Surviving the Storms: New book showcases incredible rescues by RNLI lifesavers

Lifeboats News Release

A volunteer lifesaver from Poole RNLI is featured in a brand-new book providing a collection of first-hand accounts of some of the most dramatic rescues carried out by RNLI lifesavers around the UK and Ireland over the past 20 years is now on sale.


Surviving The Storms - real stories from RNLI lifesavers
Surviving the Storms recounts 11 of the charity’s most remarkable rescues from the last two decades. These are stories of extraordinary courage and compassion at sea, providing a rare insight into the life-or-death decisions the RNLI’s lifesavers have to make when battling the forces of nature and saving lives.

From volunteer lifeboat crew members in Scotland rescuing those on board a sinking ship, to lifeguards in Cornwall saving the lives of people just moments away from drowning, this book has an abundance of drama told from the unique perspective of the RNLI lifesavers, as well as those they rescue.

The new book goes on sale on Thursday 11 June 2020, with royalties from all sales supporting the lifesaving charity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said: ‘Surviving the Storms is a wonderful account of selflessness and bravery although there is no book big enough to do justice to every RNLI rescue and rescuer. We have hundreds of lifeboat stations and thousands of crew members and lifeguards all dedicated to saving lives. Between them, they’ve helped so many people survive the storms and I’m proud of every one of them.’

Current Poole RNLI volunteer, Dave Riley, was a crew member onboard Eastbourne RNLI’s Mersey class lifeboat when it launched in gale force conditions in October 2002 to go to the aid of two people onboard Paperchase, a 33ft yacht in difficulty at the entrance to Sovereign Harbour. This incredible rescue story also features in the book.

Working as a team under the command of coxswain Mark Sawyer, the Eastbourne lifeboat launched in darkness and into breaking seas as the yacht was hit by waves and taken off course into the shallows. As events unfolded, things went from bad to worse as the yacht started to sink with two people in the water. One of the volunteer crew, Dan Guy, risked his own life and found himself in the water tethered only by his lifejacket harness as he held onto the skipper to save his life.

The chapter is written from Dave’s perspective and tells of that night’s events which saw coxswain Mark Sawyer receive a Silver Medal for Gallantry and Dan Guy, a Bronze Medal for Gallantry.

Dave said: ‘That night is one I’ll always remember. As we arrived at the yacht’s location I could see the waves hitting it and one person clinging to the mast. They were in real danger.

‘The coxswain of the lifeboat had to make some rapid decisions as we were also batting breaking seas. We fired a line over to the yacht, only for it to start sinking a short time later, throwing two people into the water.

‘Thankfully, both people were recovered onto the lifeboat, cold and shaken, but otherwise unharmed.’

‘I’m proud to see this story featured in the book alongside so many other incredible rescues by the RNLI’s lifeguards and lifeboat crews right across the UK and Ireland.’

The book, which has a recommended retail price (RRP) of £14.99, is available to buy now.

As well as being available to order online from Amazon and Waterstones, the book is also due to be stocked at supermarkets across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda stores, as well as independent book shops and Waterstones stores. It is also available on Kindle, Apple Books and as an audio book.

To order a copy of Surviving the Storms visit

Notes to editors
• Dave Riley is available for media interviews.
• Images of Dave, as well as images of the book, are available upon request

RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Luke Blissett, RNLI National Media Manager on 01202 336497 or [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789. Or contact Isabel Prodger at HarperCollins on 0208 307 4436 or email [email protected]


Volunteer Dave Riley tells of a dramatic callout with Eastbourne RNLI

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 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.