Posted: 10 September 2020

RNLI Dart’s Atlantic 85 became operational earlier than expected

Photo: Andy Kyle/RNLI
B-825 is ready to go

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.

Posted: 28 August 2020

Dart RNLI gets out for a photo call

Photo: Sophie Rennie

All 3 boats were out for training and Dart's Lifeboat Operations Manager Mark Strudwick saw an opportunity for a photo call. Not that they were racing but it has to be said that the little D-Class is a feisty bit of kit!

Photo: Sophie Rennie
Photo: Sophie Rennie

Posted: 18 August 2020

The Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Norma Ethel Vinall, 18 Aug 2020

Photo: John Fenton RNLI Dart LPO
B825 was taken for a brief familiarisation exercise in Dartmouth harbour after her launch

Today, 18 August 2020, Dart Lifeboat station took delivery of an Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) which has come after a successful two year trial to determine the effectiveness of a second lifeboat in the river Dart.  Approval was granted by RNLI Trustees earlier this year to replace the aging trials boat, an Atlantic 75 with the larger, more modern and capable Atlantic 85. The new boat features an additional 4th crew seat, as well as an integrated communications system, radar and direction-finding equipment to enhance its Search and Rescue capability, along with advanced navigation systems. Powered by powerful twin 115hp four stroke engines, the lifeboat is also faster and more economical than its predecessor, and is also friendlier to the environment.

Dart Lifeboat crew will be undertaking numerous training evolutions over the coming weeks to thoroughly familiarise themselves with the operation of this very capable craft, and the boat will finally go on service later this autumn once the supporting infrastructure is in place.

The photo by John Fenton, RNLI Dart LPO, shows B825 Norma Ethel Vinall, in Dartmouth harbour this morning. There are additional photos of the event in the photo gallery on this web site.

Nigel Jones. S Devon Area Lifesaving Manager

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.

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.

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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.

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