Guest writer Mark Fox continues with his series looking at different places of interest on the Island. This issue he examines Bembridge Lifeboat Station.
The summer is a time when many people are enjoying themselves near, in or on the water around the Island. It’s a great time of the year for people of all ages to enjoy themselves on the miles of beautiful beaches or enjoy sea swimming, sailing, boating or kayaking. Often what goes on on the Solent attracts most of the attention but the fact is people are enjoying themselves all along our wonderful coast. For those who are used to living in close proximity to the sea we know how quickly its mood can change and the weather shift from benign to challenging. Being prepared, alert and putting safety first is always fundamental to a happy time.
Vital to the effort of keeping people safe are the RNLI and independent lifeboats that operate from our Island. These boats provide a vital safety service for all who enjoy the sea for fun or for work. The crews of these lifeboats are heroes – heroes who live and work in our community. Local heroes who voluntarily give of their time to serve the community. They deserve our highest appreciation and greatest gratitude.
Of all of the lifeboat stations along our coast it is the one at Bembridge that offers the best visitor attraction. Stationed as it is off the Bembridge ledge it is a landmark visible from the Portsmouth to Island ferries. A reassuring presence to all who are on or in the water in the Eastern Solent.
The record of the lifeboat’s service is impressive. In 2013 there were 36 shouts with 67 people being rescued or assisted. In 2014 there were 33 shouts 62 people being rescued or assisted. So far in 2015, the crew have been involved in 20 shouts and have rescued or assisted 43 people.
There has been a lifeboat station at Bembridge since 1867. It is a well established part of the local community. Today it is housed at the end of a pier, which is a pleasing walk, in a state of the art facility. The centre piece of the visit is of course the lifeboat itself. The boat is one of the largest the RNLI operates and is an extremely impressive sight. You can’t go on board but you are close enough to see how beautifully kept she is by her crew and to feel a clear sense of the power and strength of the boat. To see her launch is to be a witness to a very impressive sight.
Inside the boatshed is a small and interesting exhibition about the history of the station and the work of the RNLI. Often there is a friendly volunteer who will happily tell you about the boat and what goes on.
At this time of year, as we enjoy ourselves in different ways around our Island’s coast it is right to thank, and give support where we can, to all those men and women who make this important service possible.