New helm for Fowey RNLI lifeboat crew
On Monday October 3, James Dowrick passed out as a qualified helm, fully trained to take command of Fowey RNLI’s D class inshore lifeboat, Olive Three.
James works as an electrician for his family’s electrical contracting business and was recently promoted to operations director. Since joining Fowey lifeboat station as a volunteer crew member in May 2019 however, much of his spare time has been spent training to save lives at sea.
James said: ‘I’ve always enjoyed being on the sea through my life-long hobby of sailing. From a young age, whilst out sailing in St. Austell Bay I would always be in awe of watching the “big orange boat” steam around the corner and always think to myself that I would like to do that one day, little did I know that I would go on to be one of the stations inshore lifeboat helms.
Weekly RNLI training exercises focus on teamwork, technical competence and safe operating procedures covering everything from boat-handling, search and rescue, and navigation, to radar training, radio communications and casualty care. James commented: ‘The training I have enjoyed most is the scenario-based training with one of our station’s LTA’s. This type of training is great for trainee helms and the crew alike because it allows you to work through the processes as a team to ensure the best outcome.’
With a top speed of 25 knots, Fowey’s D class lifeboat can endure 3 hours at sea at this speed on search and rescue missions – a crucial factor when lives are at risk. The inshore lifeboat can access areas inaccessible to Fowey’s all-weather lifeboat, such as close to cliffs, rocks and inside caves and it will be James’s job to make sure everyone who goes out to sea returns to shore safely.
Being part of the lifeboat crew is about more than just training and time out at sea however, its a way of life. As James says: ‘There is so much to enjoy, but what I value most about being on the lifeboat crew is the lifestyle that it gives you, we are like one big family. We spend a lot of time together, whether that be at training, wakeboarding, BBQing on the beach and even playing basketball at the local sports hall. We put our lives in each other’s hands at times so spending time together is a great way to build the trust needed. You also get to experience some pretty cool stuff, like exercising with the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter and going on training courses at the lifeboat college in Poole. The opportunities are endless, and you really do get out what you put in.’
‘My best moment was definitely my operational pass-out, I was somewhat apprehensive in the days leading up but when the evening came, I managed to get into the zone and really embrace the experience and when the assessor announced in the crew room that I had passed, that was a really proud moment. Also, the celebratory pint with some fellow crew members the following evening was a great moment to thank them for all of their input throughout my training.
My worst moment is probably when I fell over whilst running to a shout and having to take a few weeks off the crew due to the injuries sustained. It was a 5am shout on August Bank Holiday, still a little sleepy I donned some clothes and rushed out the door, except I forgot to tie my shoelaces and crashed to the floor like a sack of spuds whilst running to my car. To this day, my crew mates have not let me forget about it.
Asked how he feels when the pager goes off James said: ‘There’s always a huge rush of adrenalin, this is probably the result of the unknown, because you never quite know what sort of shout it’s going to be until you get to the station.’
Fowey Coxswain, Jonathan Pritchard said: ‘Since 2017 Fowey’s volunteer lifeboat crew have saved 17 lives and aided 400 people in trouble at sea, during a total of 214 launches of our all-weather lifeboat and inshore D class lifeboat. James has personally attended 107 training and live lifeboat launches, clocking up a total of over 284 volunteer hours at sea during this time. James has worked very hard to complete his training and I, along with everyone at the station would like to congratulate him on his achievement as a fully passed out D class helm.’
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.
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