Fleetwood RNLI reunite boat with owners after two years apart

Lifeboats News Release

Following a call from one of the merchant ships sailing out of Heysham on Saturday 3 August, UK Coastguard requested that Fleetwood RNLI launch to a small boat seen adrift in Morecambe Bay. At the time, the volunteer lifeboat crew had no idea how this story would develop.

The boat 'My Girls' loaded and ready to return home with owners James Walker and Phil Smith


James Walker and Phil Smith with 'My Girls'

The D class inshore lifeboat, Mary Elizabeth Barnes, was launched at 5.45am, unsure if there were people on board the small rowing boat. Fortunately, the boat was empty and it appeared that nobody had been on board for some time. So, the small rowing boat was towed back to Fleetwood.

The name on the back of the boat was practically illegible, so there was no easy way of discovering who the owner was.

Fleetwood RNLI Press Officer, Ken Harcombe, put out an appeal on the charity’s Facebook page, complete with photograph. They received many offers to buy and suggestions from their supporters, but amongst the messages, was one from James Walker, from Lancaster. He recognised the boat from the photo and informed the volunteers at Fleetwood, that it had been lost nearly two years ago, from Sunderland Point. He said they could confirm it was his boat, by the unusual butt ended scarf joints and the name My Girls on the back. The volunteers confirmed they could just make out the name and it did indeed have the unusual joints.

James and joint owner of the boat, Phil Smith, collected the boat from Fleetwood RNLI and told them they’d moored up at Sunderland Point after salmon fishing, in the summer of 2017. The boat must have broke free from its mooring and James and Phil assumed it had sunk. They was absolutely delighted to receive their boat back into their ownership.

Phil said ‘We never thought we’d see My Girls again. She’s in remarkably good condition all things considered and it looks like it was probably aground on the marshes for some time. We are very grateful to get her back’.

Phil told the volunteers at Fleetwood RNLI that the boat was originally a project, four years ago, to help give youngsters joinery skills.

Ken Harcombe from Fleetwood RNLI said, ‘The power of social media never fails to impress me. I honestly thought we’d never discover the rightful owner, but we were delighted to hand it back to them. We can’t thank our supporters enough for helping us reunite My Girls back with their owner.’

'My Girls' ready for collection


'My Girls'

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The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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