This is the first in the series of four blogs focusing on the lifeboats that are operational along the Thanet coastline. We kick off this blog with a look at the Ramsgate All-Weather Lifeboat.
The All-Weather Boat (AWB) – pictured above
The Esme Anderson (14-02) which is a Trent class lifeboat (named after the 3rd longest river in the England), has been stationed at Ramsgate since 1994, being handed over by Christopher Oldham, the son of the donor the late Esme Anderson.
Facts and figures
Capable of 25 knots (RNLI want all their all weather lifeboats to be capable of 25 knots by 2019)
Has a range of 250 neutical miles
Length 14.3 metres
Fuel : 4,180 litres
Designed to lie afloat, either at deep-water moorings or alongside at a berth
A key feature is that it is self-righting
What do Coxswain’s across the country say about the Trent? “She’s fast and manoeuvrable enough to respond quickly, but powerful and large enough to take on big seas, tow big boats and carry lots of survivors”
The engine room is at the stern and space limitations led to a novel engine layout
One of the engines is turned around, driving the propeller in a conventional way, while the other works through a V drive
Also carries a small XP boat, which is an inflatable daughter boat with a 5 horse power outboard engine capable of 6 knots. This allows the crew to access areas the Trent cannot reach. Ramsgate use their XP boat along the River Stour where their Atlantic Inshore Boat cannot be used due to the shallow water
All lifeboats have a unique identification number – The first part indicates the class. Trent class lifeboats start with 14 because they are just over 14 metres in length. The numbers after the dash refer to the build number. So the first Trent built was given the number 14-01.
I promised last week after a conversation with one of the Margate Yacht Club members to write a blog about RNLI pagers. Well, as you can see from the photograph below, here it is. The pager is what some RNLI crew call their umbilical cord, basically attached to you wherever you go or whatever you are doing. If you go to bed, it’s on the bedside table next to your clothes and car keys which are ready to go incase you get a shout in the middle of the night!
So, how does the pager work? If you are old enough like me, you may remember pagers that you could hire or buy so that friends, work colleagues or relatives to get hold of you even if you weren’t near a phone. Basically, a very small electronic receiver encased in a plastic box which will receive a electronic signal that will convert into an audible tone and or visual message. Before the pager was introduced the lifeboat crews were alerted via maroons and a phone call from the Coxswain during the night time period.
Who sets the pagers off?
The UK Coastguard will receive an emergency call via the ‘999’ system from a member of the public indicating that someone or an animal is in the sea and needs assistance. The call could also originate from someone out at sea who has called ‘Mayday’ on their VHF radio channel 16 who is in trouble or has observed someone else in need of help. The Coastguard will then send a ‘launch request’ to the appropriate RNLI station. The RNLI station Launch Authority will then call the Coastguard asking for details. The launch authority will decide what happens eg ‘launch all boats’, ‘launch inshore boat’, ‘launch all-weather boat’ or ‘launch none’. The Coastguard will then page the appropriate lifeboat crew, who will make their way to the station as quickly as possible and kit up on arrival. The lifeboat crew will be selected and will receive a briefing from the Coxswain/helmsmen/hovercraft commander. The boat(s) will then be launched with the assistance of the shore crew.
So, that’s a very brief overview of what happens, of course the process can vary depending on location.
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