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New Portishead lifeboat house takes shape

The new boathouse takes shape at Portishead Credit: Helen Lazenby

Work on the new boathouse for Portishead's RNLI Station is progressing well and the Chairman of the appeal to raise £180,00 to pay for it says the response from the public has been extremely encouraging.

‘We can’t thank people enough for their generosity and must pay tribute to all our friends from many of the local RNLI fundraising branches in Gloucester, Bristol and Somerset, and further afield, who have all been working flat out and contributing to the Appeal’s success.

Even after extending the Appeal by an additional £52,000, which will pay for the volunteer crews changing facilities, this support has continued and we are delighted to be able to see the target within sight

– Jon Yabsley,Chairman Portishead RNLI Boathouse Appeal
A digger works on the Portishead boathouse construction Credit: Helen Lazenby

RNLI rescue man in yacht from Bristol Channel

A lifeboat crewman was forced to jump into the Bristol Channel to rescue a man whose yacht had run aground.

The man got into difficulty on Sunday afternoon in the strong winds off Clevedon beach.

When crews arrived, there was only one metre of water around the yacht so a crew member had to get out and swim to it to tow it out of danger.

It soon became clear that yacht was in serious danger of being turned on to its side. It was clear that the yacht was now crashing down directly on the sea bed. The volunteer crew had to work quickly and professionally to decide the best way to assist the person on the yacht. This was going to be a tricky manoeuvre for the volunteers.

– Dave Herbert, Lifeboat spokesman

The yacht was towed to Portishead Marina where it was handed over to the Portishead Coastguards.

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ITV tackles a tonne of water to see the power of the sea

The RNLI has begun a "Respect the Water" campaign in the West Country. 32 lives were lost on the south west coast last year and it wants beach-goers and surfers to take more care.

The RNLI shows the sheer power of the sea by challenging the ITV team (and friends) to move a tonne of water Credit: ITV News/James Chapman

RNLI celebrates its 190th birthday

The RNLI is celebrating its 190th birthday. The charity has almost 30 lifeboat stations across the South West, which together rescued almost 1,500 people last year.

The lifeboats have improved significantly since these ones filmed to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 1924!

Lifeboats have made huge advances since these ones from 1924 Credit: RNLI

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RNLI rescue drama at Birnbeck Island

Walkers wade through waist deep water at Birnbeck Island Credit: RNLI

THE RNLI has had to rescue a number of people from its former home on Birnbeck Island in Weston-super-Mare after they got trapped by incoming tides.

The rescue charity recently abandoned the lifeboat station because of safety concerns about the pier.

On Saturday the coastguard alerted the RNLI that a man and his young daighter wewre trapped on the Island. The Operations Manager Pete Holder went to the site and unlocked the slipway gate to allow them to leave.

Caught by the tide Credit: RNLI

Shortly after, while still on the Island, Mr Holder noticed a couple of other people making their way off the Island along the shingle bank causeway.

As these people started to reach the mainland he then noticed two more adults together with two very young children and a dog coming towards the Island along the shingle bank from the mainland,

He hailed them and warned them to turn back as the tide was flooding and would soon start to cover the causeway.

They ignored his warnings and they came across the causeway and up the Lifeboat launch slipway carrying fishing boxes and rods. Once again he gave them a warning about the incoming tide and that as the island and buildings were unsafe they could not stay.

He offered to escort them off the Island via the pier walkway. However they decided to leave the island the way they had come.

On the shingle bank Credit: RNLI

Unfortunately the shingle bank towards the shore was now separated by the incoming spring tide. Despite numerous shouts by the Mr Holder and others to stop and turn back these were ignored and the adults then entered the water with the children on their shoulders.

At this point the very experienced Lifeboat Manager phoned Swansea Coastguard to call out the lifeboat crew as he feared there would soon be an immediate threat to life for all four of the family and dog if they didn't turn back.

The people continued to wade through the ever deepening water which was now running at more than 2 knots across the shingle bank. As the Lifeboat Crew arrived at the boathouse the casualties were up to their armpits and struggling to reach the mainland.

As the Atlantic 75 lifeboat, still housed at Birnbeck, was made ready to launch they just managed to reach the mainland. There they were met by the police and coastguard to be warned about their behaviour.

Pete Holder said;’ Birnbeck Island is private and trying to get to it should not be attempted even by the most experienced. Why do you think the lifeboat crews now only use the island in emergencies?

The tides around the island are vicious, will catch you out and can kill. These people today came closer to death than they have ever been.’

RNLI abandons Birnbeck Pier - full report

The RNLI has confirmed it has stopped launching its lifeboats from Birnbeck pier in Weston-super-Mare. The charity has said the Victorian structure is simply too dangerous.

It was closed to the public in 1992 but the RNLI has continued launching. Lifeboat crews have been based on the pier for more than a hundred and thirty years. Robert Murphy reports.

Grand Design presenter's raft rescued

Kevin’s raft under tow from Burnham-on-Sea RNLI lifeboat Staines Whitfield. Credit: RNLI/Kate Barber

This photograph shows Channel Four's Grand Design's presenter Kevin McCloud and the rest of the team being towed back to shore during the Minehead Raft Race by the Burnham-on-Sea RNLI.

The TV presenter, along with his TV crew, had entered a shore-built craft in the competition and were having trouble in the stiff breeze and travelled backwards.

Kayakers thrown from their boats in Bristol Channel

Two kayakers have been rescued from the Bristol Channel after they were thrown out of their kayaks whilst making the crossing from Steep Holm Island to Brean.

The man and woman had been staying on the island overnight on Saturday and Sunday and were making the crossing this afternoon when they were thrown into the water.

One of them managed to make a 999 call and was able to speak to Swansea Coastguard briefly and give his position before losing signal.

One of the kayaks being recovered. Credit: Weston-super-Mare RNLI

Two lifeboats from Weston-super-Mare RNLI and one from Barry Dock RNLI joined in the search along with an RAF rescue helicopter.

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