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 .






The Russian cruiser Varyag Memorial.


I had to stop as we passed this striking memorial, yes I had seen it before and post pictures before but a good layby with sea views and a chance for a cup of tea not to be missed.


This memorial to the Russian cruiser “Varyag” can be found in Lendalfoot, out to sea from the memorial is where the ship sank in 1920.


The Varyag was built in Philadelphia for the Russian Navy, she achieved fame when she battled five Japanese cruisers at the opening of the Russo-Japanese war. When the hopelessness of the battle became apparent, she was scuttled rather than surrender her flag.


Raised by the Japanese the Varyag passed from Japanese back to Russian hands and was finally seized by Britain after the collapse of the Russian government to communism. Caught in a storm just off the coast from Lendalfoot the ship was sunk for its second and final time.


706 lives saved at sea.


In our village cemetery at West End near Southampton there is the Grave of Sir Arthur Henry Rostron after retiring from a life at sea he lived in the village at Holmecraft. He died of pneumonia on 4th November 1940. His funeral took place at the village church.


In my opinion, it is a shame the grave is in quite a poor state.

He had started his life at sea at the age of 13. In 1912 he was the Captain of RMS Carpathia, a transatlantic passenger steamer owned by Cunard. RMS Carpathia was built-in 1903. In April 1912, she was to become famous.


Her wireless operator, late on the night of 14th April picked up a distress signal, from The  SS Titanic stating that she had struck ice and was in need of immediate assistance.

He took the message to the Carpathia’s bridge, where the officers on watch were sceptical about the seriousness of the distress call. The message was rushed down to the captain’s cabin where Captain Rostron was asleep. He immediately “gave the order to turn the ship around”

Captain Rostron  ordered the ship’s heating and hot water cut off in order to make as much steam as possible available for the engines and had extra lookouts on watch to spot ice The Carpathia messaged the Titanic they were “coming as quickly as possible and expect to be there within four hours.” Carpathia reached the edge of the ice field by 02:45hrs, on the 15th and for the next two hours dodged icebergs as small sheets of ice ground along the hull plates. She arrived at the sinking site at 04:00hrs approximately an hour and a half after the Titanic went down. The distance to the sinking site was 58 nautical miles and had taken the Carpathia three and a half hours to reach the spot. The Carpathia saved 706 souls from the Titanic no other crew or passengers were saved, 1503 people died.

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In 1913 Captain Rostron received the Congressional Gold Medal from the USA. This was just one of his many awards and medals for his action on that night. In July 1926 he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE). 

He served at sea through WWI. Although he was not the captain at the time the Carpathia was sunk in July 1918 by U-55.