RNLI Torbay crew in gale force winds

Two volunteer crews took turns aboard RNLI Torbay relief all-weather lifeboat Volunteer Spirit yesterday morning under the expert tuition of Coxswain Mark Criddle to undergo rough water training during gale force northeasterly winds battering Torbay.

Winds were blowing at gale force 8, gusting to storm force 10, during the two training exercises undertaken around a mile off Berry Head. Activities undertaken by all available volunteer crew included rigging fenders in poor conditions, familiarisation with harness locations on deck (harnesses are used to secure crew members to the lifeboat in rough seas) and ‘man overboard’ recovery procedures for Deputy Coxswains and crew.

Seat ‘damping’ procedures were also practised: these are crew seat adjustments (personalised for individual crew members’ weights) primarily intended to protect the occupant from the effect of extreme wave impacts.

Potential injury (especially to the spine) can occur with severe jarring of seats on all-weather lifeboats during wave impacts, especially during the hours of darkness when impacts cannot be predicted by the crew member.

A seat suspension or ‘damping’ system was previously developed with input from engineers, the RNLI and the Royal Navy to optimise shock absorption and comfort and help prevent any such injury.

As covered in yesterday’s press release (link given below) the first session was interrupted by a genuine call for help from ocean-going trawler Holly Ann, which had lost steering and needed assistance to return to port in Brixham.

Rough weather training with volunteer crew, led by the expert Coxswain and Deputies of Torbay lifeboat is absolutely vital to ensure all crew men and women are well prepared for any shout which may come in during extreme weather and familiar with handling the Severn Class lifeboat and her equipment during such conditions.

The Torbay team always aim to take advantage of stormy weather to ensure crew training is kept up to date and completely realistic.

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