New boathouse now fully Operational
Exmouth RNLI celebrated this weekend, as the new lifeboat station was passed as ‘Fully Operational’ by Adrian Carey, RNLI Divisional Inspector for the South.
Adrian announced the good news to the crew on Friday 21st November. He commented: “It was clear to me that all was going smoothly on Friday. The lifeboat crew and shorehelpers are fully trained and confident in launch and recovery procedures and it was a pleasure to inform them of the good news. The main operational change at Exmouth involves launching and recovering the all-weather lifeboat over the beach using a tractor and carriage. This is a procedure that requires the crew to follow safe and rehearsed procedures which I am pleased to say I was able to witness on Friday. I am also now fully satisfied that the excellent new facility at Exmouth lifeboat station is ready to be used operationally by both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats. My thanks go to all who have made this possible and the local support for the volunteers who keep the station going is very much appreciated. The future of our 24 hour availability at Exmouth is now secure.”
Marking the ending of an era, the inshore lifeboat George Bearman left the old inshore lifeboat station for the last time in the old stations 106 years history of housing a lifeboat there. The original lifeboat house in Exmouth dates back a further 100 years.
Adrian added; “The RNLI operates a truly joined up lifesaving service at Exmouth and I am looking forward to our lifeguards making use of the facilities that have now been made available by vacating our previous inshore lifeboat facility. This will now become a much needed Area Support Centre for the life guarded beaches in the local area, further enhancing the efficiency of our vital services.”
Up until now, if lifeboat crew turned up to the old inshore lifeboat station and it turned out the all weather lifeboat was also needed, the crew would find themselves dashing from one place to another. Lifeboatman Robert Thompson who has been on the crew for 13 years commented: “It was sad to leave there in some ways because of the all the history associated with the old station, but to have both boats housed under one roof is going to be so much better.”
He added: “The amount of times we would come back cold and wet from a rescue in the middle of the night, the toilets next door were locked up and there was no shower facilities. With the new boathouse, we will be able to be have showers and make hot drinks – a lot more comfortable, not just for us but for anyone we rescue too.”
As the inshore lifeboat was about to go into the new boathouse on Friday, the crew spotted a kitesurfer in difficulties. They assisted the kitesurfer back to shore. This turned out to be their first rescue from the new boathouse.
Since its’ inception in 2002, the new boathouse has been supported fully by East Devon District Council. Darryl Nicholas, Mayor of Exmouth commented: “We are pleased to hear the new boathouse is fully operational. This is great news for Exmouth as a whole, something the town should be very proud of.”
The all weather lifeboat left its mooring on the estuary and both lifeboats now sit proudly in the boathouse with all crew equipment stored in temperature controlled changing rooms. The mechanics workshop, situated between the two boat halls, now means any maintenance or repair work can be carried out with relative ease.
Tim Mock, Coxswain/Mechanic at Exmouth RNLI said: “It is a very proud moment in my career to be involved in a new state-of-the-art boathouse. To have been involved with the concept, design and build phase was challenging but equally rewarding.”
Kevin Riley, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Exmouth RNLI was pleased with how the day went, he said: “The first phone call I made after Adrian declared we were operational in the new station was to Brixham Coastguard. This was a call I had been looking forward to making. I know we have one of the best boathouses in the country and one the crew and town needed to allow us to be operational 24 hours a day – and provide the service of saving lives at sea 24/7 every week of the year. To have our volunteer crews out of those cabins and into these new facilities is such an asset. All this would not have been possible without the generous donations from the public, whether that be pennies in the tin or tens of thousands of pounds, we should all be very proud of what has been achieved.”
He added: “The official opening of the Boathouse is planned for 2010. No official date has been declared at this time, it’s important for the crew to settle in to the new building first before announcing a date.”