Exciting trials at RNLI Rye Harbour


There was a great deal of interest from the crew at RNLI Rye Harbour on Thursday, August 3, when a Mk3 tracked ‘bendy’ launch and recovery vehicle arrived for trials.

Senior fleet staff engineer Davey Wallace and fleet staff mechanic Andy Williams were on hand to ensure the tractor was put through its paces on the shingle at the harbour mouth. Launch and recovery engineer Tom Ward oversaw the operation and observed how the Mk3 coped. The shingle at the beach is challenging because of its loose texture which leads to the formation of steep banks.

Our tractor drivers were also given the opportunity to ‘test drive’ the tractor.

Tom explained: “The track systems give the vehicle a greatly-reduced ground pressure which can decrease the likelihood of bogging in and improve traction on some surfaces.”

Gary Callard, shore crew member, tractor driver and trainer of many tractor drivers at RNLI Rye Harbour over the last ten years, said: “The Mk3 would be very useful on our shingle because the tracks distribute the vehicle weight over a larger surface-area allowing them to better handle the terrain. In our case that means not sinking into the shingle. This will enable the crew to offer an even more efficient launch and recovery of our lifeboat.”

Brendan Towner, Rye Harbour crew member, explained his experience:
“Driving the prototype tractor on the beach gave us an opportunity to be part of something new and exciting and also helped us realise just how important a new design would be for us. Low-water launches throw up challenges due to the difficulties we have come across on a beach that’s never the same each time we use it to launch the boat.”

Image Credits: Iain Cebunka , Martin Bruce , Kt bruce , Martin Geldart .

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