After a period of intensive training at RNLI Dart the Atlantic 85 lifeboat, B-825, was officially recognised as a Search and Rescue asset by HM Coastguard on 28 August 2020.
This means that there are now two lifeboats at the station. The D class inflatable lifeboat, D838 Dudley Jane is housed in the lifeboat station and B-825, Norma Ethel Vinall, is kept on an enlarged Aquadock attached to a pontoon in the harbour.
The volunteer crew and trainers had been using every opportunity to learn more about the Atlantic 85 ever since the decision by the RNLI Trustees in early July that the two year trial of an Atlantic lifeboat on the Dart had been successful.
Mark Strudwick, Dart Lifeboat Operations manager, was keen to highlight that the new boat not only brings increased capability to deal with the situations she is tasked to in Start Bay and for 10 miles upstream on the river Dart, but also is safer for the four crew who are now seated and strapped into a self-righting lifeboat.
Kevin Murphy, helm on both the boats, described having the Atlantic 85 as “Moving us up a league.” Not only does a helm have to deal with increased windage on the boat and power from the two 115hp 4 stroke engines, but also has to keep command of all the tasks such as navigation, radar, VHF direction finding and communication being carried out by the crew.
“A game changer is the inter-communication between the crew,” said Kevin. “All the crew have headsets and microphones and communication within the boat, with the Coastguard and with casualty vessels is far clearer for all concerned.”
Training will continue for all the volunteers, helms and crew, but the area covered by RNLI Dart has just become a safer place to be, on and in the water.