Whilst waiting for some films to be processed, I used part of the time to have a walk along the seafront, and although I've walked past the lifeboat station several times before I didn't realise that it was open to the public...until this particular day. Never one to miss a photo opportunity, I went in!
Not part of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), Sidmouth Lifeboat is independantly ran and is maintained purely by donations and local volunteers.
There is no slipway from the station, therefore the lifeboat is taken to the beach along the road on it's trailer hooked up to the tractor. The tractor 'Dozer Blade' is then reversed onto the beach and into the sea until the lifeboat can safely be launched. The tractor tyres are filled with water instead of air to give it better traction on the beach as well as reducing buoyancy when in the sea. Hydraulic lifting gear enables the trailer to navigate the pebble ridges on the beach without damaging the lifeboat. This also allows lifting of the lifeboat onto the turntable for rotation in readiness for the next 'shout'.
An RNLI Station once operated in Sidmouth from 1869 until 1912, when it became no longer viable and the service was withdrawn. Coverage then came from the RNLI stationed at Exmouth and Lyme Regis. However, in 1968 students from the local secondary school formed a surf life saving organisation, which was the beginning of today's Sidmouth Lifeboat Service.
The lifeboat 'Pride of Sidmouth', is an Arctic 24 self righting Rigid Inflatable Inshore boat. With powerful 2 x 150hp outboard motors, it can reach speeds up to 45 knots, carrying a 4 man crew as well as room for survivors. The deep 'V' hull design and a forward ballast tank makes the lifeboat extremely capable during rough conditions, ensuring a safer and smoother ride at high speeds.
Once launching has commenced, the tractor and trailer are made ready for recovery by raising two stanchions and fitting a net between them. This enables the lifeboat to be 'caught' by the net when it drives into the trailer, making it a fast and safe method, especially when casualties need medical attention. Once aboard, the hydraulics raise the trailer, the lifeboat is lifted from the water and taken back up and off the beach.
The whole system of the lifeboat launch and recovery is extremely innovative and fascinating, and I've only given a taster of it and the station history here. For more in-depth information, including diagrams and photos of it in action, please take a look at their website. Link below...http://www.sidmouthlifeboat.org.uk/
Not much variation in my photos, so I've added one of the roof joists! ;)
And finally, another view of the lifeboat but this time looking towards the entrance of the housing.
These and a couple more can also be seen in the Photo Gallery album.