!
Well after 10 minutes I thought "this is quite fun actually".
By the time we pulled in at O'Sullivans Beach boat ramp I was grinning like an idiot.
The ramp attendant said we must be mad coming out in weather like this.
The guys then bought me a big greasy hot dog with lots of mustard, I knew they were testing me so chomped into it.
This is when things became a lot more serious..............
A very nasty weather front could be seen rolling in - the radios were going mad with foul weather warnings.
The skipper asked me if I would seriously be OK for the return as it was really going to be rough.
"In for a cent - in for a Dollar" I said.
Well ........... there were times when the boat (7.2 mt) left the water completely!!
The 4 of us were crammed into the small cabin which immediately started to steam up - so I got the job of wiping the cockpit windows ( which is hard when you are clinging on for your life!)
All the way through the guys were cracking jokes and waiting for my "Berley trail"
I never realised how hard you have to work to keep a boat upright and going in a fairly straight course - the Skipper certainly worked that wheel!!
At one stage we completely lost visibility in the rain and could just see the prow of the boat - this was like something out of a movie!
The base radio station kept calling in for a safety check and inquiring if I'd done a "Berley trail" yet!
Eventually we pulled into the boat ramp and base at West Beach and I must admit my cheeks were aching from grinning so much.
As I got off the boat I did kiss the solid ground and did thank the guys profusely for so much fun.
Through it all I did feel safe in the company of a highly trained crew - I would not have done that with any armatures to say the least.
I really felt as if I'd passed a test in my life,an amazing moment.
After we had to clean out the boat and give it a thorough drying out - and after that the customary few beers in the clubhouse.
What a great day!
It ranks as one the top days in my life.
It is all about why we came to Australia - to get out of our comfort zone and try new things in life.
I have been looking to do some volunteer work - I've found it now.
I can't wait to get on the seamanship course now and eventually buy a boat with my new found experience and knowledge.I'm also taking the radio course as well for good measure.
The guys are going to show me their boats as well so I can make an informed choice - they just love helping out - and more importantly getting you out on the sea in a safe manner.
If anyone is interested in joining up do drop me a line or have at look at the Sea Rescue website............http://www.sasearescue.org.au/
Only too happy to help.
Sorry if I've dribbled on but this is something I'd never have had the chance to do in the UK.