Missing Link log 15 May 1999

Crew: Kim Hollamby and Jake Kavanagh.
From: Penarth Marina, Penarth, Glamorgan, Wales.
To: Swansea Marina, Swansea, Wales.
Port engine start hours: 334.6. Finish hours: 338.0. Hours run: 3.4.
Stbd engine start hours: 334.7. Finish hours: 338.1. Hours run: 3.4.
Log start: 3546.8nm. Log finish: 3601.1nm. Distance run: 54.3.
Navigation log (full commentary follows below)
Diesel 418lt ‘87.78.
1630: through lock with 1.4m over cill.
1637: under bridge. (wpt 1017 51 26.17N 003 09.42W. On ldg lights for Cardiff.)
1653: wpt 1016 51 23.98N 003 08.73W. 0.25nm SW of S Cardiff.
1702: wpt 1018 51 22.50N 003 11.00W. 0.5nm 202T from Laverock Spit SCM. Wind light NE, visibility fair, sea smooth. Speed 21kn. Some driftwood in water.
1735: wpt 1019 51 21.60N 003 25.00W. 1.3nm from Breaksea Point, 195T from chimney.
1800: wpt 1020 51 23.80N 003 35.50W. 1.3nm SW of East Nash ECM.
1805: hear a slight thump, underwater rubbish. No apparent problem.
1816: wpt 1021 51 26.50N 003 40.90W. 0.4nm SW of Tusker Rk PHM.
1839: wpt 1022 51 30.30N 003 50.00W. 2.2nm 285T from Kentig ECM.
1848: stopped as Jake has seen a fin, porpoise?

1850: underway again.
1902: wpt 1023 51 34.17N 003 56.85W. 0.15nm NE of SW Inner Green Grounds SCM.
1916: wpt 1024 51 36.30N 003 55.63W. Inside E breakwater.
1923: through Tawe lock.
1925: into marina lock.
1940: alongside berth M13.


“You can see where I come from. Let’s do the job, let’s get it all sorted out, cleaned up, dusted off, everything must be kept in its right way and then let’s go home because we’ve all got lives here. I’m afraid I don’t live, eat and breathe this because you can’t do it.”

For anyone nurturing a romantic image of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and its duty to save lives in peril on the sea, such an attitude regarding the running of an RNLI station might come as a bit of a shock. But Andrew Rabaiotti takes the pragmatic view on most things. It is no doubt essential when running his well spoken of Chandlers Wine Bar and Restaurant on Penarth sea front. And it certainly helps when settling into his Honorary Secretary’s hot seat just 150m down the road.

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Amongst his RNLI responsibilities Penarth’s Hon Sec calls the shots for 19 operational crew, two trainees and a shore team of four. And he has ‘1m of kit at his disposal including an impressive four-year-old building housing a 32-knot Atlantic 75 RIB hooked up to a launch tractor that would shame a Sherman tank and a smaller D-Class inflatable with its attendant baby four wheel drive. Across a busy road is a concrete slipway that is beefy enough to take a much larger boat if the need ever arises.

Having spent 15 years on the crew, Andrew gravitated to his new role four years ago and quickly found it placed him at odds with his colleagues on occasions. An Honorary Secretary and his deputy launching controllers have difficult decisions to make:

“At the end of the day my job is purely to say yes you can go out of the door or no you are not going out of the door, based on the information that I have got. When it all happens you’ve got maybe half-a-dozen people champing at the bit and boats going out and all the rest of it. Somebody has to make an assessment. The hardest job in the world is saying no.”

Sometimes the no decision is based on weather and sea criteria, the Atlantic 75 being limited to no more than a Force 6-7. But other factors might apply:

“I’m not prepared to put the Institution’s boat at risk when somebody else may be able to help or (the object) is beyond help anyway. But as soon as someone says there is life involved we will do everything we can.”


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