Norfolk Lifeboat Rescue
A fantastic service dedicated to helping everyone in distress on the sea and the inland waters of Norfolk
The Norfolk coast is a delight to visit, endless beaches, dunes and salt marshes to explore, full of wildlife, tidal pools, fossils and much more. Wide flat beaches ideal for the kite surfers and kite flyers with sand just ideal for even the most artistic sand castle makers.
You can gaze at the distant cargo ships offshore and wonder at what they are carrying and where they are going and there are all the crab boats, jet skis, dive boats, fishing boats, sailing boats scudding around on the waves inshore ....Idyllic!
If you are lucky and in the right place at the right time you can watch the lifeboat crews practise their launches and retrieves, both the inshore ribs launched from the beach and the even more exciting offshore vessels plunging into the sea down the ramps from the lifeboat stations.
However even the most disarming of beaches and calm seas can present hidden dangers, rip-tides and long shore drift, shallow sandbanks which lurk unseen all of which contribute to keeping our unique lifeboat service busy throughout the year, whether it be saving the crew of a foundering sailboat, a swimmer in distress or lifting a crewman with a broken leg off a cargo ship in high seas.
My family have always messed about in boats inshore and offshore so we regularly donate to the Lifeboat Service - there has always been that little thought in the back of our heads that someday we might just need the Lifeboat to rescue us, so best keep them afloat so to speak!
So far, my only encounter with the Lifeboat service was not because I needed rescuing but because they took my brother’s ashes and scattered them at sea in accordance with his wishes.
Although helping the bereaved was not in his job description, the coxswain was so patient with me, handling the whole emotional business with a calm grace, which totally belied his tough sea-dog image. I was so appreciative of his support, but I hoped that in the kindest possible way, to never have to ask for this kind of assistance again!
Years later, I had cause to think about that coxswain again whilst strolling along a glorious Norfolk beach watching adults and children constructing fantastical sand castles, throwing fetch sticks into the sea for the dogs to retrieve, floating about on lilos and blow up canoes, enjoying their freedom in the sun and sea.
Suddenly the maroons and sirens went off and within minutes, the inshore lifeboat launched into the sea, engines roaring and the boat was streaking off to rescue a person adrift on a lilo who was being carried rapidly out to sea on a retreating tide and who was unable to paddle back against the tide.
All was well and the person in distress was quickly retrieved and returned unharmed although cold and shocked to their worried family. Sadly, sometimes the lifeboat returns with only the worst possible news, which I am sure they impart to the distraught families with the same kind support, respect and calm grace that I experienced.
So come and visit our wonderful Norfolk coast, use the beaches and the seas with joy and freedom but always remember the hidden dangers that can lurk beneath the most benevolent water.
Visit the Lifeboat stations and museums, learn the history of the RNLI, talk to the volunteers and crews but most of all, donate to keep them going, after all you don't have to be on a boat to need a lifeboat, but if you or your family is ever in distress on the water, you can rest assured the lifeboat and their brave crews that man them will risk their own lives to rush to the rescue and save yours.
There are museums at Cromer and Sheringham and Lifeboat Stations in Wells, Sheringham, Cromer, Happisburgh, Caister and Great Yarmouth to visit. To donate online please on the link below :
Some pictures supplied by Happisburgh RNLI and Paul Russell, the winchman on the Cromer Lifeboat.