Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat Station: A Shipshape Operation
Coxswain, Anthony Barclay, heard the call of the sea in his early years as he grew up in Moelfre where the sound of the lifeboat maroons going off was a regular feature. Similar to many young boys, it held a fascination and excitement which never left him.
He attended Indefatigable from the age of 15 and joined the Royal Fleet Auxilliary ship Bay Leaf in 1982 which shortly afterwards was called up to the
Falklands War to supply fuel and ammunition to the war ships.
Reflecting on it now, he acknowledges the danger of the ship's situation operating within the "total exclusion zone" but at the time, regarded it as "the call of duty".
He also admits that at the tender age of 17 the dangerous situation didn't hit home until he saw the anxiety etched on his mother's face when the
ship returned to Plymouth at the end of the conflict.
He vividly recalls seeing HMS Glamorgan after being damaged by an exocet missile and HMS Brilliant damaged by machine gun fire.
Anthony spent another 10 years at sea, and on trips home for leave joined the crew of Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat. He was appointed as full-time coxswain after ten years as a volunteer, whilst serving at sea and travelling widely.
Anthony's on-shore duties revolve largely around lifeboat training, ensuring that all the staff acquire the rigorous skills and attributes required to crew on the lifeboat. His job over the years has become harder as less newcomers
have any maritime background.
All training during the first year is carried
out locally, thereafter staff attend regular training courses in Poole alongside continued training in Moelfre, as they work their way through a probationary period and the different training levels through which they have
to progress, whilst showing extraordinary commitment to their task.
The general smooth running of the RNLI Lifeboat station is down to Anthony. Keeping 40 shore and boat crew happy and pushing in the same direction is not always straightforward. Community relations are all important and an open door policy is very much encouraged at the station.
Many members of the local community offer their services stewarding and Anthony works hard at developing strong ties with outside agencies like the local coastguards.
But what stimulates and excites him the most about his job, is responding to the bleeper and experiencing the adrenalin buzz and resultant mind focus which kicks in immediately.
From that point he is set on the task in hand,
formulating a picture in his mind of what will confront him and his crew, the weather conditions, tides etc. They are likely to encounter on their call-out.
I asked Anthony to recall the incidents which stand out in his mind as most memorable. He cites their call out to the vessel Kaskalot floundering in Force 11 gales off Dulas. "This topped it for sheer physical and mental endurance - we spent 18 hours in horrendous seas."
He also reflects on their call out to the disabled yacht Annarchy in Force 10 conditions in June 2002, when it took 6 attempts to manoeuvre his lifeboat close enough to the stricken vessel to enable crew member, Rod Pace, to jump across onto the yacht to secure a tow line, not an operation that he would wish to repeat regularly.
Two crew members from the Annarchy were saved.
Despite the dangers inherent in operations such as those described above, the great team work, crew expertise and capability of Moelfre's Tyne Class RNLI offshore lifeboat, Robert & Violet, provide Anthony with confidence that he has no better chance of responding effectively to incidents and providing sea rescue services which are second to none on Anglesey waters.
Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat's capabilities will be increased within the next few years as the boathouse is re-built to house the new Tamar class lifeboat, the RNLI's latest all weather lifeboat.
Response times will be improved as a result of if its top speed capability of 25 knots, compared to the Tyne's 18 knots, and new on-board computer controls mean remote management of some of the lifeboat's functions and better task sharing among the crew.
Incidents attended by Moelfre Lifeboat July/August 07:
2.7.07 Capsized dinghy off Moelfre Island
12.7.07 Capsized kayak off Lynas
14.7.07 People cut off by tide at Red Wharf Bay
25.7.07 Capsized catamaran
25.7.07 Speedboat setting off red flares
25.7.07 Children cut off by tide
28.7.07 Vessel requiring assistance off Point Lynas
31.7.07 Children in dinghy swept out to sea
31.7.07 Yacht with engine failure
31.7.07 Children in dinghy swept out to sea
3.8.07 Boat in difficulty - Red Wharf Bay
4.8.07 Tender to a yacht in difficulty
7.8.07 Jet ski in difficulty in Bull Bay