Harwich RNLI with Walton and Frinton RNLI rescue 27 seal watchers
27 people had to be rescued by lifeboat volunteers after their tour boat ran aground in the Walton backwaters while on a seal watching trip.
At 1:12pm on 4 June, the pagers of Harwich RNLI’s volunteers sounded, with a request from HM Coastguard to launch their Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, Tierney, Harvey & Sonny Reid, to assist a seal watching tour boat that had run aground in the Walton-on-the-Naze backwaters, with 30 people on board (27 passengers and three crew).
With the number of casualties involved, Harwich’s Severn class all-weather lifeboat would normally launch with the Atlantic 85 lifeboat, but Harwich’s coxswain requested that Walton and Frinton RNLI’s Tamar class all-weather lifeboat should be launched instead - having a shallower draft, making it more suitable for operating in the Walton backwaters at low tide.
Harwich’s Atlantic 85 crew were first on scene, and carried out welfare checks on those aboard the tour boat, while also ensuring the boat wouldn’t capsize as the water retreated.
On the arrival of Walton and Frinton’s all-weather lifeboat, Irene Muriel Rees, the 27 seal watchers were transferred on board, where it was warm and dry. Once all were safely on board, the lifeboats departed for Harwich, with the casualties being landed at Ha’Penny Pier, where they had started their adventure earlier in the day. The three crew members of the tour boat stayed with it to re-float on the next tide.
In contrast to the 30 years average service for the crew members aboard the Walton lifeboat, this was the first service for Harwich crew member Jamie Kemp, who recently passed his initial training and assessments to go afloat. Commenting on his first service, Jamie had this to say:
‘I feel like it was a good start for me, obviously I was with a brilliant crew, and Walton lifeboat was incredible. Glad everyone was safe.’
Peter Bull, Harwich Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘We are very proud of Jamie, for the way he has committed himself to his training, especially through the extra challenges placed on everyone over the last year. But none of it would have been possible without the generosity of the public, and the hard work of our volunteer fundraising team, and shop volunteers, they are truly the power behind every life we save.’
Notes to Editors
The personal protective equipment worn by volunteers such as Jamie costs £1795.00, with annual training averaging £1400 for every crew member.
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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, in a normal year, 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.