The wind screams down the cloud torn skies.
It blows a raging gale.
The hailstones make you close your eyes.
It's wisest not to sail,
But one boat dare remain out there.
Her crew don't think it hard.
The safety boat; her constant care
To keep a watchful guard.
I've heard men say it can be dull,
But that's not really true.
The world of dolphin, tern and gull
Brings plenty work to do.
Though vigilance when gales are laid
May sound a piece of cake.
To stay sharp as a razor blade
Needs practice... no mistake.
And day by day, whatever goes,
You keep your careful notes.
You practise with your radios
And exercise your boats.
Fast rescue boats need crews who will
Get launched with lightning speed,
For hypothermia can kill
In minutes... all take heed.
For fire float, lifeboat, ambulance,
At once you're all of these.
You never must be caught with pants
Descending round your knees.
The rig crews need to know you're there,
And wide awake each second.
Next hour, next day, next week, next year,
You will be there when beckoned.
And even when you rescue men.
They may be close to death.
Your crew and paramedics then
Can help them still draw breath.
You have accommodation fit
To see them through the storm,
And medicines and first aid kit
To keep them safe and warm.
The men who so depend on you
May give it little thought,
Or some may think high praise your due,
According as they're taught.
So keep your training up to date,
Be proud of what you do,
Though some appreciate too late
The safety boat and crew.
Hornbeck Sentry, 7 March
©1997 C. R. Hilton