Clacton and Walton Lifeboats

tillergirl

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My initial thought is 'that's a disaster'. The Walton boat spends much of its time towing disabled yachts and reaching out into the middle of the Estuary. We have seen the Tamar responding at the SW Sunk towing a 35-40 yacht to Brightlingsea after rudder troubles: on another occasion Gladys and I saw a large yacht (40+?) from the nether regions of the Barrow Deep probably to the same place. A D class wouldn't be able to handle that. Yes, of course a Shannon at Clacton can do that which is handy for the examples I quoted but it seems a bit of a big gap north of Clacton. Southwold is an Atlantic.
 

Juan Twothree

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Yes, of course a Shannon at Clacton can do that which is handy for the examples I quoted but it seems a bit of a big gap north of Clacton. Southwold is an Atlantic.

There are also all weather lifeboats at Harwich and Aldeburgh.

The distance between Clacton and Walton may seem a long way if you're beating in a yacht, but it's nothing in an ALB at 25 knots.
 

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AntarcticPilot

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kwb78

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Seems bizarre when the general public is allowed to wander up and down the pier to their heart's content!

When I walked along it this summer it was blocked off half way along. I think the condition of the deck is not that great towards the end where the lifeboat is moored. The new owners seem to be spending quite a bit of money on it, but it seemed to be mainly concentrated on turning the shore end into a (more) massive amusement arcade, so I don’t know whether the rest is likely to get restored.
 

ianc1200

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Re depth of feeling about this - posted by the Walton & Frinton Lifeboat Campaign in last few days;

Following the end of a frankly dreadful year for Walton & Frinton’s lifeboat station, it’s with despondency and disbelief that we have news of even more senseless RNLI decision-making entering 2024.
Following a letter written by Philip Oxley (the Station Chairman), to the Chair of the RNLI Trustees and copied to the various RNLI staff involved with the decisions made about Walton & Frinton, Philip was invited to meet Ross Barraclough (Head of the North & East Region) on the 21st December.
Philips's previous letters can be found in full on this page in a post dated September 11th, but we’ve included the letter sent in December in this post for the sake of complete openness.
Rather than the meeting being to discuss any of the issues raised or examine any of the outstanding matters from previous communications, the message was in short that he could (a) resign from his role with the RNLI or (b) the charity would stand him down (in effect sack him as a volunteer). Understandably Philip has chosen not to resign and as a result, was stood down from his RNLI role with immediate effect and with no recourse to appeal.
Philip has been a volunteer at Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station since 1965, joining at the age of 17. His continuous service since then covers roles as a launcher, head launcher, Honorary Secretary/Lifeboat Operations Manager and Station Chairman. 57 years of unbroken service to the RNLI in a voluntary capacity as a key individual in the lifeboat station's 140-year history.
In contrast, Mr Barraclough was recruited into the RNLI in September 2022 from the renewables energy sector but evidently knows better about the issues Philip was highlighting. Amongst the reasons for Philip’s dismissal highlighted at the meeting were:
• His disrespect for the RNLI as an organisation. An odd claim given his 57 years of involvement! It would seem if you do not agree with the decisions of the organisation, you cannot question them.
• Open criticisms of the current RNLI Chief Executive. Philip has only pointed out facts directly related to the issues at our town’s lifeboat station. Mr Barraclough’s response was to point out that he wasn’t at the meetings where these things were said. Does that mean if you don’t witness something it hasn’t happened?
• Philip's lack of support for the RNLI and criticisms being sent on RNLI letterhead to the individuals he has contacted, and the inflammatory tone of his letters not reflecting the RNLI’s core values. Again, it would seem standing up for the station you have given half your life to, and supporting your core volunteers and the concerns of the local community is not an activity a lifeboat station chair should be involved in!
As has been the RNLI’s strategy since the date of the original announcement about the changes to lifeboat cover and the downgrading of the Walton & Frinton All-Weather-Tamar Lifeboat to the smallest type in the form of the inflatable 16ft, D-Class vessel, the charity continually refuses to engage with individuals, groups or communities, and will not directly address any of the concerns or questions raised to them.
An approach that has also been taken at the stations of Aldeburgh and Arbroath which are also going through major restructuring.
Currently, the Walton Lifeboat remains and is based from the backwaters mooring at Titchmarsh Marina, which is a less-than-optimal positioning as everyone local is aware. Unfortunately, following damage sustained to the pier partly through lack of maintenance by the RNLI since the 2018 removal of access to the volunteer crew and shore team, the berth needs 4 broken wavebreak screens removed for assessment. This will leave the inner berth completely exposed to the potential poor weather of February and the spring.
Apparently, only at this point will the decision be made on whether it is cost-effective for the RNLI to undertake the significant repairs needed to allow the lifeboat to return to the seafront for the remainder of its finite time in Walton, or continue to sit at the marina.
You may draw your own conclusion on that conundrum!
2023 has been a disaster for lifeboating in Walton. We have seen the serving Lifeboat Operations Manager ‘sacked’, the long-standing coxswain and other vastly experienced crew ‘retire’ to support their colleagues and register their dissatisfaction at the decisions of the RNLI and now here in early 2024 we find out about the dismissal of a man who has been a keystone to the successful operation of this station in recent decades.
Bravo RNLI management! You ignore your own volunteers, the community and basic facts at your own peril.

Understand there's been a big drop in donations to the RNLI.
 

Juan Twothree

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Re depth of feeling about this - posted by the Walton & Frinton Lifeboat Campaign in last few days;

Following the end of a frankly dreadful year for Walton & Frinton’s lifeboat station, it’s with despondency and disbelief that we have news of even more senseless RNLI decision-making entering 2024.
Following a letter written by Philip Oxley (the Station Chairman), to the Chair of the RNLI Trustees and copied to the various RNLI staff involved with the decisions made about Walton & Frinton, Philip was invited to meet Ross Barraclough (Head of the North & East Region) on the 21st December.
Philips's previous letters can be found in full on this page in a post dated September 11th, but we’ve included the letter sent in December in this post for the sake of complete openness.
Rather than the meeting being to discuss any of the issues raised or examine any of the outstanding matters from previous communications, the message was in short that he could (a) resign from his role with the RNLI or (b) the charity would stand him down (in effect sack him as a volunteer). Understandably Philip has chosen not to resign and as a result, was stood down from his RNLI role with immediate effect and with no recourse to appeal.
Philip has been a volunteer at Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station since 1965, joining at the age of 17. His continuous service since then covers roles as a launcher, head launcher, Honorary Secretary/Lifeboat Operations Manager and Station Chairman. 57 years of unbroken service to the RNLI in a voluntary capacity as a key individual in the lifeboat station's 140-year history.
In contrast, Mr Barraclough was recruited into the RNLI in September 2022 from the renewables energy sector but evidently knows better about the issues Philip was highlighting. Amongst the reasons for Philip’s dismissal highlighted at the meeting were:
• His disrespect for the RNLI as an organisation. An odd claim given his 57 years of involvement! It would seem if you do not agree with the decisions of the organisation, you cannot question them.
• Open criticisms of the current RNLI Chief Executive. Philip has only pointed out facts directly related to the issues at our town’s lifeboat station. Mr Barraclough’s response was to point out that he wasn’t at the meetings where these things were said. Does that mean if you don’t witness something it hasn’t happened?
• Philip's lack of support for the RNLI and criticisms being sent on RNLI letterhead to the individuals he has contacted, and the inflammatory tone of his letters not reflecting the RNLI’s core values. Again, it would seem standing up for the station you have given half your life to, and supporting your core volunteers and the concerns of the local community is not an activity a lifeboat station chair should be involved in!
As has been the RNLI’s strategy since the date of the original announcement about the changes to lifeboat cover and the downgrading of the Walton & Frinton All-Weather-Tamar Lifeboat to the smallest type in the form of the inflatable 16ft, D-Class vessel, the charity continually refuses to engage with individuals, groups or communities, and will not directly address any of the concerns or questions raised to them.
An approach that has also been taken at the stations of Aldeburgh and Arbroath which are also going through major restructuring.
Currently, the Walton Lifeboat remains and is based from the backwaters mooring at Titchmarsh Marina, which is a less-than-optimal positioning as everyone local is aware. Unfortunately, following damage sustained to the pier partly through lack of maintenance by the RNLI since the 2018 removal of access to the volunteer crew and shore team, the berth needs 4 broken wavebreak screens removed for assessment. This will leave the inner berth completely exposed to the potential poor weather of February and the spring.
Apparently, only at this point will the decision be made on whether it is cost-effective for the RNLI to undertake the significant repairs needed to allow the lifeboat to return to the seafront for the remainder of its finite time in Walton, or continue to sit at the marina.
You may draw your own conclusion on that conundrum!
2023 has been a disaster for lifeboating in Walton. We have seen the serving Lifeboat Operations Manager ‘sacked’, the long-standing coxswain and other vastly experienced crew ‘retire’ to support their colleagues and register their dissatisfaction at the decisions of the RNLI and now here in early 2024 we find out about the dismissal of a man who has been a keystone to the successful operation of this station in recent decades.
Bravo RNLI management! You ignore your own volunteers, the community and basic facts at your own peril.

Understand there's been a big drop in donations to the RNLI.
I don't know the ins and outs of what said what to whom, but it's a fact that people can understandably get very agitated and emotional when something they hold dear to their heart is threatened with being taken away from them.

It doesn't matter how long someone has served the station or the strength of feeling that has been stirred up in the local community, the sad fact is that Walton Lifeboat doesn't have a viable home.

The pier is falling apart, and any repairs, whilst being very costly, would only be temporary. Plus the RNLI doesn't even own the pier, so it is somewhat ingenuous to state that it's lack of maintenance by the RNLI that has caused the current situation.

Whitst the lifeboat could stay where it's currently moored in Titchmarsh Marina, it takes nearly half an hour to reach the open sea, at which point it is only a couple of miles from Harwich, where another ALB is stationed.

The only solution for an ALB in the area is a carriage-launched Shannon, but sadly there isn't any suitable land on Walton seafront, hence the decision to put a Shannon at the existing station at Clacton instead. Clacton is only 6 miles from Walton, about 15 minutes steaming time at 25 knots.

However Walton will still have a 25 knot D class, ideal for immediate life-saving jobs such as swimmers, paddle boarders, sailing dinghies and small yachts.

There is a certain irony I suppose that Clacton lifeboat itself used to be stationed at the end of Clacton pier, but also had to find a new home for similar reasons.

The difference being that at Clacton there was a suitable piece of land on which to build a new enlarged station.
 

Aquaboy

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I don't think we appreciate our piers in this country, think of the number around that are closed off to the public or shortened.
 

Juan Twothree

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I've always thought it odd to have two all-weather lifeboats based so close together.
Many lifeboat stations date from the time when boats were rowed, so having stations 4 or 5 miles apart, especially in the days of large fishing fleets, wasn't unreasonable.

Even 40 years ago, most ALBs only did 8 or 9 knots, but once the faster boats started appearing, it was inevitable that there would be some changes.

It's very unusual for a station to totally close, usually it's just an ILB replacing a big boat. ILBs do nearly all of the actual life saving jobs in any case, and are much faster to launch than an ALB. ALBs tend to save boats rather than people.
Clacton itself had an ALB up until 1984, when it was replaced by an Atlantic.

For many years Walton was the only all weather lifeboat to be kept moored on the open sea, although whenever the weather was bad it had to be moved to a mooring in the Walton Channel, (so not too far from where it is permanently based now).

It was only in 2005 that they built the wave break and berth at the end of Walton Pier.
 
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dunedin

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I've always thought it odd to have two all-weather lifeboats based so close together.
Yes, up where I often sail the nearest lifeboat station may be 60 miles or more away, even when close to shore. Response times can be measured in hours if further West.

I responded to a mayday from a sea kayaker being overwhelmed by waves. Not in remote waters, just Skye. it was sheer chance that I was passing and overhead his mayday. Then realised I could hear both sides of the call, so must be “nearby”. I got to his position 15 minutes later, but was unable to assist other than as VHF relay, as kayak amongst rocks and I was solo in yacht with 2m keel.
The lifeboat had launched as promptly as it could. But it was an hour after the first mayday before it arrived, as it had to travel so far round the coastline.
Fortunately the kayaker had managed to get ashore and I could see him in a small cove. I would have been heart breaking if he had been in the water for the 40 minutes that I stood 200m off the rocks acting as Mayday relay.

So moving an all weather lifeboat 5 miles along the coast and replacing with a high speed Inshore life boat does not seem a big issue to me.
 
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Motor_Sailor

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Not a big issue to me either. Clearly emotion has got the better of any rational thought. The case for getting rid of Walton AWLB seems perfectly laudable. The RNLI has a responsibility to use donors money to provide rescue cover pertinent to the boating scene of today, not simply as a sentimental continuance of something that was relevant in days long gone by. It's only recently that people have considered stations to be 'permanent' fixtures. Traditionally, lots of stations came and went in response to changes in maritime trade and lifeboat technologies.

Closing stations is always going to be a difficult time for the communities that surround lifeboats, but the coverage must change. The number of stations along the NE shores of England is a joke. Overloaded colliers no longer stagger along this coast under sail and the recreational boating numbers are also small in comparison to other areas of the country.

Dunedin is right, that in contrast, the west coast of Scotland is seeing a massive increase in boating numbers and the coverage is sparse, even with faster boats. The new station at Oban has helped significantly but the failure to find enough crew for a Shannon AWB at Leverburgh on the Sound of Harris shows how hard it is to establish enough volunteer numbers in sparsely populated areas. I've never understood why the Humber boat is stationed at the end of Spurn Point where its isolation requires a full time professional crew when in bad SW / Westerly gales, its mooring becomes untenable and it has to decamp to Grimbsby harbour. So why not leave it there and raise a volunteer crew in that sizable town and transfer the professionals to Leverburgh where there is genuinely no one else around, but it's in a pretty hazardous area characterised by strong tides, plentiful rocks and frequented by increasing ferry, cruise ship and pleasure boat traffic.
 

PeterWright

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I don't know the ins and outs of what said what to whom, but it's a fact that people can understandably get very agitated and emotional when something they hold dear to their heart is threatened with being taken away from them.

It doesn't matter how long someone has served the station or the strength of feeling that has been stirred up in the local community, the sad fact is that Walton Lifeboat doesn't have a viable home.

The pier is falling apart, and any repairs, whilst being very costly, would only be temporary. Plus the RNLI doesn't even own the pier, so it is somewhat ingenuous to state that it's lack of maintenance by the RNLI that has caused the current situation.

Whitst the lifeboat could stay where it's currently moored in Titchmarsh Marina, it takes nearly half an hour to reach the open sea, at which point it is only a couple of miles from Harwich, where another ALB is stationed.

The only solution for an ALB in the area is a carriage-launched Shannon, but sadly there isn't any suitable land on Walton seafront, hence the decision to put a Shannon at the existing station at Clacton instead. Clacton is only 6 miles from Walton, about 15 minutes steaming time at 25 knots.

However Walton will still have a 25 knot D class, ideal for immediate life-saving jobs such as swimmers, paddle boarders, sailing dinghies and small yachts.

There is a certain irony I suppose that Clacton lifeboat itself used to be stationed at the end of Clacton pier, but also had to find a new home for similar reasons.

The difference being that at Clacton there was a suitable piece of land on which to build a new enlarged station.
Hi Juan,2,3,

You argue the logic for this decision very clearly and I have little doubt that you are correct that this change was inevitable sooner or later. I also agree that emotions run high when much loved local institutions are under threat, and I would have hoped that the RNLI understood that. My one disappointment, regarding this change is the blunr way in which it has been managed. It would appear that, rather than regard the Station Chairman as a key stakeholder who needed to be brought along with the corporate decision making, he was regarded as a potential blockage that needed to be bulldozed out of the way.

As a lifelong supporter of the RNLI, I'm starting to get a bit alarmed that this is not the first evidence of such a style from RNLI management, not really appropriate for any organisation, much less one in which the vast majority of workers are volunteers.

Peter.
 
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