For a feature in last week’s Press, I spent a Saturday morning visiting the Kinghorn RNLI team. However, due to the less than ideal weather conditions, I could not go out in the boat. So, I returned last weekend…
It was Megan Davidson, the self-proclaimed banter queen of the boat, who fired us off into the relatively calm waters of the Forth. Despite the tranquil conditions, she did her upmost to find the biggest waves to ride over, refusing to take pity on my stomach.
Thankfully, I had not eaten breakfast.
We shot off to Granton, where the trio practiced the routine of attaching a stranded boat to their own, one of the most common situations they face.
I stood befuddled at the sheer amount of knots it was crucial to know, all offering different roles in different situations. I tried to take it all in but, despite Neil Chalmers’ teaching, a vacuum formed in my head where new information is supposed to go.
It was soon time to go back to base. However, about half way across the Forth and a mile away from Inchkeith, the boat came to a stop.
Neil, who had taken over from Megan on steering duties, had a gleeful smile as he began to perform doughnuts in the boat.
Once we’d come to a stop, I was told now would be a good time to jump out of the boat.
So I, along with Sam Walters, leapt off the side of the boat and into Forth.
It’s a strange feeling, floating about in the middle one of Scotland’s biggest rivers, arms outstretched, relaxing. Thanks to the wetsuit, you don’t feel the cold. But if I had one piece of advice if you ever find yourself floating about the Forth: keep your mouth shut. I laughed as the boat came past and splashed us, and ended up with a mouth full of salt water. I don’t even want to begin thinking about germs.
The most embarrassing moment of the trip, though, was when the boat came back to pick us up. I grabbed hold of two bars inside the boat and waited for a wave to lift me up. I mistimed the moment. It required all three of the crew to drag me on board. I felt like a beached whale.
As if the morning had not been great enough, there was more to come. After arriving back and helping clean the boat, someone on the beach spotted the Forth’s resident humpback whale. For the first time in my life I got to see a whale leaping (or whatever whales do) out of the water, pretty much in the same spot I had floated around in some 20 minutes before. I was speechless (and those in the office will tell you that’s a rare occasion).
I can’t thank the team at the Kinghorn RNLI station enough for their hospitality. It was a true once-in-a-lifetime experience blasting through the Forth waters, floating about the river, and even getting to see the whale. I also can’t say enough about them and their dedication and commitment to helping others. There is no financial reward for them. No big thanks for the hours of practice. But it’s clear that they all love what they do, and the camaraderie in the team makes it fun to be around them.
The Kinghorn RNLI team will be hosting an information event on Kinghorn High Street on Saturday, from 10am to noon.