On the Beach ( again )
Hypothermia is a killer and poses a potential danger to anyone who has the misfortune to be caught exposed or immersed in sea water without protection, even for a short period. I was very familiar with these risks as a boatman working offshore but no one ever mentioned heat exhaustion!
We stepped ashore to much attention, the beach crowded with caricatures from a seaside postcard. We appeared like black suted astronauts landing but our `spaceship` was an orange standby vessel anchored a couple of miles offshore. Our ship had finished its work and after a bit of open swimming in the North Sea we were waiting for our next job so we slipped away in the RIB to get some fish and chips for the rest of the crew. The day was one of those rare moments as an adult where I felt transported back in time, away from the monotony of life aboard a standby vessel in the North Sea, to a time when the seaside seemed like a dream, how I remembered it as a child.
Standing by the RIB, in the full heat of the sun in my black wet-suit, I removed my life jacket and unzipped the back of my wetsuit in an attempt to try and cool down a little. I was sitting on the sand watching some children making a sand castle; I could feel the trapped sweat pouring from me. Earlier, approaching the beach at nearly 30 knots, we had picked up two children on an inflatable mattress being blown some distance offshore and like superman to the rescue, surprising everyone including the lifeguard on duty. As my buddies disappeared for the fish and chips, I relaxed on the beach on that balmy afternoon and remembered being a young sailor ashore in the Royal Navy on a similar beach, standing on the pier looking at a beauty competition through a telescope. On that occasion the shutter had jammed in the open position and so I could look as long as I liked! These thoughts had been prompted by the queue of swim-suited girls about to hire deckchairs. Suddenly a woman screamed as a crab nipped an unmentionable place and I saw two boys running away laughing! My eyes followed them in the direction of a group of children who were crying by the punch and Judy tent. I watched a uniformed officer leading a man away that turned out to be the punch and Judy man! We had landed on a beach in Norfolk and I was sober but around me everything appeared surreal. The people around me spun around as I stared out to sea. Uniformed sailors swarmed the seaside town and their antics could be plainly heard as I kissed that girl with that hat on. What was she doing here?
The Putford `TERN` One of the `ORANGE SHIPS`
I lay looking at the sky as a group of people stood over me. I had passed out with heat exhaustion wearing my wet-suit and one of the girls I had seen earlier was fanning me with a New Scientist Magazine. She said she was training to be a doctor. After getting over the ordeal of having my wet-suit removed by the life guard assisted by the young doc, I was whisked away for first aid during which time the others returned to find the abandoned RIB! They had questioned a well proportioned woman in a deckchair who informed them I had been taken away by two very attractive swim-suited girls!
I WISH I HAD SOMETHING TO DO, ON THIS FIRST TRIP AWAY FROM YOU,
SHIP SHES ROLLING LIKE A PIG, STANDING BY THIS JACK-UP RIG
ENSCO 80`S GOING DOWN, SHES GOING DOWN, GOING DOWN
SEAS NOW CALM FULL MOON TONIGHT, REFLECTING TIMES NOW OUT OF SIGHT.
ORANGE SHIPS OUT ALL YEAR THROUGH, ONE DAY A MONTH TO CHANGE THE CREW
NOONE KNOWS WHERE WE`LL BE, EVEN OUT ON THE COLD NORTH SEA.
TEN DAYS OUT AND MY LOVE GROWS, BOUND TO YOU LIKE THE TUGS ON TOW
PAST THE LIGHTS OF THE SHAUN BAROQUE, STAND-BY YOU THROUGH HEAVANS LOT
AMETHYST, EXCALIBER, CLIPPER, CLEETON, HEWITT, ROUGH;
GAS FIELDS SPREAD OUT ACROSS THE SEA, GALLAHAD, LEMAN, INDE
I WRITE TO YOU NOW EVERY DAY BUT MY LETTERS CANT GET AWAY
LAUNCH THE BOAT BOYS FLY THEM WAVES; WORDS OF LOVE PLEASE FLY TODAY
TONIGHT INSHORE WEVE GOT THE PHONE, BUT ITS RINGING IN YOUR EMPTY HOME
FROM GAS FIELD SPREAD ACROSS THE SEA, GALAHAD, LEMAN, INDE
AS MORNING BREAKS I SEE YOU SMILE AND FEEL YOU TOUCH ME FOR A WHILE
CHERYL YOU ARE ALL TO ME, EVEN OUT ON THE COLD NORTH SEA FEEL THE WARMTH OF THE LOVE THAT GROWS, BOUND TO YOU LIKE THE TUGS ON TOW
GAS FIELDS SPREAD ACROSS THE SEA, GALAHAD, LEMAN, INDE.
When your hot. Take a swim!