Posted 3 October 2012 by Andrew Gardner
If you've been on or in the sea during your holiday on the Sussex coast this summer, spare a thought for the local lifeboat crews. The RNLI famously speeds to the rescue of stricken ships, but its dedicated and brave volunteers also help a wide variety of leisure craft and all sorts of people, from professional and amateur sailors to swimmers and people whose holiday fun goes a bit wrong. Lifeboats operate from Shoreham by Sea, Littlehampton, Selsey, Hastings, Newhaven and Rye, as well as Eastbourne whose new, state-of-the-art Tamar-class lifeboat, aptly named Diamond Jubilee, took part in the Thames pageant this summer.
Incidents logged for the Eastbourne lifeboat in August included locating a swimmer in trouble - who it seems had a track record in undertaking risky swims; rescuing an exhausted kayaker who had the sense to call for help; finding that a 'floating body' reported off Pevensey Bay was, thankfully, just a log; and helping the crew of a catamaran that lost its outboard engine overboard while in the outer harbour. That happened on the same day they provided cover for the Eastbourne Airbourne and took part in a demonstration with a search-and-rescue Sea King helicopter. The day seemed to develop something of a theme, as the volunteers were later called out to tow a motor cruiser and help a sail-training yacht that both had engine trouble. Thankfully all these incidents had happy endings.
Another incident that day involved reports of four people in an inflatable dinghy appearing to be in trouble. The RNLI crew found them and decided there was no imminent problem, only to receive another call later on from a worried relative. The dinghy sailors were found alive and well, tucking into ice creams on the beach. A little safety advice was dished out to go with them - probably not as tasty as a Flake, but much more useful.