Lifeboat crews have been discovering what it will feel like to ride stormy seas in a waterjet-powered vessel that “cuts through the waves like butter” during a training exercise in Skegness.
The 25 knot RNLI Shannon class lifeboat took pride of place in the lifeboat station on Tower Esplanade last Tuesday, just in time for the Mersey boat that has served the coast for 25 years to take position by the Clock Tower to welcome Pudsey and the One Show Rickshaw Challenge.
This prompted lots of excitement from the crowd watching, many of whom thought the town’s new lifeboat had arrived ahead of schedule.
However, the Standard can report that the new lifeboat is built and in the water but is currently being “put through its paces” by the RNLI in Poole.
We caught up with the RNLI volunteers during Thursday’s launch and recovery training exercise just before the lifeboat was returned to Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The Supercat hydraulic tractor and carriage produced to military standards that came with it will now stay in Skegness ready for the arrival of the new lifeboat on January 28 next year.
The naming ceremony for the town’s new £1.5million Shannon class lifeboat will take place in April. Named the Joel and April Grunnill, it will honour the man who served the lifeboat for 45 years and left money in his will to the charity for the new Shannon class lifeboat, and his cousin April Grunnill, a devoted RNLI box secretary, who has also donated towards it.
Adam Holmes, of Skegness RNLI, said on Thursday it was exciting watching the crews training. He said: “We have had the Shannon class lifeboat on loan from Scarborough so we can start the conversion and so the coxwain, mechanics and tractor drivers can practice launch and recovery.
“When the new boat arrives in January the Mersey will stay until the crew are trained in search and rescue and then it will sail off into the sunset.
“It’s 25 years old and has served the coast well and done a really good job. But the RNLI are replacing all of the Merseys and at only 17 knots, getting a Shannon is a bit like trading in your car for a spaceship.”
While the crew was on the beach, volunteer RNLI collector April Grunnill was busy in the lifeboat station.
She said: “I went to see the new boat put in the water in September and it really made my day. I’ve been told she’s passed her test and been accepted.
“When the new boat arrives it will have completed my life. Joel and I dedicated our lives to Skegness Lifeboat station.
“It’s wonderful for me.”