Our D class inshore lifeboat is an inflatable, not a RIB. She is powered by one petrol driven 50hp outboard engine and is capable of being manually righted by the crew in the event of a capsize.
The engine is fitted with an electrical start and has a Post Immersion Restart System (PIRS) The crew have to practice restarting the engine of a capsize training lifeboat after it has been deliberately capsized and re-righted.
The D class has night capability, which is a good thing as over 30% of our calls are during the hours of darkness. Navigation lights and a blue flashing emergency light are fitted and a battery powered searchlight can be carried as well as white para-illuminating flares. The crew can also use Night Vision equipment. The D class has modest towing ability but it is common for the Dart lifeboat to be called to vessels over 30ft long and vessels over 40ft can been assisted, depending on the sea and wind conditions.
In January 2018 the station had six helmsmen, nine lifeboat crew and a further six probationary crew. There were also eight launch crew with three additional probationers. All are volunteers.
We are fortunate in having Haydn Glanvill on the crew as a lifeboat paramedic. He spends his life alternating as a paramedic working for the South Western Ambulance Service and volunteering for the RNLI. He has been on the call outs to several of our “lives saved”. The boat is well supplied with first aid equipment and carries an oxygen cylinder. The lifeboat crew are all regularly trained RNLI first aiders.
The pod in the bow is a watertight stowage area where the VHF radio and chart plotter are kept. The GPS plotter eases the task of navigation in a small boat travelling at speed and the hand held radios allow the crew to keep in regular contact with the over-seeing Coastguard Centre, usually in Falmouth.
The boat was built at the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat Centre at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 2008. It is planned that she will be replaced with a new D class lifeboat in May 2019. The boat has nine watertight compartments and will remain afloat even if several are punctured in an accident. She is 4.95 m long and capable of travelling at 20knots for three hours at maximum speed although the crew of three, kneeling in the boat, are probably not.