For the first time in over two years, the crews of both Swanage lifeboats and the HM Coastguard helicopter have been able to train together without Covid restrictions, reports Mark Blanchard.

The pandemic made it extremely challenging to keep RNLI volunteer crews’ skills up to date without compromising their health and that of their families. Strict social distancing regulations resulted in a lot of refresher training and best practice updates being delivered online. Even during live shouts, operations were run with the bare minimum of shore crew possible whilst still ensuring the safe launching and rehousing of the boats.

The lifting of restrictions also means that the Swanage crews are hard at work planning this year’s Lifeboat Week in August – a much-needed fundraising event that’s been cancelled for the past two years.

One of this year’s crowd-pullers will be a ‘build a boat’ competition. Entrants will be supplied with a sheet of plywood, a length of batten, gaffer tape, mastic and a broom handle to construct a seaworthy vessel in under four hours, which they have to sit in and race from the pier to the quay.

The Swanage RNLI station, dating back to 1875, is still closed to visitors, but due to the diverse area it covers, the new Shannon-class George Thomas Lacy and the D-class Phyl & Jack – which regularly feature on the BBC’s Saving Lives at Sea – have already had 20 live shouts between them this year.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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