It was a moment of mixed emotions when, after crews and supporters of Cowes RNLI bade a sad farewell to the lifeboat that had served them so well for four years, they went on to warmly welcome the brand new replacement.
The carefully choreographed ceremony, enlivened by a commentary from crewman Peter Tarrant, music and loud cheers, was watched by large crowds at the new station, the adjoining Island Sailing Club, and The Parade.
First the ever-faithful relief Atlantic 85 RIB, Tabby Cat, was pushed out on its trolley through the handsome wooden doors of the new boathouse. Waiting on the forecourt was the vicar of St Mary’s Church, Cowes, the Rev Richard Emblin, who gave a blessing and a prayer. With the aid of a winch, the trolley trundled steadily down the metal slipway, with the boat fully manned.The two lusty outboards took the craft out into the harbour where it rendezvoused with its replacement Atlantic 85, Sheena Louise, crewed by other crew members of the station.
Just a week after the new lifeboat station became operational, Cowes RNLI welcomed the new lifeboat to the slipway. Sheena Louise is the the very first 85 class lifeboat to have been built at the RNLI’s East Cowes-based Inshore Lifeboat Centre.
With the lifeboat finally at rest in its new home – what better excuse could there be for a reception in the station? Present were station members, fund-raisers and special guests led by the mayors of both Cowes (David Walters) and East Cowes (Jane Rann). Also present were members of the former independent Cowes lifeboat, including Chris Greenham who had been its long-serving chairman.
Having once served in the building when it was a Customs Watch House, Mark has decorated a wall in the station with fascinating memorabilia of its old role which spanned a total of 300 years. This collection was further added to at the event with the presentation of an old photograph showing the former watch house from the harbour.