Sunday, 25 November 2007

Whitstable Lifeboat Capsize

This is old footage but gives some idea of how nasty a capsize can be. Very shortly afterwards both the boat and all 3 crew were washed up ashore. No time at all for the righting and re-starting of the engines.

Apparently this was not a result of crew error. The boat launched into ferocious conditions with particularly steep waves. Because all of the weight in the boat is at the back (engines), when it takes off from a wave it will immediately pendulum with the bow as the centre of rotation. Thus the boat has a tendency to take off then become more vertical in flight (you can see this happen in the clip)! Two ways to counteract this are to either keep the boat stuck to the water or fill a bow tank with water ballast. I understand that at this time it was routine to launch with an empty tank and fill it as required. I believe that since this incident Atlantic class boats now launch with their bow ballast tanks full as a matter of routine. I'm sure Dave or John can clarify this.........

Taken from the Whitstable Lifeboat website:
On Sunday 3rd January 1999, the Atlantic 21 class lifeboat "British Diver" launched to assist a number of angling dinghies off Herne Bay, which had been caught out by a sudden deterioration in the weather. The lifeboat was under the command of Helmsman Mike Judge, with crew members Paul Kemp and Andy Williams.

About 100 yards after leaving the carriage, the lifeboat encountered a series of steep breaking waves, the last of which capsized the boat bow over stern. The righting bag was deployed, but the boat was washed ashore to the east of the harbour before the crew had a chance to reboard. None of the crew was badly hurt, and the angling dinghies were eventually assisted by the Sheerness Lifeboat.


Anonymous said...

Whitstable's boat was an Atlantic 21, they weren't fitted with bow ballast. The Atlantic 75 was retro-fitted with a bow balast system that allows the helm to dump and fill with ballast tank whilst underway. The Atlantic 85 has had it from new. The tank can also be filled ashore with a hose. I'm not sure that there are any fixed procedures as to whether the tank should be kept full when the boat is ashore I guess its up to the station. DT

lifeboatjohn said...

I had an incling this was the case. When did this capsize happen Dave?

Anonymous said...

Jan 3rd 1999


Douglas Wilcox said...

I am very glad no lives were lost during this incident.