Local Knowledge is the Best Knowledge…

Boat Diving Boat Handling Scuba Diving Training

Sometimes life’s not as straight forward as we may like.
This week I’ve been in West Wales working out of Milford Haven. The weather has been superb bar the mist that has shrouded the haven yesterday.

We’ve been running a couple of training and development skills courses – helping divers become better and practice their skills to make them safer.

First day we dived around Stack Fort in the Haven which was fantastic. The second and third day we headed out to sites around Skokholm and Skomer as the weather was amazing. Today we went back to the fort for a quick dip before heading back.

What I already know and what I thought I had garnered is that with all the best planning in the world local knowledge is way better than theoretical knowledge!

This is the spiral of troubles that a bit of mis-information and a lack of local knowledge brought us…

As we came back into Gelliswick to recover the boat, we had missed our recovery window for the slipway and the water was too low to egress. Turns out that on the bigger spring tides the slip is inaccessible without a four by four sooner than in other tides – obvious I know, but the timings I had been given were incorrect – now I know for future times.

As such, we off loaded the divers and kit onto the beach and then one of our Boat Ops offered to take the boat up to East Llanion slipway. This seemed like a sensible plan and so I headed up to the East Llanion slip in the van with the trailer whilst they headed up the river.

I arrived at East Llanion and wondered where the boat had got to as there was no sign of it and I had assumed it would be there before me.

Again local knowledge would have certainly been advantageous…

The Boat Op had sensibly headed out into the shipping lane from Gelliswick and had been following the Port buoys along the Haven heading up river. However, little did they know that the exact route they were heading on had a sand bar that is only just covered by the water at low spring tides, so they hit that at 12-knots. That was the end of their journey up river!

Without panicking, they tried to get the boat off the sand bar, but couldn’t. As such, they put a call into the Milford Haven coastguard for advice and support. Thankfully the Coastguard had a safety boat operating in the region.

The safety boat came alongside our boat, made sure our Boat Op was Ok, and then towed them off the sand bar. Eventually, forty minutes later than planned, they arrived at East Llanion Slip. The boat was recovered and all was good.

So the moral of the story is, sometimes things can be avoided by taking a bit more time in the planning and preparation of an event, rather than assuming we know whats best and the correct way to carry things out.

However, from my perspective, nobody got hurt, no damage was done, embarrassment by the Boat Op will be overcome, and never assume the information received is 100% correct. We have learnt from this and the issues will be avoided in the future.

In the words of Alexander Pope – ‘To Err is human…’ in the words of me – mistakes are good learning opportunities.

Many thanks to Alex Dilly from S.O.A.S. Safety Boats and Dive in 2 Pembrokeshire for the help and support to our Boat Op – they were very pleased to see a friendly face – Thanks!

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