Weston-super-Mar RNLI volunteers launch all three lifeboats to ensure they and the crews are ready of service.
The RNLI lifeboats at Weston-super-Mare are not all in one station at present. As the volunteer crews cannot cross the Birnbeck Island Pier, except in case of a life being at risk, their main base is now the temporary lifeboat station which has been positioned at Knightstone Harbour. Here, a relief D Class Lifeboat, D 690, has been housed ready for immediate use. The main two Weston lifeboats are still housed on Birnbeck Island in the Boat shed there. It is hoped that in the not too distant future another temporary station can be found where these two lifeboats can be housed until a brand new station is built in the future.
However the Knightstone Harbour dries out and so can only be used for three hours on either side of high water. It has always been intended that if a life threatening emergency arises at low water, crews can go across the Birnbeck pier and launch from there. This was indeed the case one week ago when exactly this happened and Birnbeck station had to be used.
The current position has several difficulties. First the crews are only able to exercise on the relief D Class out of Knightstone Harbour. They cannot go across the Birnbeck Pier for exercise. This means they are not getting the regular experience they have been used to when based on Birnbeck. It also means the two lifeboats on Birnbeck are not getting the regular use so vital to keep them in first rate condition ready for a call whenever it comes.
As a result it was decided that today, Saturday, a special exercise would take place. The relief D Class was launched from Knightstone and ferried all of the crew, including shore crew, over to Birnbeck Island. Once there they launched the two lifeboats from Birnbeck and were then able to spend the morning exercising using all three lifeboats. At the conclusion of the exercise the crews were ferried back to Knightstone.
Mike Buckland senior helmsman at Weston station said;’ We found it a very useful experience. Blew away a few cobwebs and most of us noticed some skill fade with boats, tractors and procedures so it just goes to prove we all have to keep the training up and not forget Birnbeck. Keeping current could just help avoid an accident or problem with a shout in the middle of the night when brains are slightly fuddled!’