Wednesday, 31 March 2010

William Riley Part II

When she left service the 'William Riley' spent a short time in store before being sold in November 1931 for just £35 to Mr B. Greenstreet of Walthamstow and was converted at some cost into a motor cruiser called 'Whitby II'. By the mid 70's she had moved inland to Stourport where she was fitted with a 2.2 litre engine. In the late 80’s or early 90’s the boat was moved to Devon and moored at Barnstaple, once again named 'William Riley'. After a succession of owners she was sold again in 2001 and had an new cabin and engine fitted. After having been towed in by the RNLI with engine failure she sometime later escaped her moorings and was swept into the low bridge at Barnstaple destroying the wheelhouse. Later, on a low tide, the boat sadly settled onto a mooring post resulting in two holes in the hull below the waterline. The next owner had little time for repair work, so there she remained in a deteriorating and near derelict state. Her cabin rotted and vandalism resulted in further damage to the hull. In 2005 her owner decided to dispose of her by putting her for sale on eBay advertising her as a derelict lifeboat and she was spotted by Dave Charlton, a fundraiser for the RNLI in the North-East who recognised her historical importance.

(thanks to the Whitby Historic Lifeboat Trust for the photo)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Talking about Lifeboat DNA

We have secured the loan of the 'William Riley' historic lifeboat from Whitby to use for some fundraising activities this summer. The plan is that we will have her here for some of Carnival week in order to raise funds and raise awareness of our Lifeboat week which will follow on about a fortnight later.

"William Riley of Leamington and Birmingham" was one of a batch of light, shallow draught pulling (rowing) lifeboats built by the Thames Iron Works at Canning Town in London in 1909. Given hull number TL37 and official number 594 she was built at a cost of £722.9.1d, provided by a legacy from William Riley of Leamington. Her 10 oars could have two men each, so with a coxswain, assistant coxswain and bowman 23 men completed her crew.

She was stationed at Upgang lifeboat station, 1 mile to the north of Whitby, where she served 10 years and launched twice before the station was closed and she was moved to Whitby. She served for another 22 years at Whitby as the number 2 boat (there was also a motor lifeboat) and launched a further 31 times saving 10 lives.

Monday, 29 March 2010


Amongst the many things that we discussed last week at RNLI Headquaters, Paul Boissier and I talked at length about the heritage of the RNLI and what it means for us and the institution. He used the expression 'Lifeboat DNA' which I liked very much.

In Paul's view it is vital that the RNLI is not seen as merely a 'Victorian' institution which dwells entirely on it's past and fails to move forwards. Equally, he recognises that it is the very history of the RNLI and the reputation that this has created which gives it such high recognition and levels of support on the streets of our nation.

In his opinion it is essential to recognise exactly what it is that is fundamental to the lifeboat DNA and build upon this strength in a balanced way.

Part of this is keeping hold of the history of the Institution and re-telling the stories of past deeds in a meaningful and respectful way.

Another part is to embrace new technology and move with the times in a way which strengthens and improves the service that we provide around the coast.

Ultimately this has been what the RNLI has always done and thankfully our new Boss recognises this and is determined for it to continue.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Before 'n' After

Our boathouse is rather small and we often struggle to find space for training and storage. So when two old buildings behind the boathouse came up for rent it was decided to put a bid in for them. The first is the old Coastguard hut which we hope will in time become usable as a teaching space both for crew and for visiting school groups.

The other is an old munitions store and toilet block for the coastal defence battery which used to inhabit Peveril point.

It has been empty for some time now and with some work will make a good store for all of our Guild's fundraising supplies.

Today we held a work party for a couple of hours to clear all of the junk out of the two buildings in preparation for making them properly weather and water tight.
Tom took three or four loads up to the tip in his pickup.

While Dave, Kev and John cleared all of the growth off the roof.

By the time I left we had three relatively empty and clean spaces ready to begin work on their transformation in to usable spaces...watchthis space!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Getting ready...

So my old 'shout bike' has breathed its' last breath. It's had one dunking too many and seized solid. So, for some time now I have been looking into sourcing a suitable replacement. Unaccustomed as I am to paying for shout bikes, I today responded to an advert in the Co-Op for a man's mountain bike and, £30 later, I was the proud owner of this little beauty (not to mention a full compliment of accessories such as water bottle, lock, helmet, lights, panniers and trip computer). Understandably I'm pretty excited by it and looking forwards to a summer of cycling too and from the boathouse. And by the way's locked up!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Stretched ILB

For some reason my waterproof camera was not behaving last night and the flash kept on deciding not to work. Consequently some of the photos were slightly odd. That said, I quite liked this one of the ILB launching. It looks fast and colourful and somehow exciting.

We've still got 'Fishermen's Friend' at the moment. Dave nipped over to Poole to trial our boat last week and found it still losing coolant from the engine. Unfortunately it is now going to have to have the cylinder head removed so it will be some time longer before we get her back.

The ILB crew were having some troubles last night too with them finding it hard to select gears on the engine. When this was investigated, it was hard to pinpoint the problem, thought it was narrowed down to the gearbox rather than the linkage. The Coastguard were informed and we were briefly off-service while a replacement gearbox was dispatched from Poole and fitted by Kev.

Hood off and lower leg removed the ILB looked strangely impotent.


Saw this on Facebook and love it. Created by Helen Peacock as part of a brief set by the Univeristy of Sunderland. Excellent stuff Helen!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In safe hands

I had the very real pleasure today of meeting the new CEO of the RNLI, Paul Boissier (who I nearly but not quite met in January). Kindly Paul gave up some of his time for a chat about his role and the state of the RNLI as he has found it.

What quickly became apparent was how impressed he is with what he has found from speaking with both the Crews, fundraisers and employees that he has met...but also, and I think very importantly, how keen he is to continue to build upon the RNLI's heritage and also it's reputation for innovating and providing a world leading rescue service.

It was clear from what he had to say that he recognises that he has inherited a truly treasured national institution and that he is looking forward with enthusiasm to spending the next decade of his life ensuring that he can pass it on in even better health than it is at the moment.

I hope to have some more photos and possibly even some audio from the meeting in the next day or two, so watch this space.

In the meantime, thanks Paul for your time and welcome aboard!

Monday, 22 March 2010

A couple of photos

A couple of photos from last night's shout taken by Dave Corb on his iphone I presume.

Here's the ALB being recovered, note the amount of PPE being worn by the slipway crew.

And here is what some of the other crew were up to while we were out...downloading the latest iphone apps I presume?!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

March shout

There's nothing worse than sitting down to a Sunday roast only to be called from the table by a buzzing pager. However, needs must and it would seem that most of the crew left half eaten roasts to attend this evening's shout. Once we had assembled, it turned out that we were heading out to a 33ft yacht which had lost nearly all power in a dying breeze and so were unable to start their engine and were drifting pretty much at the mercy of the tide in the tidal race at St Aldhelm's race. Once on scene we put Rob aboard and rigged up a tow prior to towing them back to our mooring in Swanage. After an 8 mile tow we soon had them attached to our mooring and safely ashore.

I'm now sat here typing and enjoying cold crumble!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Fishermen's Friends

I woke up to this story on the radio this morning. Funny really because only last night a number of the crew were involved in singing some shanties after the exercise. Perhaps we are in at the start of a resurgence? Even Johnny Depp is doing it!

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Some days just take your breath away. Today was one of them. As a special mother's day treat I left Liz alone and went out for a paddle in the kayak.

I put the boat in at Shell bay in Poole harbour and then paddled out of the harbour and across Studland bay towards Old Harry. The tide and wind were at my back and the sun in my face as I passed some riders out from Studland Stables on the beach.

Passing through Old Harry I glanced back and caught a small yacht framed in one of the arches.

Looking the other direction moments later I caught sight of Pinnacle framed in another!

Heading across Swanage bay I passed numerous friends out on the water including Mrs Coxswain out in one of the Pilot Gigs.

Then stopped for a quick chat with Dave T out with the wonderful Angela before home for lunch and Mother's day cake baking with the girls.

Awesome I think you'll agree?

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Busy day

It was a busier day here than normal yesterday, perhaps due to getting a little mention on the official RNLI facebook page. It never ceases to amaze me how interlinked and connected we can become in our online lives.

It's been a nice day here in Swanage, quiet on the lifeboat front but there have been a few folk out on the water. I bumped into Dave T down at the boatpark busy preparing his own boat for the season ahead, mines almost ready to go so with only one week of term left I am eagerly looking forward to some time on the water very soon.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Exercise with a difference

Well, last night's exercise was bit of an unusual one. Presently our own boat is in Poole at Headquarters having some work done to resolve an ongoing issue with coolant for the engines. So last night we put to sea in 'Fishermen's Friend', 12-33 one of the relief lifeboats. Within minutes it became apparent that we had a problem. Dave entered the engine room to check that all was well and returned commenting that there was a burning smell coming from the port engines starter motor.

The problem was that the starter motor on the port engine had jammed in (engaged) so was spinning with the engine. That basically turned it into an un-regulated generator which we think is what then caused the radar and laserplot to shut down. It also damaged the MF receiver, the Gyro compass for the radar and the power supply for the autohelm units, so, by the time we turned for home we had no electronics and no certainty that the port engine would still be running when we got back to station.

Luckily Martin re-housed quickly and safely and before we knew it most of us were heading for a pint leaving Dave to sort the damage!

So this morning Dave reported that all was well again: 'A new starter motor has been fitted, the batteries tested and all the electronics checked/repaired as required'. Well done mate...

(Sorry for the lack of photos...I've run out of storage space on my google account so it will take 24 hours to sort this out)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Young Charlie

Young Charlie here is a lifeboat fan.

This 5 year old from Bristol has been a lifeboat enthusiast since he visited a 'B' class lifeboat last year. Since then he has been asking to visit a bigger lifeboat.

So his Mother arranged for him to visit us on the day after his 5th birthday and these photos show his obvious delight at his visit.

In an incredibly generous act he raised £125 from his birthday money and donated it to the RNLI.

Thanks are an amazing young man!