Visiting Fowey this weekend? On Saturday (13 August), after browsing our vintage lights shop (naturally!) along with the many other independent shops in Fowey, wander down to the Town Quay for the annual RNLI Fowey Lifeboat Day.
Enjoy plenty of events, including swing boats, bouncy castle and lucky dip for the little ones, food stalls, white elephant, craft, vegetable and book stalls. The Lifeboat & Helicopter Demonstration takes place at 11.30am – an amazing display even if you’ve seen it several times. Watching the air-sea rescue, even this demonstration version, never fails to bring a lump to my throat. What these brave souls will do for fellow human beings in trouble at sea.
The RNLI receives no government funding and the lifeboat crew are all volunteers who leave their jobs and families at a moment’s notice, usually with little idea of what precisely will be required of them out at sea. Please support Fowey RNLI on Saturday, or visit the RNLI shop just opposite the lifeboat station on Passage Lane.
Fowey has a very active RNLI station and the crews have been presented with 14 awards for gallantry. Over 150 years old, it was established after a tragic wreck in May 1856 when three men died after their vessel was wrecked near Gribbin Head. One crewmember had been rescued by three local men, who had lowered a boat down the cliff nearby, and braved the rough seas to get to the rock that he was clinging to. Following this dramatic night it was decided that a lifeboat was needed, and after large donations of land, stone and money from local landowner William Rashleigh, a lifeboat station was established at Polkerris. Fowey had been deemed unsuitable at the time, due to the difficulty in getting out of the harbour in onshore gales in a lifeboat under sail.
During the next 50 years, the lifeboat station at Polkerris continued to rescue people but was finally moved to Fowey in 1922. Polkerris station was closed and became a café, and later the popular restaurant Sams on the Beach.
Fowey received its first new motorised lifeboat during Regatta week in 1929 with at a ceremony at Whitehouse Slip. The present lifeboat ‘Maurice and Joyce Hardy’, a 14.3m all-weather self-righting Trent Class lifeboat, has been on station in since 1996 Earlier the same year Fowey lifeboat station also welcomed their first Inshore Lifeboat, to provide more effective cover around the local cliffs and beaches.
Nowadays incidents involving pleasure craft make up the majority of the callouts for the Fowey lifeboats, usually to assist broken-down craft. This is closely followed by callouts to rescue people who have been cut off by the tide and trapped on the rocks or cliffs.