Eight lifeboats meet off Flatholm

Lifeboat crews that cover the
Bristol Channel had to postpone their annual Christmas meet-up, usually held
between Christmas and New Year, because strong winds and bad weather would have
made the trip unnecessarily uncomfortable, writes Nicholas Leach. So it was rearranged for the first Sunday in February, and saw
no fewer than eight lifeboats get together off Flatholm.

On Sunday 3 February the volunteer lifeboat crews from
Burnham-on-Sea, Weston-super-Mare, Penarth and Portishead all met up, bringing
their lifeboats, which were rafted together alongside the all-weather 14m Trent
class lifeboat Inner Wheel II from Barry Dock, on board which they caught up
with the latest rescue news from the area over coffee and pasties. Burnham,
Weston and Penarth each operate two lifeboats, an Atlantic rigid-inflatable and
a D class inshore lifeboat, and all of these craft came along.

Portishead lifeboat, which is independent, operates an
Atlantic 75 lifeboat leased from the RNLI, with the national organisation in
the process of taking the station over. Plans for a new boathouse have been
submitted, and these will involve the former Portishead Masonic Lodge being
demolished and replaced by a £1 million new lifeboat station to house an
Atlantic and launching tractor. A new 65m launching ramp, made out of pre-cast
concrete, will also be built.

Following the meeting aboard Barry Dock’s lifeboat, the
inshore lifeboats undertook a series of pacing exercises with the all-weather
lifeboat Inner Wheel II. This offered the helms the chance to practice bringing
their craft alongside the larger lifeboat safely, a procedure which enables
personnel to be safely transferred between the two craft.