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About Hamble Lifeboat


Hamble Lifeboat was formed in 1968, as the Southampton Water Inshore Rescue Service (Hamble Rescue), by local residents in response to the increasing number of casualties occurring in Southampton Water and the Rivers Hamble, Itchen and Test (19 deaths in one year).

The RNLI, who at the time had boats stationed at Yarmouth and Bembridge, were approached but had no boat suitable for the area. The nature of the area meant something fast, powerful and capable of operating in shallow water was needed.

Since its inception the service has attended, on average, 100 incidents per year, day and night, 365 days a year, in all weather conditions. Hamble Lifeboat operates in an area 15 miles long and ten miles across the widest point. It is bounded by Lee on Solent and Cowes to the east,and by Gurnard Bank and the mouth of the River Beaulieu to the west. It includes the central Solent, Southampton Water and the rivers Itchen, Hamble and Test.

These are difficult waters to navigate. The Solent has unusual double tides which create strong and complex tidal currents. The Brambles, a sand-bar at the entrance to Southampton Water, adds to the peril for the unwary or inexperienced of water sports.

The Solent waters are among the busiest in the world. In addition to high volumes of commercial traffic, they witness some of the UK's heaviest leisure use. Numerous yacht clubs and thousands of sailing boats are based in the area.

Easy access to the water, a highly populated area and the growing popularity of water sports combine to make Hamble the busiest lifeboats in the region.


As one of eight independent Lifeboats around the Solent area, Hamble Lifeboat is tasked directly by the Coastguard. We are completely independent of the RNLI and receive no funding from them at all. We are funded entirely by donations from the general public and have a fully trained volunteer crew.

The annual cost of running these boats is in excess of £25,000 a year, which goes on fuel, maintenance and safety equipment. The lifeboat station is a necessity for the maintenance side, as the boats are maintained by the Chief Coxswain, a qualified engineer, to keep the costs down.

Over the years, many people have assisted by us in various ways from running aground, engine failure, swamped, dismasted, sinking, or capsized to fire, man overboard and assisting by escorting and medivac. In 2010 we assisted in 140 incidents with 320 persons helped and in 2011 the service was called to 129 incidents and 325 persons were assisted, plus one dog.


As mentioned the next priority for the service, already having two top-of-the-range boats, is to replace our very run down lifeboat station. The current building has no hot water, showers, or heating, nor changing facilities and nowhere to hang safety kit and equipment to dry or a room to store it properly.

Additionally the station is physically too small for the lifeboats. They need to be virtually dismantled to get them into the station. This makes regular maintenance very difficult. There are also no real training facilities and everyone has to stand outside throughout the year when training ashore.

Our two lifeboats basically run in six month shifts, one afloat in service and one in the station for refit. The crew is made up of volunteers who give their time and effort with the very vital support of their families.

In 2008 Hamble Lifeboat celebrated its 40th birthday and things have changed dramatically since we were formed. Water based activities are more popular than ever which of course means that the waters and beaches of the Solent continue to get more congested. With this, and the fact that the regulations for our crew and lifeboats continue to get more stringent coupled with a lifeboat code of practice coming into effect in 2008, there are great challenges ahead. However we are confident we will continue to meet these challenges and look forward to the next 40 years!!!

Our 30 year old boat shed is need of replacement with a purpose built lifeboat station. The new station is needed to support and reflect the professionalism of the crew and to make best use of the outstanding community fund raising effort that has equipped Hamble with two of the UK's most up-to-date lifeboats. Importantly, it will help the charity to meet forthcoming challenges and continue to save lives in the UK's busiest waterway.