The RNLI held its annual lifejacket clinic on April 8. I had no idea such an event existed, or that life jackets needed a clinic! I was put right very quickly when I popped into the former Phillips boat yard, now Fox Marine off Rock Channel, to find out more. It makes perfect sense, when I came to think about it, that lifejackets would need to be overhauled each year. They are obviously vital to saving life at sea, and the mechanics to ensure they do their job must need a regular check, just like parachutes.
I went into the building to see the most enormous pile of black plastic bags full of lifejackets, and to see people bringing in more to be checked whilst they waited. The RNLI-trained Derek Phillips was hard at work checking each one at a long table, while the customers had a cup of tea and a chat with Mr. Phillips’ wife and other knowledgeable bystanders.
Further help was coming later, from another lifeboat station to help complete the task. What a good idea and how well organised. Our thanks are due to everyone involved in safety on the water.
RNLI Press Officer, kt Bruce adds:
Derek said that the success of this event relies heavily upon the support of James Bateman, the Harbour Master at Rye, and his colleague Karl Sandercock, the Rye Boat Owners’ Association, and Fox Marina which provides the venue.
Derek’s and Jean’s motivation to promote safety at sea at all times stems from their involvement with the sea for over forty years as sailors and boat-owners. They give their time and expertise freely and are both volunteers as part of the Sea Safety team locally. Life jackets should be regularly checked, and the main task of this clinic is to identify any fault, enabling the owners to rectify it. Derek said that the failure rate each year is between 10-15% and this is a nationwide figure.
Local sailor, Cedric Hillier said that often the problem arises when people buy a new craft which comes with life jackets and presume that they are in top condition: sadly this is often not the case.
Photo: Gillian Roder