Dover RNLI celebrates Fête de la Mer in France
On Saturday, the Dover RNLI lifeboat crew travelled to the Opal Coast in Boulogne-sur-Mer to take part in a French festival celebrating the sea and the maritime world.
The Fête de la Mer – Festival of the Sea – is held every two years for four days in mid-July and features a variety of events that celebrate nautical pursuits.
Attractions include trips out to sea on heritage sailing boats, ships open to visitors, nautical parades, a maritime skills and traditions village, a sea market, singing and dancing, tastings of sea food products and exhibitions.
Perhaps the most spectacular attraction is the flotilla, which attracted 300,000 visitors in the last edition. A variety of large sailing and traditional boats from both Britain and France take part in a sea display, with Dover’s Severn class lifeboat – the largest lifeboat in the RNLI fleet – featuring alongside the Calais lifeboats and the SNSM Boulogne.
The visit was made more poignant this year following the tragic loss of three SNSM crew from Les Sables-d'Olonne in a storm just over a month ago. Dover crew members were pleased to be able to show their solidarity with French lifeboat colleagues by attending the event.
Dover Coxswain Jon Miell said: ‘We were invited over by the SNSM, who couldn’t have been more welcoming and were a lovely fraternity. Our flanking stations in Walmer and Littlestone provided cover for us while we attended the festival.
This was a fantastic event to take part in, and it is always inspiring to see see how our mission to save lives at sea and respect the water is shared by search and rescue partners internationally.’
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Key facts about the RNLI
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 over 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.