Call outs come at any time and as a result we need to be able to launch in all sorts of conditions – sometimes calm and often rough. To enable us to get safely and successfully to sea requires specialist launch equipment.
We operate a high tech Talus tractor (alias Bendy) which is capable of being submerged, handle the variable sand and sea conditions of our area. It has an articulated hydraulic drive system, equipped with winches at front and rear, powerful engine and two steering wheels – one for going along the road and the seat swivels round so that we are pointing the carriage to sea for launch and recovery.
Feb 2016 – we have just received upgraded version – see post: ‘Bendy 2’
The launch carriage is also a highly sophisticated piece of kit – the angle of launch can be adjusted to suit the slipway and sea conditions. The gate at the rear can be opened to assist recovery in difficult conditions. The lifeboat normally reverses into the launch carriage so that bow is forward and ready for the next launch. In emergency situation where a casualty has to be landed as quickly as possible or sea conditions are very difficult our beach crew rig a large net in the carriage and the lifeboat goes straight in bow first – being stopped by the net just in time.
To operate the whole rig required specialist training, considerable driving skill on the road and to launch. Knowledge of the various slipway and beach conditions for launch and recovery. Often great courage and skill are needed to get the lifeboat to sea and recovered again safely.
We have a bank of crew members who can drive the tractor and rig and cannot go to sea without one of them.
Click on image to enlarge: