Published on April 30th, 2018 | by West Mersea RNLI

Lifeboat April 2018 News

West Mersea Lifeboat news.
by Leafy Dumas, Lifeboat Press Officer. April 2018

West Mersea Lifeboat Station is one of 238 RNLI stations around the UK and Irish coasts. We offer a 24hour search and rescue service to help save lives at sea. Our patch covers the whole of the Rivers Blackwater and Colne, all the creeks, islands and meandering coastline inbetween, and a rough area out to sea between our flank stations Clacton to the north and Burnham-on-Crouch to the south.

We met for an exercise recently and it felt a bit like school. Tested on local knowledge we were put through our paces on spits, sand bars, channels, buoyage (including unlit race-marks and yacht moorings), wrecks, landing spots, vehicle access points for medivacs, holiday parks, slipways, sailing clubs, marina access and VHF coverage. It is crucial we are familiar with all navigable areas (and the bits we can’t get to) at different times of the tide to ensure we are ready for safe and successful lifesaving operations on our patch of coastline. Ady Barker, the Divisional Assessor Trainer for the RNLI, made sure we were.

We have also had a taste of something altogether different, which was an exciting change from our regular timetable of training exercises and shouts (for the uninitiated, a shout is RNLI slang for a call-out). We had a visit from a film crew, veiled in secrecy but too important to ignore so I shall wink and pass on the barest whisper (albeit in riddles), and live in fear of a telling off. But first came a couple of shouts…

Stricken Vessel
Another short sharp shout came the very next day. We launched through murky drizzle just before 5pm on 2nd April to a stricken daysailer calling for assistance off Bradwell. Taking the casualty vessel in tow we took her to safety into the marina. After seeing the skipper and mate ashore we returned to the station.

Exciting Times
It was shortly after these two outings that we welcomed a film crew to the station for an extraordinary few days. We have been asked not to publicise what they did, but I can say that they turned our world upside-down for four whole days. If you’ve held onto your old copy of LIFE magazine, you can find a clue under the same subheading in last month’s article (we didn’t know then that we weren’t supposed to talk about it). All will be revealed later in the year.

Broken Mooring
Back to earth with a bang, and on a beautiful Spring Saturday we launched to investigate a tender spotted drifting off St. Peter’s Chapel by the skipper of a passing yacht. We found the dinghy still attached to a mooring buoy but trailing a severely corroded broken chain. Taking her in tow, we brought her back to Mersea and hauled her ashore. She was marked with a sticker from Queenborough – although we can’t be sure she drifted all the way from Kent.

Stranded Children
No sooner had we cleaned, refuelled and packed up the boat, we were called again to a second shout of that day. Tasked at 4.30pm for immediate launch to assist four children stuck in the mud off Sandy Point on the landward side of Ray Creek near Point Clear. The tide was quite low on arrival so we couldn’t get close. Our best bet was to put two crew overboard to try and reach the children across the mud. Despite our efforts, the children managed to make their own way back to hard ground before we got to them. The Clacton Coastguard team were on the shore to meet them and give them a talk on sea safety. Once all was well we returned to the station.

On Friday evening, 20th April, we launched on our tenth shout of the year so far, and the first ever for our newest crewmember, Matt. We were called to a 23ft motor cruiser reported drifting down the Colne between Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea, somewhere near the mouth of Alresford Creek. Arriving on scene we found the casualty vessel hard aground near Fingringhoe Wick. This was going to be another muddy one. Two crewmembers jumped out of the lifeboat and waded to reach her. They found the vessel well kept but with mooring lines cut and nobody aboard. Anchoring her where she lay to safely hold her fast, the bespattered crew then made their way back to the lifeboat and returned to the station.

Coming up
There is an RNLI Welly Walk at Cudmore Grove at 10.30am on 12th May. This is a Spring walk guided by the park ranger, Dougal Urquhart. Dogs on leads are welcome. Ticket price £5.

Shop and Station Open
Our little station shop and the station itself continues to open its doors to visitors for the summer season. Open on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays between 11.30am and 4pm. Do pop in, come and see our lifeboat and visit the shop. You might even catch a passing crewmember.

Co-op Tokens
A big thank you to all of you who are choosing to raise money for our lifeboat whilst shopping at the West Mersea Co-op. For those who don’t know, you can pick up a green token at the till and choose to put it in the RNLI box. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government, and depends on voluntary donations to maintain its rescue service.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. 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 142,200 lives.

Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland and registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736)

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