Posted: 17 July 2020

Successful trial of B class lifeboat for Dart Lifeboat station

Photo: Andy Kyle/RNLI
Atlantic 75 lifeboat on trial during a joint shout recently with the RNLI Dart D clas

Great news for the RNLI Dart volunteers.
The two year trial to assess the suitability of placing an RNLI B class inshore lifeboat in Dartmouth has been completed. The trial commenced with Salcombe’s ex Atlantic 75 lifeboat on 9 September 2018, to work alongside the D class lifeboat. In particular the Operational Director of the RNLI wished to be very clear about the frequency and type of tasking requests that are placed on the D class lifeboat that are near the limit of the guidelines for its use and capability, including crew safety factors.
On 7 July Mark Strudwick, Lifeboat Operations Manager for the RNLI Dart lifeboat Station, received a letter informing him that the Trustees of the institution had approved the recommendation of the Operations Committee for the permanent allocation of a B class lifeboat at the Dart Lifeboat Station. Although the trial had not run for the full two years it was proven that the desired effect on lifesaving capability had been met which resulted in an earlier than expected approval.
During the trial the Atlantic 75 was launched at the request of the Coastguard, 50 times, saved two lives and assisted 97 people. She was also launched 114 times on exercise, which highlighted the exceptional commitment of the Dart volunteers. During the same period the D class lifeboat was launched 30 times, saved one life and aided 44 people.
Atlantic 75 lifeboats are being phased out and being replaced by the larger, faster and even more capable Atlantic 85.
The date of the arrival of an Atlantic 85, commencing with one from the Relief fleet, depends on when training the crew how to convert from working on a 75 to an 85 can commence. Training restrictions are currently in place due to the Coronavirus. It is expected that the Atlantic 85 will operate from a modification to the Aquadoc which the Atlantic 75 is currently working from.

Posted: 22 May 2020

RNLI and HM Coastguard launch beach safety campaign 22 May 2020

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Her Majesty’s (HM) Coastguard today (Thursday 21 May) launch a new beach safety campaign, urging parents to protect their families by following key safety advice to save lives this summer.

Following the recent easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions in England and with children still off school, many more people are expected to visit the coast to exercise and take part in water-based activities.

Last weekend alone, Coastguard rescue teams were called out 194 times in the UK to incidents including; inflatables drifting offshore, crashed jet skis, people injured while out walking or cycling along the coast, paddleboarders, kayakers, windsurfers and kite surfers in difficulty and people cut off by the tide.

In 2019, RNLI lifeguards aided more than 29,000 people on UK beaches in more than 17,000 incidents, saving a total of 154 lives.

They also helped to reunite nearly 1,800 lost children and teenagers with their families and aided 346 people in incidents involving inflatables.

Despite the ongoing challenges posed by coronavirus and social distancing the RNLI still hopes to provide a lifeguard service on around 30% of the beaches the charity usually covers in time for the traditional peak summer season. But at present, there are no RNLI lifeguards on UK beaches, and we cannot be everywhere this summer.

Whilst RNLI lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard are still on call ready to respond to emergencies, the message is clear; we need the public to be aware of dangers, take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones and remember that, in an emergency, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, said: ‘If the charity’s lifeguards were present on the beaches today, they would be preventing many incidents before they even occurred by directing people to safe swimming areas, highlighting dangers such as rip currents and advising people not to use inflatables. These preventive measures are not currently in place meaning people could find themselves in danger if they are not reading the signs and following the relevant safety advice.

He added: ‘Our lifeguards are trained to swim 200m within 3 1/2 minutes, and although our volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, they won’t be able to reach you in the same time.

‘It is important that anyone visiting the coast understands that the beach can be a dangerous environment and you must take more responsibility for you and your family this summer. No one ever goes to the coast to be rescued yet RNLI lifeguards rescue 1000’s each year.’

Following key safety advice will keep people safe and help to reduce the demands placed on RNLI lifeboat crews, HM Coastguard and other emergency services.

That is why parents are now being urged to take charge and be ‘beach smart’ if they visit the coast to ensure they and their families have the safest summer possible, whether lifeguards are patrolling their beach or not.

Claire Hughes, director of HM Coastguard said: ‘We know from sad experience that whether you’re local or nor, whatever your ability of experience in your chosen sport or leisure activity, the sea can still catch you out and be unmerciful when it does. Now, more than ever we need people to respect the sea and the coast.
If you get into trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard and we will come to your aid. But coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and we all need to follow the rules. Remember your choices might put people, including yourself and frontline responders, at risk. Take extra care in these extraordinary times.’

This summer with beach lifeguard patrols significantly reduced the RNLI and HM Coastguard are advising the public not to use inflatables at all and for everyone, especially parents, planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow this safety advice:

Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
Don’t allow your family to swim alone
Don’t use inflatables
If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard

Roll-out of the normal seasonal lifeguard service was paused at the end of March due to the measures put in place by the UK Government to control the spread of Coronavirus. With changes to the lockdown restrictions allowing the public to visit beaches around the UK and Channel Islands, the RNLI has been looking at plans to resume a lifeguard service where possible.
This needs to be consistent with government guidance, but the plan is for the service to build in time so that lifeguard patrols reach 70 beaches by peak season.
Beaches will be chosen based on risk and popularity. The RNLI will also look to achieve a geographical spread while making sure the service provided is flexible and sustainable enough to respond to what may be an ever-changing environment.
For further information on the campaign visit:

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and they continue to launch to those in peril at sea.
To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to:
RNLI shops, museums and visitor centres remain shut and all community fundraising has stopped.

Posted: 26 March 2020

COVID-19 - our Statement

Our priority is keeping people safe in the sea and around our coast as it always has been. At a time when emergency services are already stretched we ask everyone to follow government advice. The RNLI is asking everyone to carefully consider the need to go to visit the beach, the coast or go into the water in case they get into difficulty. If you do choose visit the coast the RNLI water safety advice is;

  *   Take care if walking near cliffs - know your route and your limitations
  *   Check the weather forecast and tide times
  *   If going afloat, carry a means for calling for help and always wear a lifejacket
  *   If you fall into the water unexpectedly FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float
  *   In any coastal emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard

Posted: 8 October 2019

Appeals Manager thanked for his exceptional work.

David Hannah being presented with his certificate by Mark Dowie RNLI CEO (Lt)
Photo: Riki Bannister RNLI Dart Assistant Lifeboat Press Officer
David Hannah being presented with his certificate by Mark Dowie RNLI CEO (Lt)

The exceptional work carried out by David Hannah as RNLI Regional Appeals Manager for the South West was recognised at a ceremony at the Dart Lifeboat Station on Friday 4 October.
The presentation was made by the Chief Executive of the RNLI, Mark Dowie, before a large gathering of his ex-colleagues and grateful volunteers from the many stations he had guided to complete their appeals for new lifeboats and lifeboat stations.

The Presentation certificate read;

‘The Chairman and Council of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution wish to record their sincere thanks to Colonel David Hannah OBE in recognition of the great success of the regional appeals for Lifeboats and Lifeboat Stations at Padstow, Exmouth, Dartmouth, Jersey, The Lizard and Looe, raising over £6m. It was through David’s direction that each of the appeals generated such support from their local communities that not only built on the already strong volunteer contribution but surpassed all expectations.
David was instrumental in significantly raising local participation through his leadership and dedication, leaving a legacy of great pride in all the stations.

Mark Dowie.’

David himself wrote the following for the third issue of Dart D’Tales, published in August 2008, little knowing that, 11 years later, the volunteers at Dart would have launched 413 times and saved 12 lives as well as having an Atlantic 75 B class lifeboat half way through a two year trial to see if she should also be part of RNLI Dart.

‘Our appeal for funds to set up our new Dart lifeboat station has been an enormous success.
Not only have we reached our target of £259,000, we have now exceeded it. At the time of writing our appeal fund stands at £282,212. The establishment of our new station has been made possible through the enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers in Dartmouth, Kingswear and Totnes and the generous donations made by members of the public, businesses, charitable trusts, clubs, event organizers and other organizations.

Through our appeal for funds, they have all answered our call for help. The result is a new RNLI facility for saving lives on the River Dart and in coastal waters and for providing sea safety advice through education, which we hope will serve the community for years to come. We are very grateful for all your support.
Our appeal to meet the set up costs of our new station will close on a highly successful note on 1 September 2008. Any residual funds in the appeal account will be used for the operational maintenance of this station and our volunteer crew. Despite the completion of the appeal we will still need your help to fund the annual running costs of the station, which will be in excess of £30,000 per annum. We will need to maintain the boathouse, service the lifeboat and associated equipment and continue to train our crew, some of whom come from a non-maritime background. On average we spend £1000 each year on every crewmember to ensure their skills through training are of the very highest standard and that they are all equipped to meet any eventuality that they may face in saving lives on the water. So the RNLI’s Dart lifeboat station will continue to need your help in the years to come. Your valuable support and contribution in whatever form it might take will mean that we can go on following our proud tradition of saving lives on the water and providing sea safety education.
Thank you.’

David Hannah, RNLI Appeals Manager.

It was a pleasure to welcome David back to Dart and thank him for all his hard work in making the station a reality. 

All the past history of RNLI Dart can be found on the station web site under the Dart D'Tales tab at the top of the page.
Further photographs of the event can be seen under the Photo Gallery tab.

Posted: 31 July 2019

Farewell to D-702 Spirit of the Dart. Welcome to D-838

The crew held a farewell party for the Spirit of the Dart.
Photo: Stuart Millard / RNLI lifeboat crew
The crew held a farewell party for the Spirit of the Dart.

D702 was donated by Caterfoods SW and was handed over to the RNLI by their Chairman, Mike Felton. She was launched on service 327 times. Her first two launches were on the day of her Naming Ceremony, 7 August 2008.
D702, and her replacements when she was away from Dartmouth being serviced, launched 375 times between 24 November 2007 and 10 July 2019. The RNLI volunteers used the Dart D class lifeboat to rescue 644 people and saved 12 lives.

The area covered by any particular launch is decided by the Deputy Launch Authority and the helm of the lifeboat. As well as shouts to go up the Dart to Totnes and beyond, in her time the Spirit of the Dart has been called to a yacht which claimed she was three miles offshore but turned out to be seven. On another occasion a motor boat called for assistance off Beesands and was swept round Start Point by the tide. On these last two occasions D702 reached the casualty and then requested assistance from our flank stations at Torbay and Salcombe respectively.
It is RNLI policy to replace their inflatable lifeboats after 10 or 11 years depending on their use. RNLI Dart has been the second busiest station with only one inshore lifeboat so she certainly qualifies. The RNLI has not yet decided on how she will be used in future. All weather lifeboats often have an offshore mooring a short distance from the lifeboat berth which is used in severe weather. The crew are taken out to their vessel on a “Boarding boat” and she might become one of those.

We are extremely fortunate that the Fuller family, who once lived in Dartmouth, have donated the money for a new D class lifeboat D838 in memory of Mrs Fuller’s aunt.
The Naming Ceremony and blessing of the new boat will take place at 2pm on Coronation Park outside the lifeboat station. The BRNC Volunteer Band will be playing during the ceremony and afterwards. Invited guests will be seated and be given a cream tea afterwards. The general public are warmly urged to attend and will be able to clearly see and hear all that is going on.

John Fenton
RNLI Dart Lifeboat Press officer.


Station address

RNLI Dart Lifeboat Station
Coronation Park
North Embankment
Devon TQ6 9RR

Contacting the Station

The station is unmanned. Find contact details for each member of the RNLI Dart team here.

Send us a message

Visitor Centre address

RNLI Visitor Centre
9 South Embankment (Ground Floor)
Devon TQ6 9BH

Visitor Centre phone number

01803 832423

Visitor Centre opening hours

Due to Covid-19 the shop is currently closed. We will let you know when we will be re-opening as soon as we are able.

Follow Us