Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Eye of the needle

The keel of the Mersey lifeboat is 15 centimetres wide at most. It fits into a channel on the slipway which is no more than 30cm wide. When re-housing the boat the two are underwater and need to be brought together. This is akin to trying to reverse your car tow ball onto the hitch of a trailer, except; you can't see either of them, you have no steering wheel, you have two engines with separate throttles driving each set of wheels independently, the road surface is moving, not only that but moving differently at the front and back, the kids are screaming in the back seat (and blocking your view). To cap it all you have a very large audience who would be shocked if you didn't manage it. No pressure!

There are two schools of thought as to how to achieve this seemingly impossible feat of boat driving: Firstly there are the full speed astern brigade, line the boat up, a good positive sternboard, and hope you get it right. Get it wrong and you begin to wish you had tried the other option. Which is, stop 100 metres off the slip, carefully observe what the tide and wind are doing to the boat, slowly come astern and adjust carefully and then hope that you are no more than 15cm to port or starboard of where you want to be!


Unknown said...


These are very good photos... I assume that you take them all yourself? Or are some of them from the RNLI library?

lifeboatjohn said...

Dan, thanks very much. I take almost all of these photos, perhaps 9 in every 10 (though not this one unfortunately). The remainder are from our own gallery which we all contribute to. These are hard to credit as we rarely know who is holding tte camera at any one time. I do all the cropping though.......