Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Legacy of the RNLI

June 4th, 2005

LAST SATURDAY a new D-class Lifeboat was handed over to Montrose Lifeboat Station. It's an inshore boat for working in shallow waters where  Moonbeam', the 47 foot Tyne-class boat, cannot operate.

The new boat is named  David Leslie Wilson' in memory of a keen sailor who never forgot the service which rescued him when his yacht foundered in the Solway Firth. Montrose RNLI Station has benefited from his legacy which reflects the universal pride and gratitude felt for this totally voluntarily funded service. For more than 200 years the RNLI has touched the lives of countless sailors and their families.

About twenty years ago I was rattling a collecting tin on Lifeboat flag day, and a young woman pushed a £5 note into it. It was quite a sum to donate, and I asked her if she was sure she meant to give so much.

She told me that if the Lifeboat hadn't saved her uncle during the Second World War, she might never have known him. How better to express affection for a much-loved relative than by helping the service which, unquestioningly, went to his aid in wartime's dangerous and uncertain conditions.

During the naming ceremony for the new boat I recalled that there used to be a wet dock at Montrose Harbour. This was an inner dock with lock gates which could be closed to maintain a constant level of water when loading and unloading cargoes.

In 1969 HMS Wolverton, built by the old Montrose Shipbuilding Company in 1956, made a courtesy visit to the town and berthed in the wet dock. Clearance getting in and out of the dock was scarcely a hand's span on both sides, and when she came to leave she had to inch out, astern, under almost no power.

The tide draining out of Montrose Basin, and past the harbour, reaches a speed of up to eight knots – which is very fast. As Wolverton cleared the wet dock gates she was caught by the full force of an outgoing ebb tide.

Suddenly a very large ship was being  whirled' across the river towards the old pier at Ferryden (now known as Nicoll's Knuckle, honouring the late Alec Nicoll who for many years was the lifeboat Launching Authority).

As the speed of rapidly changing events dawned on Wolverton bells rang, lights flashed and matelots waved their hands in a frenzy of semaphoric lower deck fluency. After a tremendous threshing of white water at the blunt end, she finally gained mastery of the tide, and thankfully made her way safely down the river and into open sea.

If it had all gone  belly up in the water', and Wolverton had landed up on the Ferryden shore, all that the life boat crew would have needed to do to ensure the preservation of life, was provide several long ladders!

Written on Saturday, June 4th, 2005 at 8:29 am for Weekly.