THE remarkable variety of the services which life-boat crews are called upon to perform today is clearly shown in the accounts received from the stations during the spring and early summer of this year and recorded in these pages.
There were the types of service which unfailingly occur : escorting fishing vessels over a harbour bar after a sudden storm has sprung up ; towing in boats whose engines have broken down ; taking doctors to remote islands to perform emergency opera- tions and taking sick and injured men off steamers ; searching for crashed air- craft ; helping to refloat vessels ; or rescuing exhausted people found cling- ing to capsized dinghies and canoes.
In addition to all this an Italian steamer collided off the Sussex coast and the Eastbourne life-boat was called out ; a Danish vessel collided off the Kent coast and the Dungeness life- boat put out ; at Hastings the yacht club's rescue boat was in difficulties right under Hastings pier ; at Dover a yacht was found being pounded against the harbour wall. The Brid- lington life-boat had to escort in the late finishers in an ocean yacht race after a strong gale had blown up ; Caister life-boat took a fireman and pumps out to a leaking tug ; and there were a number of instances of people falling over cliffs, and of life-boats, with their boarding boats in tow, going to their aid. An examination of the services of this quarter give an impres- sive picture of the extraordinary variety of the dangers to human life which may occur at sea.
The only service recorded in this number of the Life-boat for which a medal for gallantry was awarded occurred off the Channel Islands, the winner of the medal not being a member of a life-boat crew but the harbour master of Alderney. The Royal National Life-boat Institution, as a body estab- lished by royal charter, has two primary tasks, that of providing life-boats and all that is needed to make them efficient vessels for saving life at sea, and that of encouraging people who on their own initiative put out in boats from the shore to rescue others. This second responsibility, that of encouraging shore boat rescues, is not perhaps sufficiently well known to the general public.
NEW LIFE-BOAT TRACTOR A prototype of a new tractor for hauling life-boats on their carriages into and out of the water is being developed. This is the Case 1000 model. Trials with a standard machine of this type were conducted at Aberyst- wyth, Criccieth and Hoylake, and its performance on different types of beach was extremely satisfactory. It is hoped that the Case tractor will gradually re- place the existing petrol-driven tractors at those stations where the heavier type of Fowler tractor is not needed. It is fitted with a 100 h.p. Leyland diesel engine, and the transmission is through a torque converter and oil-controlled high and low speed clutches. The tractor will be made watertight to work in five feet of water. Although its power is very much greater than that of the existing Roadless tractors, it is of approximately the same size. It will not therefore be necessary to make any major structural alterations to allow the new tractors to be housed.
LIFE-BOAT SEEN EV NORTH AMERICA A launch of a life-boat was shown in a programme which was a significant and memorable occasion in the history of television. The life-boat was the Lizard/Cadgwith boat, and the tele- vision programme was the first ever tobe transmitted live from this country to the continents of North America and Europe. The programme went out on the evening of the 23rd July, 1962, via Telstar, and reports both from the United States and various European countries, including a number from life-boat societies abroad, indicate that the picture received was exceptionally clear. Apart from a few well-known landmarks in London, the launch of the Lizard/Cadgwith life-boat and only one other item were chosen by the B.B.C. and the independent television companies, which were co-operating in the venture, to represent the con- tribution from Britain to this pro- gramme. This was both a gratifying tribute to the life-boat service as a whole and an indication of the status it has in the public mind.
AWARDS FOR SCOTTISH FISHWIVES Two awards to honorary workers which will certainly give general satis- faction were those of statuettes to two fishwives of Newhaven, Edinburgh.
They are Mrs. Hackland and Mrs.
Listen, and each of them has been collecting on life-boat day in Edin- burgh, dressed in their traditional costume, for some sixty years. They have also collected at the Royal High- land Show. It is in voluntary workers such as these every bit as much as in the crews that man the life-boats that the true and abiding spirit of the life-boat service is to be found..