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About Southport Lifeboat

 

Southport Lifeboat has a proud and dramatic history, the earliest service, crewed and organised by local fishermen, was saving lives 20 years before the formation of the RNLI.


In the 19th century Southport’s coast was one of the busiest and most dangerous in the country, for more than 100 years the oar and sail driven boats saved countless lives.


The “Mexico” disaster of 1886, in which 14 crewmembers of Southport's Lifeboat and all 13 crewmembers of the St Anne's lifeboat died, whilst trying to rescue the crew of the stricken barque. This catastrophe remains the highest loss of life in Lifeboat history.  


Over time the sandbanks shifted, and by the turn of the 20th century sail was giving way to steam, the Bog Hole channel at Southport Pier, where the Lifeboat was moored was silting up.


In 1925, the RNLI abandoned the Southport Lifeboat Station. In the 1980’s, after a series of tragedies off our coast, bereaved relatives and local people, campaigned to bring a rescue service back to the town.  Amazingly, after only 14 months of the idea being first mooted, the dream was realized.  One hundred and eighty years on, Southport once again had an Independent Lifeboat, paid for with your donations, crewed, and run by the people of Southport.


She was a 6 metre Carson rigid inflatable, originally powered by twin 40HP Mariner outboards, but refitted in 1995 with a single 85HP Suzuki and a 10HP auxiliary engine. She has self righting capability, integral fuel tanks and a top speed of around 30 knots. She was named the “Geoff Clements” after one of the young men who perished in the 1987 accidents and remained on station until she became the reserve Lifeboat in May 1995 when the Bessie Worthington came on station. Delta Power Services at Stockport were happy to manufacture a 6.6 metre RIB to Southport Lifeboat’s requirements and meeting all the necessary specifications, e.g. SOLAS (The international organisation for Safety of Life at Sea).

The boat was originally powered by twin 90HP Suzuki outboard engines. These were changed to 90HP Mariners in 1998. The charity has always had three motors to enable a quick swap should one go down. This means that the lifeboat was rarely off station.


The Delta had full self righting capability. The crew can activate the self righting bag and sea anchor by pull handles on the outside of the transom. Delta were responsible for supplying all the electrics and navigation systems (GPS Radio, echo sounder, EPIRB).

Fuel was stored in 4 x 20 Gallon under deck tanks, giving a duration at sea in the order of 7 hours. Fuel consumption, in a typical mix of getting to a casualty area and executing search patterns, is about 3.5 gallons per hour per engine. There is a double transom that forms the outboard well, rather than the open transom used by the RNLI Atlantic RIBs.

During the years following the millennium we added 2 quad bikes & an ex RNLI D Class to our kit. The bikes are invaluable for fast response and for searching large areas of beach quickly. The D class allows an alternative for searching the shallow waters north of Southport Pier as well as providing invaluable backup to the main boat.

In 2005 a campaign was launched to replace the Delta. We set an ambitious target of raising £125,000 for a Halmatic Arctic 24. By September 2006 enough money had been raised to commission Halmatic to start building the boat. Unfortunately whilst the money was being raised the price had gone up and by the time delivery was made the boat had cost around £140,000. The Heather White came into service in May 2007.

In June 2008 the 2 quad bikes were replaced by new Honda 500cc. At the same time we added mud rescue equipment to our armoury.


The crew, all unpaid dedicated volunteers, are immensely proud of their lifeboats history. The new service has helped rescue over 100 people, three crewmembers have received bravery awards from the Shipwreck and Humane Society.  The spirit and heroism and dedication of the 19th century lifeboat men lives on in the present day crew.


Southport Lifeboat is run by the Southport Offshore Rescue Trust.  Being independent, means that the Trust is responsible for all of its’ own financing and fundraising, it receives no regular Grant aid toward the running costs of the Lifeboat service.  The crew commit their time and effort freely, they receive no payment at all.  

Being a crewmember does not mean “just callouts and training sessions”, fundraising is also a major part of their duties, the crew regularly organise social events and volunteer to take an active involvement in PR exercises, attending Carnivals, and Church Fetes etc. in order to raise the £40,000 needed to keep the boat on station all year round, this itself is no mean task.

Other community activities include, giving tours of the Lifeboat House for Schools, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides, this is looked upon as ‘sowing seeds for the future’, who knows where the next donations will come from, or even the next generation of crew members.


‘Southport Lifeboat is totally independent, no funding is received from the RNLI’
The crews’ training ensures that the boat and equipment are always available for emergency situations.
The crew are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the Boathouse, Boat, Launch Vehicle, and two Quad ATV’s used for beach patrols and rescues.

Due to the corrosive nature of saltwater, maintenance can be very time consuming.  Typically after each launch, the crew can spend between 1 and 2 hours washing down the boat and vehicles.

The latest Lifeboat, Heather White is fitted with Radar, GPS, and a Chart plotter.
Carrying a crew of 4, the twin 135 hp outboards give a maximum speed of 50+ mph and a range of 150+ miles.

Since 2005, the Southport Lifeboat has assisted 20 persons in trouble on our coast.
They have also rescued 28 people.
They have saved the lives of 8 persons and 3 dogs since 2005.
A pretty impressive record

The Lifeboat is stationed in the old Lifeboat-house which was built over 130 years ago, it has no running water or toilet.  These facilities are in desperate need of modernisation, during the summer months, the boathouse is O.K. however, during the winter months it can be a bleak place for the crew to undertake their duties.


We are at present investigating the possibility of relocating to a new lifeboat-house nearer to the sea, this would reduce our reaction times for rescues, and this will also require substantial funds to be raised.


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