Sunday 25 November 2012

RNLI Southwold 2

RNLB Leslie Tranmer, in action, Southwold

"We're having a tweetup on 24/11 would love it if you came. If you can't make up your mind then how does tea, cake & lifeboat display sound?"

Who can turn down tea and cake?! (and later, the promise of a Sea King search and rescue helicopter putting in an appearance)

And so it was on a frosty and misty Saturday morning, I set off from the furthest inland corner of Suffolk with another Tweep (and blogger) to drive to Southwold on the far Suffolk coast.

Following the shoot I had done during a training session for RNLI Southwold back in June, they asked me if I would again be interested in being photographer for this special open day, which had been arranged for the social media followers of RNLI Southwold. There was no way I was going to turn this down as it was set to be a fun event with sea recovery exercises, a Sea King helicopter and the chance to watch the exercises from a boat.

A boat!
Whilst an ideal platform from which to photograph the RNLB Leslie Tranmer (with suitable camera protection deployed) it was not my position of choice, me being a poor sailor and all that. The fellow Tweep, whom I had persuaded that it would be a good idea to join me on the day, also shared a similar apprehension. Wouldn't you too if you saw what 'boat' meant?

It may only have been an open day at the lifeboat station for the social media visitors but the exercises were to be serious and important training for the crew.

After the launch of the Leslie Tranmer, a few exercises were executed within the relative safety of the harbour area.


Then, it was onward with some exercises out at sea, with the Sea King helicopter also due to take part.

The Leslie Tranmer.
Platform for the lifeboat crew

Coastal Voyager.
Platform for all of us!

Oh my!!


Suitably waterproofed, life vested and loaded onto the Coastal Voyager, which normally catered for thrill-seekers, we had been reassured that this trip would be much more considerate. After all, the helicopter would have to know where we were at all times.
So where was the helicopter?

"They've brewk it!" came the announcement in a broad Suffolk accent. This was the simple explanation from one of the crew, that sadly, the Sea King would be unable to make it after all. Regardless of the real reason for the non-participation, there was naturally a slight element of disappointment.

Gliding along the length of the harbour, past the gull-guardians at the mouth of the harbour, we went out into the North Sea, where the conditions had worsened slightly since our earlier arrival.

The considerate ride was only as considerate as the waves would allow. Coastal Voyager smacked down hard onto the water, sending spray everywhere.
What was I doing? How was I going to fulfil this assignment?

Being close to leaving my stomach somewhere out in the North Sea, I took a deep breath and set to capturing the lifeboat in action, my angle of view limited by the seatbelts holding us onto the 'standing-stools'. Lighting conditions were never going to produce an absolute stunner of a shot either, so I would have to make the best of what was thrown at me (which was frequently sea water!)

Naturally there were shots with gloriously salty, soft focus! 

Then a towing exercise, before making a welcome head back towards the harbour.

My trusty two little sailors helpers had just about managed to do their job, (thank you Stuge & Ron) and these two land-based friends of the sailors did their job by providing the returning party with the scores for the performance at sea!

And what was the score?
My Tweep friend, after her initial apprehension, had had a whale of a time. Meanwhile I was relieved to be back on solid ground and keen to go carry out a spot of delayed chimping in the privacy of my car. Thankfully the whole adrenaline fuelled experience hadn't been a waste (as hopefully this selection of images proves).

Back at the lifeboat station a huge pot of tea was on the go with plates of home-baked cakes, lovingly made by families of the crew. Now that was a welcome sight.

A huge thank you to all those who were involved in the fun day out.
Important for PR purposes and most importantly, for their training.

I am so happy to support the brave crews of the RNLI, who help to keep our coastlines safe and help those in need, often in the foulest of conditions. Conditions, the like of which followed on later in the afternoon, and which would have made the whole morning event impossible.

(My thoughts are with those people, both inland and in coastal areas, who have suffered in the overnight flooding)

RNLI, you have my utmost respect. Thank you all.

So, please do consider giving the RNLI your support now.
Who knows when you might need their help?

All of the images above are available as high resolution prints, with proceeds going to the RNLI.
If you would like copies, you may contact me with your details here


  1. I had thought about joining you, but was unable to do so, so it is good to see these photos. Well done in the conditions you had!

    I, too, give the RNLI my respect - I last came into contact with them on 31st October at Selsey. Wherever they are and whatever type of boat they have, these volunteers who risk their lives for us are just amazing!

  2. Absolute respect and admiration for the RNLI. I'm not sure my stomach would have coped at all, so I am in awe of you coping with the sea and managing to take those amazing photos :-)

  3. Well done for managing to get some excellent shots even though you were strapped to a hard plastic seat on an 'aquatic bouncy castle' while having bucket of cold sea-water thrown in your face*.

    PS: she's right, I did enjoy it!

    * I know because I was there.

  4. Thanks Celia! Lovely to have had your company on the day too ;-)


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