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ANOTHER proud maritime milestone has been achieved in Cowes, the ‘home of world yachting’, with the opening of a new replacement lifeboat station for the RNLI.

The extensively refurbished old Customs Watch House, replacing a small temporary facility at Shepards Wharf Marina, is finally operational. From now on the station’s Atlantic 85 RIB will not only be able to respond more quickly to emergencies in the Solent, but be housed under-cover instead of staying out-doors on an air-berth.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mark Southwell, said: “Clearly the volunteers, who make up all the crew and those on-shore, are overjoyed and much impressed with the quality of the refurbishment of the former Customs House and the thought that has gone into making the building operationally efficient.”

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During the days prior to the handover lifeboat members underwent an intensive on-site training programme, under the watchful eye of the RNLI’s Divisional Inspector, Richard Weeks. A key aspect of this training was learning how to launch and recover the lifeboat on a specially designed trolley, using rails embedded in a new metal slipway and a powerful in-station winch.

Although all the training was done with the Atlantic 85 ‘Tabby Cat’, which has been Cowes’ faithful lifeboat for four years, this is due to be replaced with a brand new 85, ‘Sheena Louise’, at a special ceremony on Friday 8 June, at 6 pm. The public are most welcome to view this event from The Parade.


Just 24 hours after the new Cowes lifeboat station next to The Parade became operational the lifeboat was launched for its first ‘shout’.

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Soon after 8 pm on Saturday (2 June) Solent Coastguards alerted the lifeboat that a small yacht with three persons aboard was in trouble in Newtown Creek. The 18 foot boat had grounded in a Force 5 on the lee shore after having engine trouble.

The lifeboat, with Patrick Moreton at the helm, raced to the scene and towed the boat to a mooring close to the local quay. The lifeboat was away from station for nearly two hours.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mark Southwell, said, “This first launch for a real emergency was very quickly and efficiently executed. It amply demonstrated the true worth of the investment and care that has gone into the new station, and the recent intensive training for launching the Atlantic 85 RIB down the new purpose-built slipway.”

Pictures: Nick Edwards

We wish Cowes RNLI all the best with their new lifeboat station. 

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