Leisure sailing boats world-wide went through an amazing explosion in numbers during the 20th Century and that explosion continues unabated in this century - but it is doubtful that this would have occurred if rescue facilities had not also increased dramatically. Britain's Royal National Lifesaving Institution (RNLI) have announced their numbers for 2012, showing that almost 8,000 people were rescued during the year.
Tobermory volunteers crew training on board the all-weather lifeboat
RNLI Operations Director, Michael Vlasto, says: ‘The figures show that our volunteers dedicate a huge amount of their time to saving lives at sea. To know that they are on call 24/7, every day of the year is reassuring for all of us who venture out to sea around the UK and Ireland.
RNLI Port Isaac volunteers to the rescue - photo by RNLI Nathan Williams-Large
'And it’s not just our crew who are committed to our charity - they wouldn’t be able to carry out their lifesaving work without the incredible generosity of the public and I would like to say a huge 'thank you' to all those who support the RNLI, whether by giving up their time or by making a donation.’
2012 saw RNLI lifeboats launch 8,321 times around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland, rescuing 7,912 people. About half of these rescues were of recreational craft - sailing, powerboats and non-motorized vessels. This was separate from the charity’s lifeguards, who responded to 14,519 incidents and helped 16,414 people on beaches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team had their busiest year on record, deploying 12 times to flooding in England, Wales and Ireland.
Weymouth and the Olympics:
Last year the RNLI launched a lifeboat, on average, 23 times a day and the charity’s volunteer crew spent a collective 67,352 hours at sea on service – that’s over 7 years in total. Weymouth lifeboat station volunteers spent the longest combined time at sea – 2,980 hours – and this was probably due to increased need for search and rescue cover to ensure the safety of visitors in Weymouth for the Olympics.
Busiest lifeboat station:
Tower lifeboat station on the Thames was the busiest with 499 launches, while Southend-on-Sea was the busiest coastal lifeboat station with 137 launches.
The overall launches are down by 7% from the 8,920 launches in 2011. With the Met Office reporting that 2012 was the second wettest year for the UK since records began, this slight drop in launches is probably due to the poor summer weather discouraging sailors and boaters.
Michael Vlasto continues: ‘2012 has been an impressive year for our volunteer crews, lifeguards and Flood Rescue Team. There have been three lifeboat services – at Dungeness, Anstruther and Port Isaac – recognised with RNLI Gallantry Medals and the Flood Rescue Team have had their busiest year to date.’
Key RNLI figures in 2012:
• RNLI lifeboats launched 8,321 times
• RNLI lifeboats rescued 7,912 people
• RNLI lifeguards responded to 14,519 incidents
• RNLI lifeguards assisted 16,414 people
• The RNLI Flood Rescue Team deployed 12 times
• 4,073 (49%) lifeboat launches were to recreational craft
• 798 (10%) lifeboat launches were to commercial craft (fishing boats and other commercial vessels)
• 1,489 (18%) lifeboat launches were to boats with mechanical failure
• Tower lifeboat station had the most launches overall and the most for an inshore lifeboat
• Southend-on-Sea had the most launches for a coastal lifeboat station
• The two new RNLI stations, Leverburgh and Lough Ree, had 11 and 14 launches respectively.
About the services of the RNLI:
• The RNLI provides a 24/7 search and rescue service every day of the year to 100 nautical miles out from the coast of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. HM Coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard initiate and co-ordinate civil maritime search and rescue (SAR) in the UK and Irish SAR regions from Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC). During maritime emergencies on cliffs, beaches, the shoreline or at sea both of these authorities call on RNLI lifeboats and/or lifeguards, which are declared search and rescue assets. The RNLI responds within agreed criteria.
• The RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team is made up from RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers and staff who undergo additional specialist swift-water rescue training. They are supported by Toolstation.
• 95% of the RNLI’s crew members are volunteers. The RNLI has 4,600 volunteer crew members, 3,000 volunteer shore crew and station management, 35,000 volunteer fundraisers and, of its 900 lifeguards, 120 are volunteers.