Penlee Lifeboat – The First 200 Years Extract

<h3>Extract from Penlee Lifeboat – The first 200 years<h3/>

“The distances from shore were never very great, just a few yards in some cases, but disproportionately dangerous. Wrecks were nearly always stuck amongst the breakers, where steep and unpredictable waves stood the boats virtually on end. Launching a two-ton lifeboat together with its 13 crew ready at the oar, from a heavy trailer in soft sand required a huge amount of effort, strength and skill from the launching party, in real danger of being swept away themselves …

Once the lifeboat was under way she was fully exercised in keeping her bows up to the weather, pulling when able in the cresting seas. But the greatest hazards awaited her when ‘on scene’. The lifeboat had to negotiate not only the surrounding rocks but also the ropes, rigging, timbers and possibly cargo from the wreck which would be tossing in the water. As she closed with the casualty the nearside oars would have to be shipped, losing at once half her power and manoeuvrability at the crucial moment. All co-ordination of the oarsmen would have to be instant and precise, on the orders of the coxswain as shouted above the rain, wind and crashing surf, sometimes in near pitch darkness. Add to this the long exposure of the crew, drenched to the skin, often in the middle of winter, and it is easy to see why some of these rescues still rate as classics of the lifeboat service, and indeed in the general record of man’s humanity to man.”

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