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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 31/01/2020

In 2020, Scotland’s Coasts and Waters will be celebrated with a programme of activity designed to inspire both visitors and locals to explore and experience our unrivalled shores.

Each month we’ll shine a light on some of the people who live, work and have a passion for our coasts and waters.

We’re starting the year with Wull Wood, 39, an RNLI volunteer who is 2nd Coxswain at Anstruther Lifeboat Station, Fife, and a skipper of a commercial fishing vessel out of Pittenweem.

 

When did you first get involved with the RNLI?

It was May 2000 when I joined so it’s been nearly 20 years now.

What made you want to become part of a lifeboat crew?

There were two main reasons. Coming from a fishing family I was essentially brought up on the sea and have a great passion for it. Also, my uncle was the coxswain of Anstruther lifeboat back then and they were looking for crew and he asked me. I said, “I’ll give it a try and see if I like it” and I knew from the first exercise that I went out on that it was definitely for me.

What is the initial training like?

It takes two to three months before you go out on a boat, due to the training and health and safety requirements, learning rope work, and you also have to learn procedures of how to launch a lifeboat before you even go on the lifeboat.

How do you find out if you’re needed to help with a rescue?

At Anstruther the coxswains and tractor drivers are on rotas, so every fourth weekend I cover a full weekend as a coxswain, and the rest of the crew are all on pagers so if they’re available they’ll come along.

How often are you involved in terms of training and rescues?

Years ago, you would call it the ‘silly season’ from June to September, and you could be out twice a week and exercising once a week, so it could be really busy. I’d say times are changing now, it’s more spread out over the year. People are a lot more aware when they go to the coast now. There’s so much more information online, people can learn about an area before they go.

Are there any particular rescues that have stayed with you?

The one with the happiest ending which was the most challenging for the lifeboat crew took place about ten years ago. It involved a passenger vessel that goes out to the Isle of May in Fife. It got into trouble and ended up on the rocks and we saved fifteen people off it. The hardest part was getting people off the boat first and onto the May Island; getting the boat off the rocks and securing it in a safe position and taking the casualties back to Anstruther. It took a lot of teamwork.

What does it mean to you to be part of the RNLI and play a role in saving lives?

It’s a great sense of achievement being part of the RNLI. It is such a well-known life-saving organisation. Also, being a part of what we call the ‘lifeboat family’ - people that you meet from other stations. I get a great buzz when the pager goes off but once the call-out is actually done, the sense of achievement you get from helping someone that’s been in distress of some kind is why I love it and why I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years.

2020 is the Year of Coasts and Waters. What would you say Scotland’s coasts and waters mean to you?

Even when I think back to when I was a child, I used to live on the beaches and the harbours, and the rocks. It means a lot to me.

What’s the top piece of advice you would give to people engaging in or around our waters?

The best bit of advice I could give is to watch the Float to Live video online. It’s all about keeping calm if you do fall in the water and don’t panic.

 

Find out more

  • The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Find out more about the work of the RNLI here and follow Anstruther Lifeboat Station on Twitter @AnstrutherRNLI
  • Why not celebrate and find out about the courageous RNLI lifeboat crews as part of Launch! On the Sea with Scotland’s Lifeboats - an immersive live film performance opening up the RNLI’s archive to international composer, sound artist and beatboxer Jason Singh and award-winning film curator Shona Thomson. A YCW2020 supported event, it will be on tour this summer – find out more here
  • Want to find out more about how your business can maximise the opportunities presented by Year of Coasts and Waters 2020? Click here to find lots of inspiration in our Marketing Toolkit.

You can also find useful information at www.watersafetyscotland.org.uk

 

Fast Facts

The first commissioned lifeboat in Anstruther was in 1865.

There are 46 RNLI Lifeboat Stations in Scotland and 7 RNLI lifeguarded beaches.

The Coxswain is in charge of the all-weather lifeboat and is in command when at sea.

 

 

Anstruther Harbour

Credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam