The Humber RNLI crew at Spurn Point have had an interesting week after the area surrounding the lifeboat station suffered the full impact of the tidal surge last week.
Humber RNLI is the only full time coastal lifeboat station and last week’s freak weather and tidal surge showed how isolated they can be. The crew are situated at the end of a peninsula called Spurn Head, approximately three and a half miles long. In normal times it is only the duty crew living there while Associated British Ports have a VTS (vessel traffic services) tower and operate pilot boats there on a day to day basis.
In certain weather conditions, the lifeboat crew ‘bail out’ from the station at Spurn Head and have a temporary station at Grimsby, Ben Mitchell Crew at Humber explains.
‘At Humber, our lifeboat is moored off shore and we board using a smaller boarding boat; sometimes the best option for the crew and the lifeboat is for us to monitor upcoming forecasts and, if it looks like we would struggle to board in the bad weather, we will bail out to the boat early to ensure that we have a lifeboat ready to respond to an emergency at any time.’
This was the case on Wednesday 4 December. With expected gale force winds, the Coxswain David Steenvoorden took the decision to move to Grimsby until the weather passed. While at Grimsby the crew have to constantly monitor the lifeboat’s moorings and quite often have to keep the lifeboat at sea due to restrictions of mooring both at high and low tides.
After doing this for the best part of 24 hours and utilising some of this time for rough weather training, the crew was back at Grimsby to monitor the tide and asses returning to the station at Spurn Point. This was the time of the worst of the well reported tidal surge. Before high tide on Thursday evening (5 December), the water was well above prediction leaving nowhere for the crew to moor their Severn class lifeboat. This meant they were at sea until approximately midnight before it was safe enough to get back to the station at Spurn Point.
Luckily and most importantly, the station and lifeboat at Humber were fully intact at Spurn Point meaning as always the crew were able to carry on as they had done through the bad weather, on call 24/7, ready for any tasking they were needed for. Unfortunately, the road along the peninsula has not fared so well with the combination of spring tides and a low pressure system running down the North Sea meaning the point had been breached by the river and the North Sea in a few locations. This took down power lines, ripped up water mains and unfortunately flooded one of the crew’s cars. The station has its own generator and so will be able to continue working on as normal. Looking forward, the crew with the RNLI are working hard to get everything back to normal at the point and are still always ready to respond should they be needed to save lives at sea.