Station News

Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of our Severn Class lifeboat ON17-28, entering service at our Torbay station on 31st October 2001. We celebrated with a business-as-usual joint exercise with the Teignmouth RNLI station.

This is actually a very important landmark in the history of our Torbay station. The Severn class lifeboat has provided a significant enhancement in our capability, enabling the station to extend its cover from a 30 to 50 mile radius reachable within 2 hours. Moored proudly outside our station at Brixham’s Breakwater, she’s also a tangible reminder of the public’s generosity in supporting our mission to save lives at sea.
The boat, ON17-28 (the ‘Operational Number’ on the side), or RNLI 1255 (the RNLI’s official vessel number), was named the ‘Alec and Christina Dykes’ at her formal launch ceremony on 31st October 2001, after the lady and husband whose bequest paid for most of its £1.8 million cost. The remaining funding came from individuals and organisations, as noted on a brass plaque mounted in the wheelhouse.
Following a refit in 2018, she carries two MTU 10v2000 M94 engines, each of 1,600 hp, that enable a top speed of just over 25 knots. She is made from fibre-reinforced composite material whose hard chine semi-displacement hull is built so that she can stay afloat even if 2 of her 5 compartments are flooded. She accommodates a working crew of 7, and is self-righting, which is handy in heavy seas. She is one of only 46 such vessels made by Berthon Boat Company in Lymington, between 1992 and 2005.
Her sturdy construction has not only enhanced the reach of our services but has facilitated our ability to assist in heavy sea, as she did on 13th January 2008 when in force 9 winds and severely rolling, four metre swells, she allowed our volunteer crew to make repeated approaches to Ice Prince, a freighter in distress and listing at 45 degrees at the time, to take eight remaining people off the vessel before she finally broke up.
The Severn class OP17-28 ‘Alec and Christina Dykes’ has come a long way from our first open-air lifeboat, which was launched 155 years ago and funded by the citizens of Exeter after the great storm of 12th January 1866 claimed almost 100 lives. She is one of 458 lifeboats stationed around the coastlines of UK and Ireland, who last year alone assisted 8,374 people, saving 239 lives.
With more people coming to enjoy their summers in the West country, and in Torbay in particular, swelling our population in August from 134,000 to 200,000, and with more people enjoying water sports, we are fortunate in having this asset at our disposal.
As a registered charity, the RNLI relies financially on the public’s donations, our fund raising events and legacies. It’s also contingent upon the commitment and teamwork of the volunteer crews and the performance of our lifeboats and equipment.
As Torbay RNLI’s Coxswain Mark Criddle put it: ‘We don’t perform as individuals. We do our job as part of a team who in turn depend upon working seamlessly with our lifeboat. That’s why we weren’t celebrating our lifeboat’s 20th anniversary on Sunday, but rather taking part in joint exercises with our Teignmouth lifeboat station neighbours’.

Our Second Coxswain Richard Fowler hit the national news when his trawler ‘Rebecca’ caught a 2,150kg anchor in their net. It is thought the “very rare” Trotman anchor from the 1860s, which measures nearly 4m (13ft) in length, could be ‘worth a few bob’ as well!
The Receiver of Wrecks will investigate what vessel the anchor might have come from and try to identify its owner. The anchor is not for sale currently as an owner has one year to come forward and claim it “after which point it will become property of the Crown and it will be the receiver’s responsibility to dispose of it appropriately on behalf of the Crown”.

On the morning of August 10th, our ALB was tasked to assist a 64′ Motor Yacht with three persons on board .. which had experienced an engine failure leading to an engine room fire, 3.5nm SSW of Dartmouth Castle. 0.5nm from Bell Buoy. The slide-show below shows the procedure called ‘rafting up’ which was used to take over from the Dartmouth B class lifeboat to tow the Motor Yacht back to the safety of Dartmouth, then our Crew could relax on the trip home to Brixham. Photos: RNLI Torbay – Stuart White

The return of ‘RNLB Alec and Christina Dykes’
Coxed by Richard Fowler, our Severn Class  ALB, 17 28 – ‘RNLB Alec and Christina Dykes’ made her long awaited return to Brixham today.
The slide show below follows her journey from Poole to Brixham via Lyme Regis and home, firstly to refuel, then home onto her pontoon, with images taken from Marine Traffic, Lyme Regis Harbour webcam, our Sea Tang webcam, and by photographer Chris Slack; all Non-RNLI associated.
Many thanks to Chris for keeping in touch all Sunday afternoon and then finally making a trip down to the breakwater for some special photos.


People often ask what goes on behind the scenes when they dial 999 and ask for the Lifeboat.
CLICK HERE to find out exactly what actions follow at our Torbay RNLI station

After being ‘off-station’ at the Isle of Wight for a refurbishment .. our regular ILB D-788 ‘Leslie & Mary Daws‘ is once again now back on station.

You can watch our ILB launching for a shout earlier today HERE

Video: Vanessa Pope – Non-RNLI individual

Our relief ALB 17 45 passing the ‘Marella Discovery’, with Hms Prince of Wales in the haze 06/06, whilst out on Shout 33.

Photo: David Taylor Photography – Non-RNLI individual

Some action from from our ILB shout number 30 (30/05/2021).
Both engines had failed on this five metre boat and anchor line also broke resulting in the boat being washed in with one person on board.. It had been moored not far from shore and wouldn’t restart.
Both our ILB and the Coastguard attended.

Both our reserve ALB and our ILB were called out today (23/04) following a 999 call from a member of the public. The easterly wind had whipped up quite a sea, as can be seen from the action pictures taken by Pauline Challen – Non-RNLI individual
The returning home image in calmer waters was taken by Alena Egan – Non-RNLI individual

Another great action shot taken yesterday (11/04) showing our relief ALB 17 45 on her away to assist with a SAR shout between Torquay and Teignmouth.

Photo: Adrian Pearce – Non-RNLI individual

This beautiful photo shows our ILB D788, passing the Marella Explorer, as she heads over to Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay in response to a shout yesterday (02/04)

Photo: Graham Windsor – Non-RNLI individual

Yesterday (25/03) saw our relief ALB 17 45 out on a shout to assist a stricken 16′ motor vessel with engine problems.
This stunning photo shows the ALB towing the vessel back into Torquay harbour.

Photo: Graham Windsor – Non-RNLI individual

Sharp eyed spotters will have noticed that there are currently two ALBs on our pontoon – 17 45 (The Duke of Kent) has joined our 17 28 today.
She is a relief Lifeboat and will be going into service tomorrow (22/03), providing cover for our own Station Lifeboat which will be going for some engine repairs.

Photo: Webcam screen grab

Checkout this video (filmed by the pet owner) showing our Inshore Life Boat (ILB) carrying out their 9th rescue this year – one involving a much loved canine friend called “Florrie”..

CLICK HERE

This message from Florrie’s owner:
“Florrie has been one lucky girl with just broken toes!  For a skinny lurcher that’s pretty amazing! Cuts are super grand she has pain relief .Your team is beyond wonderful and I hope after lockdown to get Florrie down to the station with some goodies for the crew!”

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During her recent routine visit to Poole for maintenance, our ALB was lifted out of the water to have her hull and prop cleaned of the usual underwater growth of barnacles and weed.
RNLI Torbay’s Mechanic Ash McInally describes the process: “She is hauled out and pressured washed with any debris being collected in tank then disposed of using an environmentally friendly manner. Our hull uses a vinyl wrap which has a smaller environmental impact than anti foul.”
The following three pictures supplied by Coxswain Mark Criddle show exactly why this is necessary to help maintain her design speed of 25 knots and also conserve fuel.


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Torbay Cox Achieves 500th Shout During Pandemic

“The crew can go without the Coxswain but the Coxswain can’t go without his crew”, so said Mark Criddle when talking about what a team effort achieving his 500th shout had been in a BBC Radio Devon interview with Gordon Sparks this week.   

Listen to the full interview HERE


As one of the RNLI’s most decorated and longest serving Coxswains, Mark Criddle has been involved with 835 shouts and saving 123 lives since joining the charity as volunteer crew in 1994.
Read more here ….

Portrait of Torbay Coxswain Mark Criddle.

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I couldn’t explain to you in words how someone looks, the relief on their faces when everything else in life is going wrong at that point and the lifeboat turns up”,  so said RNLI Torbay Coxswain Mark Criddle OBE during a chat with Jeremy Paxman for a new podcast released this week.

Having read the RNLI’s Surviving the Storms book, among the wide ranging chat the two had, Jeremy wanted to talk to Mark about the Ice Prince shout of 2008 when Mark and his crew of RNLI Torbay volunteers rescued 8 of the 132 metre cargo ship’s crew before the 44-tonne coaster capsized and sank.  Mark, who was awarded the RNLI’s Silver Medal for Gallantry for his role in the rescue effort, said: ‘I’m proud to see this story featured in the book, alongside so many other incredible rescues by the RNLI’s lifeguards and lifeboat crews right across the UK and Ireland.’

To order a copy of Surviving the Storms visit https://shop.rnli.org/surviving-the-storms.

You can listen to Jeremy Paxman’s podcast featuring Mark Criddle, on Acast, Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcast content.

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