Cruel Sea.


How the sea changes day to day – one day it is a play-ground on another day it challenges the skills of everyone on the water. Yesterday 3 crew died when an all-weather lifeboat capsized 800 metres from the coast around Les Sables d’Olonne France with seven people on board. One charity I support is our Lifeboat service. 




Where the river meets the sea.


At the village of Warsash in Hampshire, you can follow the South side of the river to where it meets Southampton Water which soon becomes the Solent. Shipping (in this case a containership) coming out of Southampton Water have to turn right to navigate around the Bramble bank and is shallow water followed by a left turn and to enter the main shipping channels past the Isle of Wight. You can see how this manouver can go wrong in the link to an old post of mine back in 2015.



On the walk you pass The Merchant Naval Academy which is the only centre of its kind in the country, offering some 150 accredited maritime training courses approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.



The pier head facility of the academy for training houses two totally enclosed motor propelled survival crafts on outrigger davits fitted on a purpose-built steel structure.


There were many Wigeon were on the river. Wigeon is a medium-sized duck with a round head and small bill. The head and neck of the male are chestnut, with a yellow forehead, pink breast and grey body. In-flight birds show white bellies and males have a large white wing patch.

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Old and New.

Historic lifeboats in Hastings. 

“Priscilla Macbean” was built just across the Solent from our home at J S White in Cowes on the Isle of White in 1925. She is a 35-foot self-righting lifeboat. Powered by oars (she had a crew of 8 to 10 men) and a sail this was backed up by a 15hp single petrol engine capable of 6 knots. She saw service with RNLI until being sold off in 1934. After being used as a private pleasure boat. She found decaying in a field until 2012 when she was restored.


Also built by J S White in Cowes Cyril Lillian Bishop saw service from 1931 to 1950. She was also a self-righting lifeboat  35 feet in length she had a top speed of 7.5 knots from her 35hp engine.


Below is the brand new Hastings Lifeboat – Shannon Class boat named “Richard and Caroline Colton” numbered  13-28 next to the boat she is replacing 12-002 the 30-year-old Mersey Class lifeboat. The Shannon Class boat is capable of 25 knots a bit faster than the “Priscilla Macbean”!


Below –  A “silent film” of the beach taken on 18th October.




Hastings new RNLI Lifeboat.


New lifeboat alongside the 30-year-old Mersey Class boat being replaced.



By chance, the RNLI station on the strand at Hastings was undertaking the last few days of sea trials of their new all-weather Shannon Class lifeboat.

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The Shannon is the latest class of all-weather lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet. She is capable of 25 knots and almost 50% faster than the current Mersey class lifeboat stationed at Hastings. She is also the first modern all-weather lifeboat propelled by waterjets instead of propellers.



The Waterjets allow her to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. After her launch, I watched her recovered, it was most interesting watching her run onto the beach at what seemed a fairly high speed.



At just over 13m in length and weighing some 18 tonnes, the Shannon is the smallest current all-weather lifeboat. At Hastings, they have a unit looking like something from my favourite childhood TV program Thunderbirds to launch and recover the boat called the Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS). After being recovered from the beach a turntable in the carriage rotates the Shannon 180º ready for the next time she needs to be launched.





Calling into the harbour at Portpatrick to look at the old harbour and Lifeboat. We happened to stumble on the 911 challenge. (link below)


The challenge is

  • To drive anti-clockwise around the whole of the British Isles
  • Visiting all 238 RNLI  Lifeboat Stations
  • In a Porsche 911.
  • Within 911 hours.
  • To raise £238 per lifeboat station which is over £56,000.
  • To raise in excess of £238 per lifeboat stations (£56,644 total).
  • It will start at 09.11hrs on 23-08-2018 with a planned duration of 911 hours.


For the best part of 140 years, an all-weather lifeboat has operated from Portpatrick’s little harbour.



The Princess Victoria sinking.

MV Princess Victoria was one of the earliest roll-on- roll-off ferries. Built in 1947, she operated from Stranraer to Larne. During a severe storm on 31 January 1953, she sank in the North Channel. Shortly after passing the mouth of Loch Ryan, Princess Victoria turned west towards Larne and exposed her stern to the worst of the high seas. Huge waves damaged the low stern doors, allowing water to enter the car deck. The ship took a list to starboard and at this point, Captain Ferguson decided to retreat to the safety of Loch Ryan by going astern and using the bow rudder. This proved to be impossible, so the Captain then made a decision to try to reach Northern Ireland by adopting a course which would keep the stern of the craft sheltered from the worst of the elements. Around 09:00hrs  two hours after leaving Stranraer a message was transmitted in Morse code.   “Hove-to off the mouth of Loch Ryan. Vessel not under command. Urgent assistance of tugs required”.  The listing worsened by shifting cargo, and more water entering the car deck ship. At 10:32hrs  an SOS  was transmitted the order to abandon was given at 14:00hrs Upon the upgrade of the assistance message to an SOS, the Portpatrick Lifeboat was launched. At 04:000hrs after 5 hours at sea in appaling conditions Portpatrick’s lifeboat as the last rescuer to arrive at the sinking rescuing two survivors.

The search was called off just before 18:00hrs between 41 and 44 (accounts vary) survivors had been recovered from the ship’s complement of 176. No women or children survived. Most of those who got away from the ship did in the ferries lifeboat which was smashed against Victoria’s upturned hull just before she sank.

Monument at Portpatrick .