Harwich RNLI volunteer battles 45mph winds to complete first service

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteers of Harwich RNLI launched in challenging conditions on Saturday evening with their newest recruit on her maiden service, after receiving reports of people cut off by the tide at Walton-on-the-Naze.

Hollie McGarry on completion of her first service

Harwich RNLI

Hollie McGarry on completion of her first service

At 3.48pm on Saturday 14 January the charity’s volunteers launched for the fourth time of 2023 at the request of the HM Coastguard, after they had received calls regarding two adults and two children being cut off by the tide close to the Naze Tower, Walton-on-the-Naze.

Having been warned during the pre-launch briefing of the conditions likely to be encountered, Hollie McGarry was given the option to either join the crew afloat for her maiden service, or help prepare the inshore lifeboat for launch, as she had done numerous times during the last six months.

Hollie duly took her place aboard the charity’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Tierney, Harvey and Sonny Reid as it made its way to the last known position of the casualties. Shortly after launching, and outside the shelter of the estuary, the inshore lifeboat encountered sudden and violent gusts of wind in excess of 40mph, coupled with heavy rain, which pushed the lifeboat and its volunteer crew to their operational limits. As a result, Harwich’s all-weather lifeboat Albert Brown was launched to back up the inshore lifeboat.

Describing the conditions Hollie said: ‘Even though I had been warned, when the strong winds came, and the waves started getting bigger and bigger the adrenaline really kicked in. I was trying to concentrate on where we were going, but the rain and spray meant I couldn’t see out of my visor properly, and kept having to wipe it clear, while concentrating hard to hear the VHF radio over the wind. What a feeling of reassurance when I caught a glimpse of the Albert Brown shadowing us for the first time.’

After a thorough search of the area by the crew of the inshore lifeboat and their counterparts from the Walton and Clacton Coastguard Rescue Teams the search was called off with nothing found.

The inshore lifeboat returned to station, escorted by the all-weather lifeboat, where it was refuelled and readied for its next service.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Peter Bull commended Hollie on the completion of her first service and said: ‘This is fantastic for Harwich RNLI, seeing another young volunteer complete their first service, I don’t think Hollie will encounter worse conditions anytime soon. Being the 8th volunteer to complete initial training in the last 18 months, the station is in a strong position for the future.

'I can’t thank the new crew members enough for their dedication and commitment to their training, along with that of the experienced crew, patiently parting with their knowledge, experience and expertise, ensuring all crew members are ready for the challenges of saving lives at sea. Which would not be possible without the dedication of our fundraising team, and ultimately the generosity of our community.’

Tips on enjoying the coastline safely throughout the year, for all types of activities, are available at: rnli.org.uk

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI Harwich volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or [email protected],

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641or [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Library photo of similar weather conditions experienced on Saturday


Library photo of similar weather conditions experienced on Saturday

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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