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THE LIFE-BOAT AT WORK .... Frontispiece 


1. AN OCEAN WAVE . . . . .2 









9. A PILOT CUTTER . . . . .30 
n. LUKIN'S LIFE-BOAT . . . 42 






CAPTAIN MANBY .... page 74 







LIFE-BOAT . . . . . .72 




21. A "WATSON" LIFE-BOAT . . . .82 



UMBERLAND " . . . .98 



26. A MOTOR " WATSON " LIFE-BOAT . . .108 


28. " SHIELDS " LIFE-BOATS .... 122 






33- ,, 2. " OVER " . . 142 

34- 3. " RIGHT AGAIN " . 142 










39. THE Ross WARD CORK LIFE-BELT . . .166 
390. THE KAPOK LIFE-BELT . . . .166 


CARRIAGE . . . . . .174 


HILL . . . . . .174 


WAY . . . . .178 








50. A DUTCH LIFE-BOAT . . . . .218 

51. A DANISH LIFE-BOAT . . . .218 












61. A STEEL SHIP'S LIFE-BOAT .... 274 





" JEBBA " . . . . . .288 






THE author desires to acknowledge his indebtedness 
to the following gentlemen for valuable information 
and for photographs : The Secretaries, the Royal 
National Life-Boat Institution, H.M. Board of Trade 
(Marine Department), the Royal Humane Society, 
the Tyne Life-Boat Society, the Societe Centrale de 
Sauvetage des Naufrages, the Deutsche Gesellschaft 
zur Rettung Sciffbriichiger, the Noord-en-zuid Hol- 
landsche Reddingmaatschappij, the Zuid-Hollandsche 
Maatschappij tot Redding van Schipbreukelingen, 
the Danish Life-Saving Service, the Swedish Pilotage 
Service, the Norsk Selskab til Skibbrudnes Redning, 
the Sociedad Espanola de Salvamento de Naufragos, 
the Institute de Soccoros a Naufragos, the Belgian 
Ministry of Marine, the Canadian Ministry of Marine 
and Fisheries, the Department of Commerce and 
Industry, Simla, India, the Italian Ministry of Marine, 
the Japanese Embassy, the Chilean Embassy, the 
Peruvian Legation, the Brazilian Legation, and the 
Uruguayan Legation. 

Also to the High Commissioners for Canada, the 
Union of South Africa, and New Zealand, and the 
Agents-General for Queensland, New South Wales, 
Western Australia, Victoria, and South Australia, and 
to the General Superintendent of the United States 
Life-Saving Service. 

Also to H.B.M.'s Consuls-General at Stockholm, 
Madrid, Archangel, Constantinople, and Trieste, and 
to the Honorary Secretaries to the private life-boats 
and many others. 





WHAT is a life-boat ? How does it differ 
essentially from any other boat ? Why is it 
that we can trace its origin and development 
independently and without undue encroach- 
ment upon so vast a field as the evolution of 
the boat in general ? 

These are questions which must be answered ; 
otherwise we may be accused of adapting 
history to our own purposes, and of merely 
playing with the loose ends of a skein that is 
too complicated by far to be unravelled in the 
scope of a single volume. As a matter of fact, 
we are in the position of a naturalist who is 
recording the gradual growth of one particular 
species. We can trace our own especial kind 
of craft through its successive stages, even from 
its first ancestor, a floating crock. Naval archi- 


tecture as a whole may look back for its origin 
to the hollowed log of prehistoric ages a sturdy 
vessel, no doubt, but unhandy and in no way 
suited to a life-boat's uses. We shall follow up 
a younger and a collateral branch, less ancient 
in lineage, but less primitive in design. 

In order to prove our contention, we must 
have a clear understanding as to what a life- 
boat is, and as to the particular conditions with 
which it exists to cope. In the first place, a 
true life-boat is essentially a surf-boat, a vessel 
which is at home in the shallow and broken 
waters of the longshore, as distinct from the 
smooth surface of a river or lake, or from the 
measured waves of the open sea. The gist of 
the matter lies in the immense difference be- 
tween the coastwise surf and a real wave, a 
difference which must be grasped before we 
can understand what a life-boat is at all. 

Natural phenomena are, as a rule, deceptive. 
In very many cases they lead the uninformed 
to form a totally erroneous estimate of their 
true character. There is not one of them, 
however, that is more deliberately misleading 
in its appearance than a wave of the sea. Even 
the initiate, the man who really understands 
the sea and all its ways, even he can stand on 
a vessel's deck and be unable to realise that an 
ocean wave is not something which it plainly 

[Photo, H. Hughes &> Son Ltd., London. 



cannot possibly be at all. Look at that huge 
roller in our illustration (Fig. 1). When you 
see such a towering mass of water apparently 
rushing towards you and carrying everything 
before it in its resistless course, you have the 
utmost difficulty in persuading yourself that, 
as a matter of fact, no mass of water is rushing 
along, and that, without the assistance of current 
or tide, it does not carry anything in its course 
whatever. You cannot believe that it just lifts 
you up and deposits you again where you were 
before, nor that the actual motion of the water 
itself is circular and not forward. What we 
have to impress firmly upon our minds is that 
a wave is not a motion of the water, but a state 
of motion passing over the water. It is a dis- 
turbance and a recovery, a disturbance of the 
hydrostatic level of a liquid, followed by an 
attempt to recover the normal condition. 

An excellent means of realising a wave's 
character is to imagine a hand pressed upwards 
against a tightly stretched sheet, and moving 
along beneath its surface. The undulation 
progresses, but not the sheet ; the latter, like 
the water, simply rises and falls. Even a more 
truthful illustration is obtained by passing 
one's finger along the edge of a table that is 
covered loosely by a coarse cloth. As a rule a 
pucker or roll of the material will be formed in 


front of the finger, and will progress with it 
along the table. This apparently advancing 
roll of cloth gives one an excellent idea of an 
ocean wave. The disturbing force is applied in 
the proper place, for the finger, like the wind, 
presses upon the surface of the medium upon 
which it acts. 

It is not only in general character that a 
wave is misleading ; it is safe to say that 
there is not one person in a thousand who 
could correctly estimate its height. Even a 
sailor will guess at perfectly extravagant 
measurements, although a height of more than 
thirty feet is very exceptional. 

So much, then, for a true wave of the deep 
sea. It is purely undulatory, lifting the particles 
of water up and setting them down, and impart- 
ing to them a circular motion in the same 
direction as the wave at its crest and contrari- 
wise in the trough. These are the waves with 
which the deep-sea sailor has to contend, and 
unless they are, like some severe sickness, 
attended by complications, they are compara- 
tively harmless. For instance, they may have 
what is called " run " ; the mass of water may 
actually move forward owing to current or 
some other cause, in which case they are doubly 
or trebly to be feared. Or, again, they may 
break ; they may be too steep for their length, 


so that the crest curls over, and the safe and 
easy curve is broken. Or, since weather is 
local and not universal, there may be one set 
of waves set up by the present gale, and another 
series, differing in length and direction, which 
has been set in motion by some past or distant 
passage of the wind. In this case a cross sea 
may be formed, or, when the direction is the 
same, the two sets of undulations may syn- 
chronise at regular intervals, and huge cumu- 
lative waves may be thrown up. These are 
fraught with extreme risk, since their size and 
the probability of their breaking is proportion- 
ately increased. The popular theory of the 
" ninth " wave (it might be the tenth or twelfth) 
is an example of the phenomenon. This 
cumulation is best imagined by listening to 
two ticking clocks. Now and again they will 
both sound exactly together, then, for a time, 
the one louder voice will predominate, until in 
due course they tick together again. These are 
some of the complications which may impart 
terror to the waves of the open sea, and these 
are the dangers that are ever present in the 
case of surf or waves of the longshore. 

When we sail out- of -soundings the contest is 
an equal one. Our vessel is built on proper 
lines to cope with the regular curve of the wave's 
surface, and, knowing what to expect and how 


to meet it, we can act accordingly. When, 
however, the state of motion passes over shallow 
water, or over water which is influenced by 
tides or currents, then the actual particles 
themselves move along, not necessarily at the 
same speed as the wave itself, but, as is obviously 
more dangerous, at an independent speed of their 
own. Moreover, in order that a wave may 
retain its natural and trustworthy form, it is 
necessary that the depth of water should be 
equal to or in excess of the length of the wave. 
Otherwise the bottom retards the speed of the 
revolving particles, and, the form becoming 
disproportionate, the crest of the wave curls 
over and breaks. 

We have, therefore, in longshore and shallow 
waters, to fight, as a matter of course, against 
all the dangerous complications which upon 
the high seas are purely exceptional. And the 
complications are not modified, but are in- 
tensified out of all reason. For instance, in 
some straits and estuaries a tidal current of 
four or five knots may run either against, with, 
or across the direction of the wind. The re- 
sulting disturbance is indescribable. The only 
phrase that fits the situation is " a sea running 
all ways at once." Nothing in a vessel's lines 
can provide against such contingencies as this. 
If you were to attempt to follow " wave forms " 


in your designing, the whole science of conic 
sections would be unable to provide a sufficiency 
of curves. 

Taking it all round, it is in shallow and tidal 
waters that waves are most complicated and 
most especially to be feared. When we come 
to the surf itself we have something more 
definite with which to deal. We know what we 
have to expect, and we can, to some extent, 
provide accordingly. Out on the high seas 
we are battling, as it were, with a skilled and 
courteous fencer ; he cuts and thrusts on known 
and stated principles, and, since he uses but 
one attack, that one can be easily and lightly 
countered. In soundings, we have to deal with a 
mob of untrained but active fighters, who strike 
here and strike there without reference to rule or 
reason, and who beat down our guard by sheer 
weight of steel. And, to follow up our metaphor, 
the battle with the surf is a stubborn stand or 
a slow advance against the successive charges 
of a swift and furious enemy. He runs in and 
strikes his blow, and we must not only parry but 
gain ground. It is the " run " that makes the 
trouble. The roller of the surf actually moves 
forward and carries all before it ; and it not 
only progresses, but, being distorted from its 
proper form, it breaks continually and borrows 
destructive energy from the tide as well. This 


is the kind of sea that a life-boat has to contend 
with. It is no fencing bout, but a fierce rough-and- 
tumble a well-nigh forlorn hope in which it must 
not only stand its ground, but charge and charge 
again, and be ready time after time to recover from 
what would to another vessel be a deadly blow. 

This brings us to what must be its essential 
principles, the points in which it must differ 
from every other craft afloat. The first particu- 
lar danger that threatens it is in the destructive 
power of the breaking crest, and to cope with 
this there is nothing, of course, but sheer strength 
of construction and adaptation of the parts to 
withstand the various strains. Then there is 
the difficulty of rising to the short and running 
seas, and the necessity, not only for an immense 
reserve of buoyancy, but for a means whereby 
the water which is taken aboard may be either 
thrown off or dealt with in some other way. 
The last phrase may sound redundant ; for how, 
it may be asked, can you deal with superfluous 
water except by getting rid of it ? But, as a 
matter of fact, there is, or rather was, one type 
of life-boat which retained the water and relied 
upon its reserve of buoyancy alone. The third 
point, and that hardest to deal with, lies in the 
tendency of a running sea to broach a vessel to, 
to hurl her on to her beam ends and to capsize her 
bodily. It is now that there comes in the great 

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self-righting principle, the law which has governed 
the whole development of the coastal life-boat 
even to this day. 

At last, after wide digression, we have come 
back to the floating crock, that we mentioned 
in our first page, for it is upon that same crock 
that the essential principle is founded. As a 
matter of history, it was not until something 
more than a hundred years ago that the theory 
and the crock were brought together, but un- 
doubtedly the principle was adopted from the 
earliest times. Our Viking forbears built their 
great open vessels on identical lines, and the 
same unconsidered fragment has impressed its 
characteristics upon the surf -boats of the world. 
However, we will stick to history. The crock 
was the immediate ancestor of the self-righting 
life-boat, and this is the true story of the dis- 
covery of its capabilities. 

It is related that William Wpuldhave, who 
is generally considered to have been the inventor 
of the self-righter, happened, in the course of a 
country stroll, to come across a woman who 
desired his assistance to lift a heavy vessel of 
water just drawn from the well. On its surface 
there floated the broken half of a wooden bowl. 
Wouldhave was drawn into conversation, and, 
like many another who cannot keep his hands 
quiet while he talks, he evidently idly toyed 


with the floating piece of wood. Naturally he 
turned it over, and found to his surprise that it 
immediately righted itself. He repeated his at- 
tempt with the same result, and, since he was 
at the time actually engaged in practical ex- 
periments in this direction, he immediately 
realised the importance of his chance discovery. 

Of how he developed it, we will talk later in 
the proper place. It is a simple experiment, and 
one which any one can readily make for himself. 
All you require is the fourth part of a hollow 
" prolate spheroid " ; or, to put it in more homely 
language, the quarter of a cocoa-nut shell split 
from end to end. Place it in a bowl of water 
and you will find that it will not remain capsized, 
but will return at once to an even keel ; or, since 
it has no keel, we will state the phenomenon 
scientifically and say that it will only float with 
the convex surface downward. Any child is 
familiar with the fact that, if you cut up a broken 
ball, you get five or six nice little round- 
bottomed, high-ended boats. It remained for 
William Wouldhave to discover that these were 
all little self-righting life-boats. 

Greathead, who probably had a hand in the 
invention of the first life-boat, and who certainly 
built her, published a brief account, in which he 
stated that the idea of building the vessel with 
a curved keel was suggested to him by the 


principle of the quarter of a spheroid, the tend- 
ency of which is to swim with the convex surface 
downward. The characteristics of the type are 
the high, sharp-pointed ends, the big sheer or 
curve between stem and stern, and the flat, 
rounded bottom. These characteristics will be 
found in nearly all the surf-boats of Western 
Europe, dating back to very ancient times, 
and in other vessels as well. The ships of Homer 
were described as " high upraised at stem and 
stern," and resembling the horns of oxen. They 
are considered, in fact, to have presented a type 
in the history of Mediterranean shipping parallel 
to that of the Viking vessels in the North Sea. 
The Nile boats, described by Herodotus, had ends 
rising high above the water. In fact, so exag- 
gerated was this feature, that the stern and 
stem had often to be attached together by a 
longitudinal truss to prevent the vessel " hogg- 
ing." Charnock, in his History of Marine Archi- 
tecture, describes a vessel or large boat used by 
the ancients for purposes of commerce which 
had very high ends and was almost round in 
profile. The Roman galley, of which a marble 
model was discovered in the Villa Matthei in 
the sixteenth century, was very rounded too in 
the sheer plan or profile, but her thwartships 
sections were " v "-shaped. 

The higher the seamanlike qualities of the 


coastwise population, the more closely is the 
type followed, the resemblance being especially 
marked in the boats of Scandinavia. The Viking 
ship was, through her direct descendant the 
Norway yawl, the ancestor, demonstrably, of the 
first life-boat. We will, therefore, describe her 
here in order that we may see how closely she 
resembled in her shape the type that we are 

This vessel was discovered at Gogstad, near 
Christiania, in 1879, in a wonderful state of 
preservation. It was customary to bury the 
sea-king in his own ship, and to cover the whole 
with earth so as to form a huge mound. In 
opening one of these mounds near the entrance 
to Christiania Fiord the discovery was made. 

Mr. Dixon Kemp, in his Yacht and Boat 
Sailing, gives its dimensions as follows : 

Length on water line 13 feet, 3 inches. 

Extreme breadth 16 7 

Depth from top of keel to gunwale (amidships) 5 

The vessel was flat-bottomed, with high, 
rounded ends and great sheer. The midship 
section and sheer plan (or profile) resemble 
those of the life- boat to a remarkable degree, 
especially of the life-boat in its earlier types. 
She was probably one of the smaller class, or 
" skuta," pulling thirty-two oars, and was 
clinker-built of oak. The larger boats ranged 


from the " ask " or " skeid " of sixty-four oars 
and a crew of two hundred and forty, to the 
famous " dreki " or dragons, and the still larger 
" snekkjur " or serpents. 

As would naturally be expected, the same 
peculiarities are very marked in the Scandi- 
navian vessels of later years, and in the boats 
which are undoubtedly built on Scandinavian 
lines. We get the same high ends, for instance, 
in some of the Irish types, and the boats used 
at Fenit in Kerry for pilotage work present the 
characteristics to a marked degree. The stem 
is cut off square towards the end, but the bow is 
sharp and round and the sheer is inordinate. 
The Norway yawl, of which we shall have so much 
to say, is really a type of Nordland boat peculiar 
to the port of Arendal. These Nordland boats 
were credited with extraordinary qualities in 
a seaway, and, curiously enough, their prowess 
was, and probably still is, due more to the skill 
of those handling them than to the inherent 
qualities of the vessels themselves. 

The Nordland fishing-boat proper has high 
stem and stern, great sheer, and great flare, or 
spread outwards to her sides, but she is shallow 
and narrow in the beam. Probably her handi- 
ness and ability are due to the high, light ends. 
The Norway yawl is similar, but far more sea- 
worthy in her characteristics, having lighter 


and more rounded ends and deeper draught. 
In appearance she is very like the present Shields 
life-boat, which is her direct descendant. She is 
rigged with a single lugsail. 

It is not only the life-boat that owes her 
parentage to the Norway yawl. The East County 
" keel " is descended from the Nordland boat, 
and the Shetland " sexern " was actually an 
imported Norway yawl. They were brought 
across in sections, and put together on arrival. 
The Yorkshire " coble " or surf -boat of North- 
umberland and Yorkshire is probably of com- 
bined Dutch and Scandinavian origin. She 
is high in the bow, but her stern is low and 
flat and wholly inadequate in appearance. It 
is the powerful bow and deep forefoot that 
make her so admirable for launching from a 

But it is not only the Northmen who have 
built their coast-boats on the lines of the hollow 
segment of a sphere. Along the Riviera and 
on the Spanish coast a type of boat is in favour, 
of which the stem and stern curve upward and 
the keel is greatly rounded, enabling the boat 
to be launched in a heavy surf. On the Tagus 
the surf -boats, or " varinas," are built on a very 
similar model, but in this case the high ends, 
instead of being modified, are exaggerated. 
The Portuguese island of Madeira has borrowed 




By permission of Messrs. Burroughs, Wellcome & 1 Co., Owners of the copyright. 

c r , < 


the type, and the boats used at Funchal are 
high-ended again. Here they have to contend 
with a heavy surf, and, since they are used for 
conveying cargo to and from vessels anchored 
in an open roadstead, they have to work under 
the most strenuous conditions. One of these 
boats is illustrated in Fig. 4. 

Perhaps there is no place where the surf is 
more terrific than at the mouths of the estuaries 
of the Moorish littoral. Even in the calmest 
weather the rollers on these bars are tremendous, 
and, in a stiff breeze, no boat could live at all. 
Whether the Moors learnt this branch of naval 
construction during their occupation of Spain 
and Portugal, or whether they evolved it of 
themselves, I cannot say ; but certain it is that 
the boats which they use to negotiate the surf, 
both on the bars and on the open beach, are built 
on the same principles and on similar lines. Of 
course the Moors on the coast are grand sailors. 
Ever since the Sallee Rovers ranged the seas 
they have shown a skill and daring which has 
seldom been equalled. Now they confine their 
prowess to their own waters, and, since they 
possess on the west coast no harbours of any 
kind, they have been forced to develop a suitable 
type of boat, lest they should be cut off from 
the world's commerce. The resemblance of some 
of their huge lighters to the English life-boat 


is extraordinary. Perhaps it is most marked 
at the port of Saffi. Here there is no harbour 
and no estuary. The boats are run straight 
on to the beach, and launched from the beach 
again ; both in strength of construction and 
suitability of form they are unequalled for the 
work that they have to do. They are some 
five-and-twenty feet in length by eight in beam, 
and are rounded at stem and stern, and flat- 
bottomed. Both ends are very high, and are 
platformed or decked, and there are three 
thwarts for rowers. Like our life- boats, they 
are steered on occasion with a deep rudder, but 
more generally with an oar. 

It is not only in the vessels that they use, 
but also in the method of handling them, that 
these Moorish longshoremen resemble our own 
coastwise men at home. The stroke which they 
adopt in rowing is almost identical with the 
stroke used by the English life-boat men. Of 
course, this is in some measure induced by the 
high gunwale and similar shape of the heavy 
boats, but the peculiar finish to the stroke is 
the same in both cases. To the ordinary ob- 
server these half-naked savages, with their wild, 
crooning boat- songs, and fierce cries and gesticu- 
lations, seem like nothing else on earth. But, 
if you know something of the sea and of its 
ways, and have been a passenger both in a 


life-boat and a Moorish lighter, you will neces- 
sarily be struck by the points that they have 
in common. 

The lighters used at Mogador, lower down the 
coast, are not so similar in shape, but in con- 
struction they caricature, as it were, the build 
of the English life-boat. It is as if the per- 
fection of the double diagonal skin were trans- 
lated into one of Reed's " Prehistoric Peeps." 
Between the roughest of double-planking the ends 
of the closely set ribs protrude without disguise. 
The strength of the boats must be enormous, 
but in appearance their construction is primi- 
tive in the extreme. 

As is to be expected, the huge surf-boats 
of Sallee are altogether finer vessels, and better 
built in every way. The Moors who man them 
are the direct descendants of the famous Rovers, 
and, on the bar of the Bouragreg River, they 
have to fight a surf which is unequalled. Even 
on an almost windless day one of these huge 
boats is up-ended like a floating twig. Thwarts 
are provided for from fourteen to twenty rowers, 
and the boats are decked at either end. They 
are steered with a rudder and a long tiller. As 
can be seen by our picture (Fig. 5), their accom- 
modation is enormous. 

Although surf-boats in many countries have 
developed on similar lines, it is to Scandinavia 


that we look for their origin, and it is to the 
Scandinavian pedigree that we will now turn. 
We must keep our genealogy and our history 
separate, and our genealogy must come first ; 
therefore, when in this chapter we mention 
names and dates, it is only because we have to : 
we will reserve details for their proper place. 

The two essential epochs in the origin of the 
English life-boat are its invention, first by Lukin 
in 1785, and again, in a different form, by Would- 
have in 1789. In the former case the Nor- 
wegian origin of the invention is unquestioned. 
Lukin purchased a Norway yawl, converted 
her into what he called an insubmergible boat, 
and took out a patent. Later, in 1786, he con- 
verted a coble into a safety boat, which was 
used eventually at Bamborough for saving life 
from shipwreck. Lukin, therefore, went to 
Norway for his essentials that is, for the form 
of vessel which he deemed it most advisable 
to adopt for his particular purposes. 

Wouldhave's original model was submitted 
four years later to a committee which had offered 
a premium for the invention of a life-boat. A 
member of this committee happened to have 
been shipwrecked, and to have been rescued by 
a Norwegian yawl. This gentleman made a 
model in clay that approximated closely to the 
vessel for which he naturally had a strong 


predilection, since to it he owed his life. Its 
keel was curved or " rockered," and certain 
of the ideas embodied in Wouldhave's model 
were adopted, and the design modified accord- 
ingly. Thus was the first life-boat evolved 
that ever bore the name, and thus again is its 
Scandinavian origin undoubted. 

It has been considered remarkable that the 
same design should have entered into both the 
plans, and it has even been suggested that 
Wouldhave borrowed some of his ideas from 
his predecessor Lukin. However, when one 
comes to consider the reputation borne by the 
Norway yawl, especially at that time, it is in 
no way to be wondered at that the type should 
have occurred at once to any one desirous of 
discovering a boat that should be particularly 
suited to a heavy sea. 

At this juncture there had just been com- 
pleted the second edition of the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, and in it was an article by Falconer, 
the famous marine lexicographer, on the sub- 
ject " Boat." It was, in fact, a reprint of the 
essay under the same heading published in his 
Universal Dictionary of the Marine in 1769. 
In the course of this article the following passage 
occurs : 

" Of the small boats, a Norway yawl seems 
to be the best calculated for a high sea, as it will 


often venture out to a great distance from the 
coast of that country, when a stout ship can 
hardly carry any sail." 

Now what is more natural than that the 
prospective inventor of a paragon among boats 
should commence his investigations by turning 
at once to the new edition of the Encyclopedia 
Britannica of that day ? Certainly he would 
now have recourse to the eleventh edition 
before he took any practical steps at all. He 
would be sure to look up the article " Boat," in 
order to make himself acquainted with the 
state of existing knowledge on the subject, 
and he would at once be struck by such a unique 
and positive statement as that respecting the 
seaworthy qualities of the Norway yawl. 



HAVING traced the material characteristics 
of the life-boat to their first beginnings, we 
must now proceed to follow up the history 
of the philanthropic movement which brought 
about the gradual establishment of a Life-Saving 
Service throughout the world. 

Of course China claims to have been first 
in the field. She always does claim to have 
inaugurated everything, from gunpowder to 
civilisation. If, however, she did set this 
humane example in the dim and distant past, 
certainly no one else followed it, for no steps 
were taken by any other country until after 
the middle of the eighteenth century. Previous 
endeavours towards safeguarding the mariner 
took the form of the provision of lights, har- 
bours, and buoys ; with that the conscience of 
public or nation was apparently satisfied. 

There seems to have been a strong feeling 
during the last quarter of the eighteenth century 
in England, France, and America, with other 


countries, that something must be done to 
prevent the constant recurrence of the terrible 
loss of life that must have been only too common 
in those times whenever a heavy storm occurred. 
The accounts of shipwrecks previous to the 
establishment of any definite life-boat service 
were melancholy reading. Look at our picture 
of a wreck at Dunstanburgh in those early days. 
The fishermen do their best to assist the sailors 
that have been cast ashore, but their safety 
is due to the mercy of the elements rather 
than to any efforts of their fellow-men. Com- 
pare the following illustration (Fig. 7) of a wreck 
at Scilly at the present day. The life-boat is 
alongside, and, even when the weather has 
moderated, she is standing by in case of need. 
A fair example of the sufferings attendant 
upon such a disaster in the eighteenth cen- 
tury may be found in the story of the wreck of 
the Halsewell, East Indiaman, in 1786. This 
fine vessel sailed from the Downs on 1st Jan- 
uary of that year, with a company of some 
240 persons, crew and passengers. She en- 
countered bad weather, and was forced to anchor 
near St. Albans Head. On the morning of 
6th January the wind was blowing with almost 
hurricane force, and she was driven ashore on 
the Isle of Purbeck. By a curious chance 
she was stranded right across the mouth of a 

[From an old engraving by Finden. 

A wreck at Dunstanborough. 


huge cavern. The cliff at that point was of 
great height, and, at a distance of one hundred 
feet from the summit, there yawned what is 
described as a " fearful chasm." This cavern 
was some thirty feet in depth, and its breadth 
equalled the length of a large ship. The incident 
reminds one of the loss of a well-known mail 
steamer on the coast of Ireland some eighteen 
years ago. She ran straight into a huge cave ; 
but, what was to her people salvation, in the 
case of the crew and passengers of the Halsewell 
spelt nothing less than disaster. The over- 
hang of the cliff hid all sight of the shipwrecked 
persons from anyone who might be above, and 
cut them off from all communication with 
possible rescuers. Guns had been fired at inter- 
vals for hours, but, even if they attracted any 
attention, there was no attempt made at rescue. 
In one way or another a number of the ship's 
company managed to reach the rocks and to 
shelter themselves in the cavern, but more still 
perished in the attempt. At last, with the 
utmost difficulty and risk, one or two con- 
trived to scale the cliff, and news of the wreck 
was conveyed by them to the nearest dwellings. 
Then at length the countryside was roused, 
and efforts were made to rescue the survivors 
from their perilous position. The method 
adopted was as follows : Two men stood at the 


cliff's edge and were securely fastened by ropes 
to bars driven into the ground. Behind them 
were two men similarly lashed, and then two 
more, and so on. Between the successive couples 
a rope was passed and lowered down the cliff, 
and by its means the wretched men and women 
were at last brought to safety. Out of 240 only 
74 were saved, the rest were drowned or dashed 
to pieces on the rocks. 

This is not an isolated instance. The annals 
of the sea at that period were full of many such ; 
in fact, the usual comment in narrating the 
details of a wreck was " that so many persons 
perished within sight of the spectators, who were 
unable to render any assistance." In fact, it 
was such a disaster at the mouth of the Tyne in 
1789 which caused the first life-boat to be built. 
There can be no doubt that public feeling at the 
time attributed a large amount of blame to the 
longshore population, especially of our southern 
and western coasts. How far that blame is 
deserved it is difficult indeed to say. Of course, 
the wrecking spirit was rife then as always, but 
it is highly probable that the accounts of the 
deliberate casting ashore of vessels were greatly 
exaggerated, if not entirely fictitious. It is 
one thing to cast a ship away, but it is quite 
another to plunder her when stranded ; and it 
was this keen anxiety to get a share in the 


proceeds of a wreck that obtained for the south- 
and west - countrymen their evil reputation. 
That it was evil is beyond doubt, far worse 
indeed than we can well imagine, who travel from 
the Lizard to Dungeness and find the inhabitants 
uniformly honest and kindly. It was the habit 
at the middle of the eighteenth century to talk 
of them as savages in fact, " the savages that 
inhabit those coasts " is quite a common expres- 
sion in newspapers of about that date. 

As an example, take the account of the wreck 
of a Dutch vessel, published in the Bristol 
Weekly Intelligencer of 10th February 1750. It 
reads as follows : 

" We hear from Lyme in Dorset that in the 
late high wind a Dutch ship, having 700 hhds. 
of tobacco, was driven ashore between that place 
and Portland. Twenty-six of her men were 
drowned, and the ship plundered by the savages 
of the county." 

It is to be feared that to some extent the 
indictment was a true one. A too keen anxiety 
for the spoils of a wreck must necessarily have 
militated against any very vigorous or con- 
scientious effort to rescue the survivors. In fact, 
survivors must have been on occasion a good 
deal in the way. 

The charge of actually bringing about ship- 
wreck and loss of life has been so often levelled 


against our south- and west-country fisherfolk, 
with possibly but little foundation, that this sug- 
gestion of mere passive acquiescence in the mur- 
derous cruelty of the sea is a comparatively mild 
one. At the same time, however, it must be re- 
membered that there were no suitable boats and 
no apparatus for communicating with a wreck. 
What might seem to be indifference or worse in 
the eyes of other people, may have been caused 
by sheer inability to render any possible assist- 
ance. However, although we are bound nowa- 
days to make allowances for the prejudices and 
ignorance of two centuries ago, and to give our 
longshore population the benefit of what doubts 
we can, still the fact remains that the general 
opinion in those days imputed to them the very 
worst of intentions. 

It seems a strange thing to have to say, but 
certain it is that any steps taken during the first 
half of the eighteenth century towards assisting 
the shipwrecked were directed not so much 
towards saving their lives as towards preventing 
their destruction. An Act passed so late as 1752 
provided that the following should be capital 
felonies : 

" Plundering any vessel either in distress or 
shipwrecked" ; or 

" Preventing the escape of any person that 
endeavours to save his life " : or 


Wounding him with intent to destroy him " ; 


" Putting out false lights in order to bring any 
ship into danger." 

An Act of Queen Anne, which was subse- 
quently confirmed in the reign of George I., 
provided for assistance being rendered to 
distressed seamen under penalty. It read as 
follows : 

" In order to assist the distressed, and prevent 
the scandalous illegal practices on some of our 
seacoasts, it is enacted that all head officers, and 
others of honour near the sea, shall, upon applica- 
tion made to them, summon as many hands as are 
necessary and send them to the relief of any ship 
in distress on forfeiture of 100." 

Our civil law of the same period made it a 
capital offence to destroy (sic) persons ship- 
wrecked, or to prevent their saving the ship ; 
and to steal even a plank from a vessel in 
distress or wrecked made the party liable to 
answer for the whole ship and cargo. 

There is some comfort in the thought that it 
was not only against our own longshore popula- 
tion that such stringent laws had to be levelled. 
The laws of the Visigoths and the earliest Nea- 
politian Constitutions punished most severely 
any who neglected to assist those in distress 
or plundered any goods cast ashore, and the 


inhabitants of the Baltic coasts had a terrible 
reputation for their savagery in seizing all 
wreckage as a lawful prize. 

In 1776, the very year when the first life-boat 
station was established, Burke introduced a 
Bill to exact the value of a plundered wreck 
from the inhabitants of the district in which it 
occurred. There was strong opposition on the 
part of a number of country gentlemen in the 
House of Commons. The Government was 
anxious at the time for the votes of these mem- 
bers in order to pass supplies for the purpose 
of the American War, and the Bill was thrown 
out. This doggerel written at the time sums 
up the situation : 

" To make Squire Boobies willing 

To grant supplies at every check, 
Give them the plunder of a wreck ; 
They'll vote another shilling." 

However, so far as the fishermen were con- 
cerned, there is no doubt that they actually con- 
sidered themselves the lawful heirs of drowned 
persons and the owners of stranded property. 
It was a duty to themselves to use every possible 
endeavour to secure the goods which Providence 
had provided for their needs. 

On some parts of our coasts there was another 
factor which certainly must have militated 
largely against any individual effort at life- 


saving on the sea. The superstition was very 
rife that toll was exacted from the rescuer for 
a life snatched from the fury of the waves. 
In the Notes to The Pirate, Sir Walter Scott 
sums up the state of affairs as it existed in the 
west of Scotland. 

It is remarkable that, in an archipelago 
where so many persons must be necessarily 
endangered by the waves, so strange and in- 
human a maxim should have engrafted itself 
upon the minds of a people otherwise kind, 
moral, and hospitable. But all with whom I 
have spoken agree that it was almost general 
in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and 
was with difficulty weeded out by the sedulous 
instructions of the clergy and the rigorous 
injunctions of the proprietors. There is little 
doubt it had been originally introduced as an 
excuse for suffering those who attempted to 
escape from the wreck to perish unassisted, 
so that, there being no survivor, she might 
be considered as lawful plunder. A story was 
told me, I hope an untrue one, that a vessel 
having got ashore among the breakers on one 
of the remote Zetland islands, five or six men, 
the whole or greater part of the unfortunate 
crew, endeavoured to land by assistance of a 
hawser, which they had secured to a rock. The 
inhabitants were assembled, and looked on with 


some uncertainty, till an old man said : c Sirs, 
if these men come ashore, the additional mouths 
will eat all the meal we have in store for winter ; 
and how are we to get more ? ' A young 
fellow, moved with this argument, struck the 
rope asunder with his axe, and all the poor 
wretches were immersed in the breakers and 

Such a superstition as this would take a 
deal of living down, and one may well imagine 
brave, strong, yes, and even kindly, men avoiding 
so much as the opportunity of affording succour 
when they firmly believed that they would be 
so cruelly rewarded. Organised effort would 
quickly discount such a theory, for the blame 
for the humane action could hardly be appor- 
tioned among a boat's crew, acting under 
definite authority. At the same time, individual 
reluctance to save a drowning man can easily 
be understood, if one realises the spirit of the time. 

There is a third hindrance to the attempted 
rescue of the drowning, which can only be com- 
bated by definite organisation, and it is summed 
up in the popular saying that " Everybody's 
business is nobody's business." This unfortu- 
nate fact was, and is now, responsible for much 
apparent indifference to the danger of others. 
In describing the loss of the General Barker, 
East Indiaman, in 1781, a passenger complains 


[ Prom an old engt aving. 




that, although they fired signals of distress 
throughout a whole day, they could get no assist- 
ance, although they were off so populous a 
coast as that of Kent. This ship grounded 
on the Kentish Knock, and was finally lost on 
the coast of Holland, to which she was driven 
by the gale. The narrator goes on to say that 
the Dutch very humanely came to their assist- 
ance and rescued sixty of the crew. 

The writer knows of a recent instance where 
a rescue could undoubtedly have been effected 
from three different quarters, but where life 
was sacrificed because each one of the three in 
authority believed that one of the other two 
was undertaking the task. 

Of course we must not imagine, because 
there was no organisation before 1774, that, 
therefore, there were no efforts made at all. 
Undoubtedly much excellent work was done 
by those who, by virtue of their profession, 
had the necessary opportunities and experience. 
We can be sure that many a rescue was effected 
both by pilots and preventive men, and the 
former do grand service even to the present 
day. Any official cutter, such as that illus- 
trated in Fig. 8, would have made such work 
a part of its own proper affairs. 

Writing from The Hague on 29th January 
1666, the captain of the King's yacht bears 


witness to the assistance rendered to him by 
a pilot. " May it please your Majesty," he 
writes, " in my passage hither I had the honour 
of trying your Majesty's yacht in such a storm 
as I never felt before, and a greater no man in 
her pretended ever to have seen. The fortune 
of your Majesty's affairs helped us to the dis- 
covery of a pilot boat at a distance from the 
coasts, that brought us happily in, without 
which we had passed such another night at sea 
as I should not care to do for anything your 
Majesty could give me, besides your favour 
and the occasion of serving you." 

The wreck of the ship Ganges on a voyage 
from Bengal to Madras affords another instance 
of a similar service. On the 22nd March 1787 
she sprang a leak, and, since the pumps became 
choked by the rice of her cargo, she was run 
ashore. A pilot schooner came to the assist- 
ance of the distressed passengers and crew, 
and eventually forty-three out of one hundred 
and thirteen were saved. 

Among the earliest steps taken in America 
towards saving life at sea was a Government 
order to official vessels that they were to render 
every possible assistance should opportunity 

It is interesting to note that, during the 
proceedings of the recent Board of Trade 


Committee on Pilotage, the following interro- 
gation was put to a representative of the Cardiff 
pilots and was thus answered. It had been 
suggested that the cutters cruising everywhere 
in the Channel were a source of danger, and 
the question was asked whether they were not 
sometimes a source rather of safety. 

" Yes," replied the pilot, " I may say that 
I have saved four ships' crews in my cutter. 
The last occasion was in a heavy gale of wind. 
I stood by two small craft for twenty-three 
hours, and saved the crews. In the end one 
of the vessels was driven ashore on Hartland 

A further heroic instance of the truth of 
this pilot's statements is within the knowledge 
of the writer. During a race for pilot cutters, 
which took place at Ilfracombe regatta some 
years ago, two of the competing vessels were 
dismasted by a sudden squall. These cutters, 
the L.J.J., Pilot Lewis Jones, and the Frances, 
Pilot David James, were left helpless and in 
the most perilous position that could well be 
imagined. Within a few cables the fierce seas 
dashed in fury on the crags of the Morte Rock 
the Morte which, true to its name, is one of the 
most deadly reefs on all our coasts. A third 
cutter, the Excel, owned by Pilot A. Woodward, 
was laid almost on to her beam ends and swept 


by the seas. She recovered, however, without 
serious loss, and her captain prepared to rescue 
his less fortunate colleagues. A strong hawser 
was brought on deck and laid in readiness, and 
the Excel was headed towards the cutter which 
was in the most imminent danger. Let Pilot 
Woodward tell the rest of the story in his own 
words : 

" The Frances," he says, " was close to the 
Morte Stone, over which a terrible sea was run- 
ning. The floating wreckage on her weather 
side made it impossible for us to approach 
near enough to pass a line. To leeward was 
the Rock itself. We had no time to hesitate; 
there was but one thing for us to do, and that 
was to pass between the Morte Stone and the 
lee side of the dismasted cutter. Whether we 
really had water over the reef or whether we 
went over on the crest of a huge sea, we never 
knew. But over we did go, and when it was 
done we had what we had bid for : the rope 
was passed, and the Frances was fast astern. 
The other cutter was the L.J.J. She drifted 
a cable's length above the Morte, and her danger 
was not so imminent. Her crew had their 
own rope ready for us, and it was passed aboard 
without difficulty. So, with two dismasted cutters 
in tow, the Excel set out for Ilfracombe." 

There were many men too in early times 


who were ready to risk their lives for others on 
their own initiative. A splendid example of 
individual effort towards saving life at sea is 
related in the Annual Register for September 
1785. A French vessel with six persons aboard 
endeavoured to make Dover harbour in a fierce 
gale of wind. She was dashed to pieces by the 
seas, and some of her crew floated on a mass 
of wreckage from the pier to a point opposite 
the York House. Four sailors, seeing their 
imminent peril, embarked to their rescue in an 
ordinary shore-boat. They picked up the ship- 
wrecked men, but, in doing so, they upset their 
own craft, and all of them were washed ashore 

In the old days even the pilot was not free 
from the suspicion of complicity in wrecking. 
Certainly his position must have rendered him 
particularly open to temptation. The Sea Laws 
of Oleron provided that : 

' If any pilot designedly misguide a ship 
that it may be cast away, he shall be put to a 
rigorous death and hang in chains; and if the 
lord of a place where a ship be thus lost abet 
such villains in order to have a share of the 
wreck, his person shall be fastened to a stake 
in the midst of his own mansion, which, being 
fired at the four corners, shall be burnt to the 
ground and he with it." 


If the pilot so bungled in his barratry that 
the captain and crew were able to divine his 
sinister intentions, they were authorised by 
the same code to decapitate him on the spot. 
However, we know of no instance of such a lapse 
on the part of a member of the profession. 
In fact, the records of every service do its pilots 
nothing but honour. 

In Austria, where there is no organised 
life-boat service, the Government pilots' cutters 
are now used for rescue work as occasion 
demands, and are equipped with all gear for that 
purpose. At the present day, too, throughout 
the pilot stations of Victoria (Australia), the 
service whale-boats are equipped with every- 
thing that is necessary to enable them to assist 
shipwrecked persons should the opportunity 

In addition to the authorised pilots, there has 
existed since very early days on our eastern and 
southern coasts a race of longshore free-lances, 
and these men were undoubtedly instrumental 
in saving numberless ships and their crews 
before the advent of the life-boat proper. The 
Deal " hovellers " have always been noted 
throughout the world for the skill and daring 
with which they handle their great three-masted 
luggers. These were huge, open boats, 40 feet 
in length, and of great beam, and built for launch- 


ing and working in a murderous surf. Frequently 
they were hauled off with a warp through the 
breakers, just as a life- boat is now in certain 
places. In these splendid vessels the boatmen 
of the Kentish coast effected many a rescue and 
salved many a rich cargo. 

The term " hoveller " is interesting, for it 
persists not only at Deal, but at many other places 
along the coast. In both Cornwall and the 
Bristol Channel " hoveller " and " hobbler " are 
the names applied to unlicensed pilots, or to any 
men who pick up a precarious living sailing their 
own boats in shallow waters. The word is said 
to be derived from " hobiller," the mounted 
coastguard of Edward III.'s time, but, since 
" hovering " along the coast was a common 
phrase in the eighteenth century, one is inclined 
to think that the derivation is an altogether 
simpler one. " Hovering," in the sense of 
aimless sailing offshore, was looked upon with 
natural suspicion in those days of smuggling, 
and was a punishable offence ; a vessel of under 
50 tons caught " hovering " was forfeited. 
Admiral Smyth in his Sailor's Word-Book defines 
a hoveller in very uncomplimentary terms. 
Evidently he credited them with no humane 
intentions. " The word," he says, " is a Cinque 
Port term for pilots and their boatmen ; but 
colloquially it is also applied to sturdy vagrants 


who infest the seacoast in bad weather in 
expectation of wreck and plunder." 

It is related that after the hurricane of 1703, 
the worst perhaps on record, some two hun- 
dred shipwrecked sailors were stranded on the 
Goodwins, with the certainty of speedy death by 
drowning when the tide rose. The Mayor of Deal 
called upon the "hovellers" and boatmen to assist 
in their rescue, but, so the story runs, they were too 
busy saving a rich harvest of floating and stranded 
property. The Revenue men were appealed to, 
but they refused to lend their boats on the grounds 
that they were not intended for such service. At 
last the devoted Mayor called together a band of 
his fellow- townsmen, seized the Customs' boats by 
force, and launched them to the rescue. 

Perhaps it is just as well that nowadays 
salvage work proceeds on highly organised lines, 
and this branch of the " hoveller's " profession 
is confined within very proscribed limits. The 
modern wrecker buys his ship in the recognised 
market, and proceeds to salve her with every 
appliance and device that modern science can 
suggest. Perhaps the loss of the Montagu on 
Lundy Island has provided the most noted 
instance in recent years of the methods upon 
which this work is conducted. The suspension 
bridge constructed from the wreck to the high 
cliff above is quite a unique device (see Fig. 10). 

^ c c 

:. . . 



In Sweden the salvage of ships and property 
was thus organised even towards the end of the 
seventeenth century. Private companies were 
formed, called " dykericompanier," or diving 
companies, and from 1700 to 1800 many laws were 
passed for their regulation. 

The longshoreman and the "hoveller" have 
nothing left in this line of business but the 
unconsidered trifles, the salving of flotsam and 
jetsam, and the collection of drift stuff under 
the eye of the Receiver of Wreck. The Deal 
lugger has given way now to a smaller type 
of boat, the galley punt, but in one of them the 
Kentish boatman still works on the old methods, 
earning his living and helping others as best 
he may. 

On the Norfolk coast the beachmen performed 
the same duties and services, but on more 
organised lines. They were formed into regular 
Beachman's Companies, some of which are still 
in existence. The vessels which they used re- 
sembled greatly the Deal luggers, but were not 
so bluff. The Yarmouth yawls were long, 
shallow, and fine, and they too were rigged with 
three masts. In the old days they were often 
over 50 feet in length. Just as the life-boat men 
of these coasts are descended from the beachmen 
of former years, so are the boats that they use 
developed directly from the Norfolk and Suffolk 


yawls. As a matter of fact, one of the earliest 
life-boats was built on these lines. We shall have 
more to say about it in its proper place. 

The first steps towards the organisation of a 
regular life-saving service at sea were taken 
almost simultaneously by England, France, 
and America. In 1765, a Monsieur Bernieres 
invented what must be acknowledged as the 
first life-boat designed and built upon principles 
which rendered her safer than other vessels. 
The inventor directed his attention towards the 
provision of a boat that would not sink when 
overloaded or filled with water, and that would 
not capsize even under the most adverse con- 
ditions. It is worthy of note that, although 
there is no evidence to show that the Bernieres 
invention was ever actually put to practical use, 
yet the non-capsizable principle is a feature of 
one class of French life-boats to the present day. 

The following account of the trial of Bernieres' 
boat was written a few years later. It is headed : 
" An account of several trials made on a boat or 
sloop fit for inland navigation, coasting voyages, 
and short passages by sea, which is not like 
ordinary vessels liable to be overset or sunk by 
winds, waves, water-spouts, or too heavy a 
load ; contrived and constructed by Monsieur 
Bernieres, Director of the Bridges and Causeways 
in France, etc. etc." 


" Some of these trials were made on the 
first of August 1777, at the gate of the Invalides 
in Paris, in the presence of the Provost, of the 
merchants, of the body of the town, and a 
numerous concourse of spectators of all con- 

66 The experiments were made in the way of 
comparison with another common boat of the 
same place, and of equal size. Both boats 
had been built ten years, and their exterior 
forms appeared to be exactly similar. The 
common boat contained only eight men, who 
rocked it and made it incline so much to one 
side that it presently filled with water, and 
sunk; so that the men were obliged to save 
themselves by swimming a thing common 
in all vessels of the same kind, whether from 
the imprudence of those who are in them, the 
strength of the waves or wind, or a violent 
and unexpected shock, their being overloaded, 
or overpowered in any other way. 

" The same men who had just escaped 
from the boat which sunk, got into the boat of 
M. Bernieres ; rocked it and filled it, as they 
had done the other, with water. But instead 
of sinking to the bottom, though brimful, 
it bore being rowed about the river, loaded as 
it was with men and water, without any danger 
to the people in it. 


" M. Bernieres carried the trial still further. 
He ordered a mast to be erected in this same 
boat, when filled with water ; and to the top 
of the mast had a rope fastened, and drawn till 
the end of the mast touched the surface of the 
river, so that the boat was entirely on one side, 
a position into which neither wind nor waves 
could bring her ; yet, as soon as the men who 
had hauled her into this situation let go the 
rope, the boat and mast recovered themselves 
perfectly in less than the quarter of a second ; 
a convincing proof that the boat could neither 
be sunk nor overturned, and that it afforded 
the greatest possible security in every way. 
These experiments appeared to give the greater 
pleasure to the public, as the advantages of the 
discovery are not only so sensible, but of the 
first importance to mankind." 

One feature of this boat's construction was 
the provision of air-boxes at either end, such 
as are in general use nowadays in almost all 
types of life-boat. She accommodated nine 

England's first step towards the establish- 
ment of a life-saving service may be considered 
to have been taken in 1774, when the Royal 
Humane Society came into being. It was, 
however, towards saving life by swimming and 
the resuscitation of the apparently drowned 




a Cork. b Airtight cases. E and F Airtight end cases. 
By permission of Messrs. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 

[From an engraving by Finden. 

The first life-boat station in the world. 


that this organisation directed and still directs 
its efforts. In the latter endeavour the example 
was followed of a similar society previously 
founded in Amsterdam, and it is noteworthy that 
in our own country its promoters had to face the 
strongest prejudice against any such attempts. 

The founding of the Royal Humane Society 
was followed eleven years later by the invention 
by Lionel Lukin of his insubmersible boat. 
Lukin was a coach-builder in Long Acre, and 
he patented his principle in November 1785. 
Like his predecessor Bernieres, Lukin intended 
in the first place to provide his boat with a 
reserve of buoyancy, so that she could keep 
afloat when overloaded or water-logged. Her 
stability was increased by the provision of a 
heavy iron keel, but this was not an essential 
part of his specification. He, too, relied on 
air-boxes at stem and stern, and, in addition, 
watertight compartments ran along inside the 
gunwale fore-and-aft. Outside was a belt or 
wale of solid cork (see Fig. 11). 

Figs. 2 and 3 in the plan are suggestions 
for alternative designs. 

Undoubtedly Lukin's project was not so 
much to save life at sea as to preserve it. His 
boat was not meant to be used as a life-boat 
in its accepted sense, but the features which it 
embodied were intended to be adaptable to 


any boat, thereby rendering it less likely to 
sink in a seaway. He chose a Norway yawl 
in the first instance as most suitable to his 
purposes, probably because of the reputation 
for seaworthiness that was enjoyed by these 
vessels. Thus it was that Lukin in his invention 
foreshadowed the principal features of a modern 

The exterior belt, or " gunnel " as he called 
it, of cork exists in a modified form in most of 
our English types, as do the end air-boxes and 
the fore-and-aft watertight compartments. In 
addition, his boat had the essential surf-boat 
form, since he chose the high-ended, round- 
bottomed Norway yawl as the original boat 
upon which to exploit his theories. The iron 
keel, too, is common to both the earliest and the 
most modern life-boats, but this is, in any case, 
a usual adjunct to a small sailing-vessel. 

In 1786, Archdeacon Sharp, one of the trus- 
tees of Lord Crewe's estate, instructed Lukin 
to apply his principles to a coble, which he 
sent to London for that purpose. This coble 
was the first life-boat to be stationed on any 
coast of the whole world. We have already 
mentioned the type of boat, and the reasons 
for the Archdeacon's choice can be readily 
understood. The coble has always been noted 
for its seaworthy qualities, and is especially 


suitable for launching in a surf. Even so far 
back as 1600 its ability was recognised, as may 
be seen from the following extract from a letter 
of about that date : 

" The boate ytself is built of wainscotte, 
and for shape excels all modeles for shippinge ; 
twoe men will easily carrye ytt on lande between 
them, yet are they so secure in them at sea, 
that some in a storme have lyved aboarde three 
dayes. Their greateste danger is nearest home, 
when the waves breake dangerouslye ; but 
they, acquainted with these seas, espyinge a 
broken wave reddy to overtake them, suddenly 
oppose the prowe or sharpe ende of theyre 
boat into yt, and mountinge to the top, descende 
downe as it were unto a valley, hoveringe untill 
they espye a whole wave come rowlinge, which 
they observe commonly to be an odde one ; 
whereupon mountinge wit their cobble as it 
were a great furious horse, they rowe with 
might and mayne, and together with that wave 
drive themselves on lande." 

The coble is shown in Fig. 12. The boat 
in question was successfully adapted and placed 
at Bamborough Castle, which thus became 
the first life-boat station that ever existed. The 
reasons for the uncommon use to which this 
castle was put must be briefly explained. In 
the year 1715, General Thomas Forster, the 


owner, forfeited the property. He was impli- 
cated in the Jacobite rebellion, and was deprived 
of his estates. General Forster's aunt had 
married Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, the Bishop 
of Durham, and he purchased the manor and 
castle of Bamborough from the Crown, and 
left them on his decease in 1720, with other 
valuable property, to be devoted to charitable 
purposes. When the Rev. John Sharp, D.D., 
succeeded to the Archdeaconry of Northumber- 
land and also to the trusteeship of these estates, 
he was animated by a desire to do something 
for the benefit of the shipwrecked sailor. He, 
therefore, repaired a portion of the castle, and 
made the following arrangements for the allevia- 
tion of their distress. In the first place, a con- 
stant watch was kept from the tower, and signals 
were made to the Holy Island fishermen when- 
ever a vessel was seen to be in danger. These 
men could put out when no boat could be 
launched from Bamborough. During bad 
weather two men patrolled the coast on horse- 
back, and gave immediate notice to the castle 
of any shipwreck. A bell was rung during 
fog, and a nine-pounder gun was fired every 
quarter of an hour. As we have seen, a life-boat 
was provided, as well as all manner of gear, 
tackles, anchors, warps, etc., for the use of 
stranded vessels. Shipwrecked sailors found 


a refuge in the castle, and, if need be, were enter- 
tained there for so long as a week, and the last 
offices were decently performed to the bodies 
>f the drowned who were cast ashore. 

In one of the minor dispositions we recognise 
a sign of the times. The gun was fired, not 
only to summon the fishermen to the work of 
rescue, but to notify as well the Customs' officers 
that their presence was needed to save the wreck 
from being plundered. 

These plans of Archdeacon Sharp are still 
carried out to this extent, that substantial 
support is given from the Trust Funds towards 
the maintenance of life-boats on the coast near 

It is to America that we must now turn. 
In 1785, the year of the registering of Lukin's 
patent, a small body of benevolent persons 
inaugurated the Massachusetts Humane Society. 
Its avowed object was to endeavour to allevi- 
ate the sufferings of those shipwrecked on the 
Massachusetts coast, and for this purpose small 
huts were built at various points. This society 
was the actual pioneer of maritime life-saving 
in America. It continued its good work, and 
established the first life-boat station nearly a 
quarter of a century later. 

Having brought our history of the inception 
of a maritime life-saving service thus far, we 


must deal with its development in each country 
separately. In Great Britain and America, at 
any rate, it has progressed on widely different 
lines, while the rest of the world has, in the 
main, either adopted or adapted our English 
methods. The coincidence of the simultaneous 
awakening of at least three countries to the 
necessity for some efforts of the kind was doubt- 
less due in part to a more enlightened view 
of a nation's humane obligations. But the 
first cause is probably to be found in the fact 
that during the years 1784 to 1789 nearly the 
whole world was at peace, and that England, 
France, and America were able to devote to 
schemes for the preservation of human life the 
attention that before had been fully occupied 
with other matters. 



IN order to understand clearly the develop- 
ment of a particular type, it is as well to confine 
one's attention to that type alone. To consider 
at the same time either subsidiary or contem- 
porary models will only confuse. We will, 
therefore, follow up in this chapter the story of 
the self-righting life-boat, and leave all other 
inventions, whether useful or impracticable, for 
future consideration. 

The history of the life-boat in England is, 
to a large extent, the history of a series of com- 
petitions. They were promoted by various 
bodies or individuals for the purpose of dis- 
covering the best means of overcoming the diffi- 
culties that faced them in their philanthropic 
efforts. A wreck on the Herd Sand in 1789 
was the inspiring cause of the first of these 
competitions, just as another wreck on the 
same bank brought about the great competition 
of 1850. In consequence of a bar of sand 
which stretches across the mouth of the Tyne, 



the entrance to Shields harbour was very 
dangerous, with the wind blowing hard from 
the eastward and a heavy sea running. To 
the south lies the Herd Sand, and the Black 
Middens to the north. In crossing this bar 
a vessel would often strike or broach to, and, 
rendered thus unmanageable, she was almost 
certain, with a flood tide, to be driven on to 
the Herd Sand. 

This happened in the case of the Adventure, 
of Newcastle, on 15th March 1789. Although 
she was within a quarter of a mile of the shore, 
no assistance could be rendered in consequence 
of the violence of the sea. The waves made 
a clean breach over the vessel, she was beaten 
to pieces on the sands, and one by one her 
crew were seen to fall from the rigging and 
to perish. The tragedy was enacted in the 
presence of a crowd of people, and the terrible 
circumstances aroused so much sympathy that 
the subscribers to the News Room near the Lawe 
at South Shields were induced to take steps to 
provide against future disasters. These " Gentle- 
men of the Lawe House," as they styled them- 
selves, inserted an advertisement in the New- 
castle Courant offering a premium of two guineas 
for a model or plans of a boat which would 
not be liable to be overset by the sea, and which, 
moreover, would retain its buoyancy when 


manned and when nearly full of water. A 
committee was appointed to devise the best 
means of accomplishing the object of the sub- 
scribers, and to it two models were submitted. 

We know already the principle upon which 
the design of Mr. William Wouldhave was 
founded. The model was constructed of tin, 
the intention being that the boat built from it 
should be of copper. She had a straight keel 
with high stem and stern, airtight cases at either 
end containing cork, cork along either gunwale 
inboard, and considerable sheer. On being cap- 
sized she immediately righted herself. The 
model submitted by Henry Greathead, on the 
other hand, was raft-like in design. It was 
built of wood, and unfortunately it floated 
bottom up when intentionally overturned. 
Wouldhave, who by the way was a local painter 
and a poor man, called his vessel a " cork-boat." 
As a result, Wouldhave received half the award, 
namely one guinea, for his trouble ; and Great- 
head, who was a boat-builder, was promised 
that he should be entrusted with the construction 
of the first vessel. 

There has always been considerable differ- 
ence of opinion as to which of these two men 
should really be credited with the invention of 
the life-boat, and seventeen years later an 
animated controversy on the subject was 


carried on in the pages of the Gentleman's 
Magazine, in which Lukin himself took a part. 
The following version of the inception of the 
design of the first life-boat was written some 
years later, and is of interest, since the author 
advocates the advantages of the Norway yawl 
quite independently and as an outcome of his 
own personal experience of that type of vessel : 
" A short time afterwards a model in clay 
was produced by Mr. Fairies and Mr. Rock- 
wood, two members of the committee, and 
from this Mr. Greathead was directed to build 
a life-boat ; and it is said that the only altera- 
tion suggested by Mr. Greathead was the curved 
keel, which some persons are pleased to consider 
as an error in its construction, although experi- 
ence in this instance appears to be at variance 
with hypothesis. Although the invention has 
been confidently claimed for Mr. Wouldhave, 
yet the precise figure of his intended life-boat 
has never been clearly explained by any of his 
advocates. The life-boat built by Greathead 
was neither formed of copper, nor had she a 
straight keel, which were both peculiar to 
Wouldhave' s invention ; and the plan of casing 
and lining with cork, without which the life- 
boat would be comparatively valueless, unless 
provided with air-boxes instead, was proposed by 
Greathead when he produced his first model. 


Reproduced from " The Life-Boat and its Work " (Clowes & Sons), 
by Permission of Sir John Cameron Lamb, C,B., C.M.G. 

[From an engraving by Finden. 



A large Norway yawl, raised a streak in mid- 
ships, having her sheer increased towards the 
bow and stern, and cased and lined with cork, in 
the manner of Greathead's life-boat, would be 
likely to live in broken water as well as the latter." 

Mr. N. Fairies himself, in Surtees' History 
of Durham, comments on the subject as follows. 
He was the chairman of the committee which 
ordered the first life-boat to be built. 

" The committee was unanimous that a 
boat somewhat resembling a Norway yawl, with 
both ends alike, having great spring or elevation 
at the bow and stern, and with the bottom flatter, 
might answer the purpose. The description 
which Mr. Rockwood gave of a boat by which 
he had been saved at Memel, tended much to 
establish the opinion of the committee ; and 
a model in clay was handed about, and altered 
from time to time for the explanation of ideas." 

It is quite certain at any rate that Greathead 
built the boat at the committee's instructions, 
and that she was placed at the mouth of the 
Tyne. She was called the Original, and was thus 
described : 

Feet. Inches. 

" Length from stem to stem .... SO 

Breath in midships 10 

Depth in midships from gunwale to keel . 3 3 

Depth in midships from gunwale to floor . 2 4 
Height of each stem above the lowest part 

of the keel 5 9 


" Her sides from the floor-heads to the gun- 
wale ' flaunched off,' or extended outwards, in 
proportion to rather more than half the breadth 
of the floor, thus making her broad in the beam, 
compared with the fineness of her bottom. Her 
breadth was well continued towards her ex- 
tremities, thus giving her good bearings at the 
bows ; and her sheer was considerably increased 
towards each stem, in order that they might 
the better divide an overtopping wave, and thus 
prevent the boat shipping water when rowed 
against a head sea; a casing of cork, 16 in. 
deep from the gunwale and 4 in. thick extended 
for 21 ft. 6 in. along each top-side, giving her 
at once additional buoyancy, and serving as a 
fender should her side come in contact with the 
side of a ship. 

" The inside of the boat, from the thwarts to 
the floor, was also lined with cork in a similar 
manner. She was built of oak, and was copper- 
fastened ; the quantity of cork used in lining and 
casing her weighed 7 cwt. She had six thwarts 
for rowers, which, from her breadth, held two 
men each ; and she thus rowed twelve oars, 
six on each side. The oars were not worked 
in ' rowlocks ' or between ' thowls ' as in most 
other boats, but a small ring of rope, called a 
grummet, being passed loosely over the loom 
of each oar, was afterwards slipped over an 


upright iron pin, which thus formed the fulcrum 
for the rower's stroke. The rower, by this 
means, could occasionally leave his oar without 
its being broken or unshipped." 

She was provided with no means of freeing 
herself of water. Her total cost was a little 
over 76. 

On 30th January 1790 she was put to the test. 
A vessel was again stranded on the Herd Sand, 
and, in the presence of hundreds of people the 
Original was launched to the rescue, and brought 
;he whole crew ashore in safety. She continued 
on the station until 1830, doing fine service, and 
was finally lost herself on the Black Middens. 

Of the development of the " Shields type " 
we shall have more to say later, when we deal 
with the work of the Tyne Life-Boat Society. 

In 1798 the Duke of Northumberland ordered 
two boats to be built by Greathead to the same 
designs. One of them he stationed at North 
Shields, and the other he presented to the town 
of Oporto in Portugal. Two years later, a Mr. 
Cathcart Dempster ordered a similar boat for 
St. Andrews in Scotland, and altogether, from 
1798 to 1803, Greathead built thirty-one of them, 
eighteen for England, five for Scotland, and eight 
for foreign countries. In 1802 the Society of Arts 
gave Greathead an award of a gold medal and 
sixty guineas, and Parliament voted him 1200. 


Charnock concludes his wonderful History of 
Marine Architecture with the following passage. 
It was written only a few years after the events 
above recorded, and is of considerable interest as 
being the considered opinion of a contemporary 

" The conclusion of this catalogue," he 
writes, " cannot take place with the description 
of any vessel whose existence shall be more 
consonant to the feelings of humanity and the 
voice of philanthropy than the life-boat, as it is 
appositely called, built under the inspection and 
by the subscription of a few private persons at 
South Shields, who had been the immediate 
spectators of the many dreadful disasters which 
had overwhelmed ships driven on the sands at 
the southern entrance of Tynemouth harbour, 
for the truly valuable purpose of attempting the 
preservation of persons so unfortunately circum- 
stanced. A boat was accordingly built about 
30 feet in length and 10 feet broad, the sides 
flamming out for the purpose of preventing the 
broken waves from running into the boat. It 
was decked at the floor-heads, rowed with twelve 
oars, and steered also by one ; it was covered 
with cork on the outside, two or three streaks 
down from the gunwale, and was found to 
answer the expected purpose so fully that 
though cork jackets were, for the production of 


the greater safety, purchased for all the people 
when the boat was first employed, they were 
almost immediately disregarded and after a very 
short time never taken to sea. 

" The success of this most amiably noble 
measure' caused it to be followed by his Grace 
the Duke of Northumberland, who, of his own 
expense, caused a second boat to be built on the 
same construction, and by the united efforts of 
the philanthropic colleagues the lives of some 
hundreds of persons have already been fortu- 
nately preserved, who would otherwise have fallen 
victims to the rage of the ocean. 

" Success in one respect rarely fails to excite 
envy, or, at least, to use a more benevolent and 
certainly more appropriate term in the present 
circumstances, emulation. A boat was built in 
the river Thames, having the space under the 
thwarts boarded up and rendered watertight, 
by which means, though the boat itself should be 
filled with water, the vacuum or empty space 
whither it could not penetrate would prove such 
a counterpoise of flotation to the weight of the 
rowers as would prevent the boat itself from 

" A variety of contrivances, all tending to 
the same point, suggested by several ingenious 
persons, appeared in different quarters about 
the same time, but the distinguishing points 


are so immaterial as to render any specific 
explanation unnecessary." 

The last reference is, of course, to Lukin's 
boat, which was tested on the Thames. 

The next important event in the history 
of the life-boat was the building at Lowestoft 
in 1807, under Lukin's superintendence, of the 
forerunner of the Norfolk and Suffolk class of 
vessel. We will talk about this, however, when 
giving details of the development of the non- 
self-righting and other types. 

In 1810, 1814, and 1817 the Society of Arts 
gave premiums for the invention of various 
contrivances which were, however, of little 
real value. In 1821, Captain Manby, the in- 
ventor of the mortar apparatus, reported as 
follows upon the state of the English life-boat 
service : 

" From a consideration." he says, " of its 
vast importance, I have devoted much of my 
attention to produce boats calculated in any 
weather to rescue lives and property from 
wrecked vessels, convinced as I was, from my 
own experience, during my visits to different 
parts of the coast (when honoured with the 
commands of Government to take a survey 
of the coast, with a view to the establishment 
of a system of escape from shipwreck), that 
no such boats were yet in existence. The boat, 


generally called the life-boat, though admirably 
calculated for particular services, is so large 
and cumbrous, that it is at times very difficult 
to convey it to the point of danger ; and its 
unwieldy size exposes it so much to the force 
of the winds and waves, that to get it off from 
a flat beach in a storm is utterly unpracticable. 
It differs also much in its construction from 
that particular form of boat which obtains in 
different maritime districts, to which, it is 
well known, those who use it are stubbornly 
attached, and in which alone they possess skill 
and feel confidence. These and other causes 
have not only thrown the life-boat into disuse, 
but have produced such a neglect of it, that 
in some places I found it decaying, and, in 
others, actually gone to decay and falling to 

Captain Manby's proposed alternative method 
of taking a boat off to a wreck is shown in Fig. 15. 
This engraving is taken from his actual report. 

This brings us to the year 1824, the most 
important date in our history, in that it saw 
the birth of the Royal National Institution for 
the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck, now 
the Royal National Life-Boat Institution. After 
a preliminary discussion in February at the 
London Tavern, a public meeting was convened 
on 4th March for the purpose of founding the 


Society. Sir William Hilary was the prime 
mover in the undertaking, and the Archbishop of 
Canterbury (Dr. Manners Sutton) presided over 
the gathering. His Majesty, King George IV., 
became patron ; the Dukes of York, Sussex, 
Clarence, and Cambridge, and Prince Leopold, 
vice-patrons ; the Earl of Liverpool, first presi- 
dent; and Mr. Wilson, chairman of the committee. 
During the first year of its existence the Institu- 
tion flourished and did good work. It collected 
nearly 10,000 and placed twelve boats at 
various points along the coast, supplementary 
to the thirty-nine vessels then existing. During 
the years, too, from 1825 to 1828 it supplied 
more boats to various stations. Three of these 
were on what was then called Greathead's plan, 
and were built by Skelton of Scarborough. 
Twelve were built from the designs of a Mr. 
Plenty, and two more from those of Mr. Palmer. 
The first thing to which the committee of 
the Institution turned its attention was the 
discovery of the ideal form of life-boat, and 
the plans of Mr. Pellew Plenty, of Newbury, 
Berkshire, seem to have been the first to command 
its favour. This boat was described as approach- 
ing in form to that of a wherry, having great 
fulness in the midships section extended some 
distance forward and aft. The dimensions of 
the different boats varied, but the 24-foot boat 



had a beam of 8 feet and a depth of 3 feet ; she 
drew only 16 inches of water. Thus in length and 
draught she was proportionately the same as 
a typical Norfolk wherry, but of half the size, 
and her beam was largely increased. The Nor- 
folk wherry carries her greatest width well 
forward, and is similarly rigged with a single 
lugsail. This type of wherry, however, buries 
itself in a sea-way, being intended solely for 
inland waters, and it is probable, therefore, 
that the term was used merely in its generic 
sense to mean a light, open boat used both for 
rowing and sailing. 

Of course the seaworthiness and stiffness of 
Plenty's boat were due to her immense beam. 


She was insubmersible rather than self-righting, 
and the large longitudinal air-cases and thick 
layer of cork along the bottom gave her a very 
great reserve of buoyancy. She was provided 
with six scuppers to free the water, but these 
were by no means adequate. 

One would judge, however, that the Palmer 
boat was a far more useful type, and its record 
goes far to prove its efficiency. Mr. George 
Palmer, of Nazing Park, Essex, was a gentleman 
of high position, who devoted a very large pro- 
portion of his time to furthering the interests 
of the Institution. He became connected with 
it in 1826, and served for very many years as 


its deputy - chairman. His boat, however, was 
adopted previously. She was of wholesome, 
whale-boat shape, sharp-ended and rounded in 
section, and was fitted with three air- cases on 
either side, as well as one in the bow and two 
in the stern. She had, moreover, four tin " gun- 
wale cases " which were placed high to prevent 
her capsizing, and to assist her to right if she 
should be turned over. Like the original 
French boat of Bernieres, she could be hove 
right down by her mast and yet recover her 
upright position. She had four scuppers, but 
no further means of freeing herself properly 
of surplus water. The self -baling principle 
came later. Her dimensions were 26 ft. 8 in. 
in length by 6 ft. 2 in. in beam. This boat 
was undoubtedly a fine one in all respects, 
and she behaved well under strenuous con- 
ditions when tested. In June 1828 she was 
adopted by the Institution as a standard type, 
and was supplied to stations up to 1852. 

From 1828 onwards the fortunes of 
the Institution were on the wane, and all 
interest in the work seems to have gradually 
died away. Even in the second year of its 
existence its collections dwindled to less than 
3500. In 1832 the annual receipts had fallen 
to a little over 300. From 1841 to 1849 no 
reports were issued or appeals made, and in the 


years 1849 and 1850 only 354 were collected. 
It had placed Manby's wreck-gun apparatus 
at sixteen stations, but it even abandoned these 
methods for want of funds. Outside efforts, 
however, continued to be made, and the year 
1840 saw the foundation of a strong life-boat 
service under the auspices of the Liverpool Dock 
Trust. The boats built to the order of this 
corporation were the forerunners of the splendid 
Liverpool type, with which we shall deal in its 
proper place. The Isle of Man District Life- 
Boat Association was founded by Sir William 
Hilary in 1826, and four boats were built and 
placed at Douglas Bay, Castleton, Peel, and 
Ramsey during the three following years. 

In 1849 the affairs of the Institution had 
dwindled to such an extent that it is doubtful 
if it possessed a dozen useful boats. Then 
came the second famous wreck on the Herd 
Sand, which roused public interest to such 
good effect that the movement was given an 
impetus which has never since failed to carry it 
forward. On 4th December of that year, the 
brig Betsy of Littlehampton was wrecked on 
the same ill-fated spot as the unfortunate 
Adventure. The life-boat put out to her aid, 
manned by a crew of twenty-four pilots. She 
capsized, being actually thrown end-over-end 
and turning a complete somersault. No fewer 


than twenty of the brave men lost their lives. 
The sympathy aroused by this disaster was 
widespread and far-reaching in its results. It led 
not only to the enlisting of the practical interest 
of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, but to what 
was perhaps the most important event in the 
history of the Institution. Algernon, the fourth 
Duke of Northumberland, the man who above all 
others was fitted for the post by his inclinations 
and character, became its second president. In 
addition, the Prince Consort and the King of 
the Belgians became patrons. It would be im- 
possible to overrate the value of the assistance 
of the " Sailor Duke " in placing the affairs of the 
Institution upon a sound basis, and forwarding 
not only its own interests, but the interests of 
the life-saving movement throughout the world. 

In order now to understand the few simple 
technicalities which are unavoidable in tracing 
further the development of the life-boat, it will 
be well to refer to the marked photographs 
which we insert here for this purpose. 

The illustrations in Fig. 16 give details of 
a modern self-righting life-boat. 

a.a. are the end air-cases, or end-boxes. They are air- 
tight and watertight compartments, of which the 
value lies in their extreme buoyancy. 

b.b. are the side air-cases, above the deck, and similar in 
construction and principle ; in the picture they are 
covered by wooden slats. 


S3 O 

w > 


c.c. are water ballast tanks. 

d.d. are the relieving tubes for freeing the boat of water 

that is shipped. 

c.c. are the thwarts or seats for the rowers. 
/. is the exterior " wale " or fender. 
g.g. are the life-lines looped round the boat. 
h.h. is the line of the deck. 

The first acts of the Duke of Northumberland 
as President of the Royal National Life-Boat 
Institution were to offer a prize of one hundred 
guineas for an improved life-boat, and to appoint 
a committee of real experts to examine the 
models and to report. A circular was issued 
advertising the competition, and, so well does 
it exemplify the knowledge and foresight of 
the Committee, that we do not hesitate to 
quote from it at length. It commenced as 
follows : 

" Great loss of life having occurred from time 
to time on the coast of Northumberland and else- 
where by the upsetting of life-boats, and especially 
in the case of the Shields life-boat in December 
last, whereby twenty pilots were drowned, 
notice is hereby given that, with a view to the 
improvement of boats to be employed for such 
purposes, His Grace the Duke of Northumber- 
land offers the sum of one hundred guineas for 
the best model of a life-boat, which may be 
sent to the Surveyor's Department, Admiralty, 
Somerset House, London, by 1st February 1851. 



It is considered that the great objections to 
the present life-boats, generally speaking, are : 

"1. That they do not right themselves in the 
event of being upset. 

"2. That they are too heavy to be readily 
launched and transported along the coast in 
case of need. 

" 3. That they do not free themselves of water 
fast enough. 

"4. That they are very expensive." 

In order to judge the various models, the 
Committee agreed upon certain points which 
they considered essential qualities of a life-boat, 
and apportioned values to them as follows : 

" Qualities as a rowing-boat in all weathers . 

Qualities as a sailing-boat ..... 

Qualities as a sea-boat as stability, safety, buoy- 
ancy forward for launching through a surf, etc. 

Small internal capacity for water up to level of 
thwarts ........ 

Means of freeing boat of water readily 

Extra buoyancy ; its nature, amount, distribution, 
and mode of application ..... 

Power of self-righting ..... 

Suitableness for beaching 

Room for and power of carrying passengers 

Moderate rate of transport along shore 

Protection of injury to bottom .... 

Ballast as iron (1), water (2), cork (3) . 

Access to stem or stern ..... 

Timber heads for securing warps to 

Fenders, life-lines, etc 




The report explained to some extent how 
these values were arrived at. 

" It will be seen by the above formula that 
the Committee consider it an essential requisite 
in a life-boat that she should be a good rowing- 
boat, able to get off the beach in any weather 
in which a boat can live at sea, as without the 
power of doing this other good qualities are of 
no avail. To this, then, is awarded the highest 
number. As on the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, 
where the wrecks generally occur on outlying 
sands, all the life-boats go off under sail, and as 
it was evident some of the best models were 
prepared with this view, it was considered that 
these also were entitled to be placed on a par 
with boats built chiefly for pulling ; but as 
rowing is the general rule around the coasts and 
sailing the exception, a slight difference was 
made in favour of the former." 

The success of the competition was immediate, 
and bore witness to the extraordinary interest 
aroused. No less than two hundred and eighty 
models were sent to Somerset House, and of 
these thirty-seven were selected, upon which 
the Committee reported. Thirteen sets of draw- 
ings, moreover, were reproduced, and the list of 
names of those submitting them comprised most 
of those which were noted in connection with life- 
boat work. Six of these models, which stood 


first on the list, were afterwards placed side 
by side for further consideration, and their 
various points were examined and compared. As 
a result, the prize was awarded to Mr. James 
Beeching of Great Yarmouth, whose model 
obtained eighty-four marks out of the one hundred 
that could be gained. 

Fifty of the models were sent to the Great 
Exhibition of 1851. The greater number of those 
exhibited took for their common principle of 
buoyancy the construction of an airtight lining 
in the interior of the boat the space between 
the outward and the inward sides of the vessel 
gradually widening until a very broad gunwale 
was formed. In some the airtight cell was 
placed lower, running in the form of a square 
or circular box round the boat, but beneath 
the thwarts. A few specimens were fitted with 
cork belts which, it was claimed, would keep 
the boat nearly as buoyant as airtight tanks 
would do, and had the additional advantage 
of not being rendered useless by an accidental 
blow. This danger, however, was guarded 
against by the construction of several airtight 
compartments any of which, it was said, would 
suffice to keep the boat with her crew above 
water. There were several models of so-called 
surf-boats, built open beneath, the buoyant 
agency being placed entirely in the sides, thus 


letting the seas break in and out, the level in 
the water of the boat being never altered. The 
bottoms of some of the life - boats consisted 
merely of cross-bars on which to rest the men's 
feet ; while in others there was a flat flooring, 
only connected by pins and bars with the closed 
sides of the boat. The long shallow shape of 
the boats was universal ; and they were con- 
structed alike at stem and stern. A few had 
rudders fitted, but oar-steering was more gener- 
ally adopted ; the rowing-oars were generally 
attached to pins on the gunwales so as to allow 
them to swing. 

It is worthy of note that in one life-boat the 
planks, instead of running fore-and-aft, were 
laid diagonally across from the gunwale to the 
keel. This is the method adopted in building 
at the present day, double diagonal planking 
being used. 


The official description of the prize boat 
r as as follows : " The body of this boat is of 
the form usually given to a whale-boat a 
slightly rounded floor, sides round in the fore- 
and-aft direction, upright stem and stern post, 
clench-built, of wainscot oak and iron fastened. 
Length, extreme, 36 ft. ; of keel, 31 ft. ; breadth 
of beam, 9| ft. ; depth, 3| ft. ; sheer of gunwale, 
36 in. ; rake of stem and stern post, 5 in. ; straight 
keel, 8 in. deep. The boat has seven thwarts 


27 in. apart, 7 in. below the gunwale, and 18 in. 
above the floor ; pulls twelve oars, double-banked, 
with pins and grummets. A cork fender, 6 in. 
wide by 8 in. deep, runs round outside at 7 in. 
below the gunwale. Extra buoyancy is given 
by air-cases 20 in. high in the bottom of the 
boat under the flat ; round part of the sides, 
24 in. wide by 18 in. deep, up to the level of 
the thwarts, leaving 10 ft. free amidships ; and 
in the head and stern sheets for a length of 8| ft., 
to the height of the gunwale ; the whole divided 
into compartments and built into the boat ; 
also by the cork fenders. Effective extra buoy- 
ancy, 200 cubic ft., equal to 8| tons. For 
ballast, a water tank divided into compartments, 
placed in the bottom amidships, 14 ft. long 
by 5 ft. wide, and 15 in. high, containing 77 
cubic ft., equal to 2j tons when full, and an 
iron keel of 10 cwt. Internal capacity of boat 
under the level of the thwarts, 176 cubic ft., 
equal to 5 tons. Means of freeing the boat of 
water, tubes through the bottom, eight of 6 in. 
diameter, and four of 4 in. diameter total area, 
276 sq. in., which is to the capacity in the pro- 
portion of 276 to 17,600, or as 1 to 64. Provision 
for righting the boat if upset, 2J tons of water 
ballast, an iron keel, and raised air-cases in 
the head and stern sheets. Rig, lug foresail and 
mizzen ; to be steered by a rudder ; no timber 



heads for securing a warp to. Draft of water with 
thirty persons on board, 26 in. Weight of boat, 
50 cwt. ; of gear, 17 cwt. ; total, 67 cwt. Would 
carry seventy persons. Cost, with gear, 2501. 

" The form given to this boat would make 
her efficient either for pulling or sailing in all 
weathers ; she would prove a good sea - boat, 
and in places such as Yarmouth, where there 
are always plenty of hands to launch a boat, 
her weight would cause no difficulty. By 
means of the raised air-cases placed at the 
extremes, the absence of side air-cases for a 
length of 10 ft. amidships, the introduction of 
2| tons of water ballast into her bottom when 
afloat, and her iron keel, this boat would right 
herself in the event of being capsized ; although 
from the form given to her it is highly improb- 
able that such an accident would occur. 

A passage should be left in the air-cases 
to approach the stem and stern, for on many 
occasions the only way in which a life-boat 
can go near a wreck is end-on, when the crew 
of it must be received either over the stem or 
the stern. The deep keel, 8 in., however favour- 
able for sailing, for steadying her in a sea-way, 
and for aiding her in righting, would be a dis- 
advantage in beaching, and would render the 
boat more difficult to turn in case of wishing to 
place her end-on to a heavy roller coming in. 


" The area of the delivering valves is large in 
proportion to the internal capacity, and would 
rapidly free the boat of water, down to the level 
of her draught, which, with her crew on board, 
would not be to less than a depth of some inches 
above the floor. The air-cases are built into 
the boat, which renders them liable to accidents ; 
if this were remedied and her internal capacity 
reduced, a 30-ft. or 32-ft. boat built on similar 
lines, with her internal fittings slightly modified, 
would make an efficient life-boat, adapted for 
many parts of the coast." 

Beeching built a boat on these lines for the 
Harbour Trustees of Ramsgate. In November 
1851 she made a trial trip out to the Goodwin 
Sands, and proved herself of the most extra- 
ordinary qualities as a sea-boat. Captain Charl- 
wood, the inspecting commander of the district of 
the Coastguard, with Lieutenant Simmons and 
Mr. M'Donald, the master of the Rose Revenue 
cutter, and a crew of fourteen picked men, 
went out in her to the Goodwins, where she was 
placed in such positions as to allow the surf 
to have the greatest effect upon her. Nothing 
could exceed the admirable style in which she 
behaved ; and enough was seen to satisfy the 
officers and men who were in her that she would 
weather the most tempestuous sea. Her sailing 
qualities were also tested with the most success- 

* I 

^ ?! 

?5 ** 

3 o 



r > 


f ul results ; indeed, it was said that if it were 
possible to throw her on her beam ends, she 
would not go over. Such was her buoyancy 
that, when filled with water, she cleared herself 
to the grating in about twelve seconds. The 
Ramsgate Trustees purchased her, and she was 
an unqualified success. 

The self-righting principle of Beeching remains 
in favour up to the present day, although, of 
course, the details of construction are consider- 
ably altered. Unfortunately the inventor him- 
self introduced a modification which quite pos- 
sibly was a contributing cause to the disasters 
to two of his boats in the following year. He 
turned the end air-boxes into store lockers, so 
that they opened with doors instead of being 
airtight as in the original model. The boats 
in question, one of which was stationed at Rhyl 
and the other at Lytham, both capsized and 
several lives were lost. 

The controversy as to the respective merits 
of self-righting and non-self-righting boats had 
already begun, and these accidents revived it. 
It lasted for more than fifty years, and has only 
recently been ended. The immediate result, 
however, of the failure of these two vessels was 
the birth of the Institution's standard self- 
righting life-boat. 

To resume our historical notes, it was in 1854 


that the Institution adopted its present title, 
the Royal National Life-Boat Institution. It 
was incorporated under charter by that name in 
1860. In 1869 it declined further assistance from 
funds raised by taxation, which had taken the 
form during fifteen years of a payment from the 
Mercantile Marine Fund of the Board of Trade. 

In 1865 the Institution introduced designs 
for decked " safety " fishing-boats, which were 
adopted by fishermen and led to considerable 
reduction in the annual loss of life. 

The " Fifies " of Scotland were up till 1867 
entirely open except for a cabin forward, this 
in spite of the fact that they were as much 
as 40 feet in length. The fishermen gradually 
recognised how much they gained in comfort 
and safety by decking their boats, and adopted 
the Institution's plans. 


From Manly 's design, by permission of 
t/ie Royal Humane Society. 



ONE of the models in the Northumberland 
competition had been submitted by a Mr. James 
Peake of Woolwich Dockyard. However, this 
gentleman was a member of the Committee 
of Management of the Institution, and his plans 
did not compete for the prize. The Committee, 
not being entirely satisfied with Beeching's 
model, determined to take steps to improve 
upon it, and to attain to perfection, as near 
as might be, in their standard pattern. They 
disapproved, for instance, of air-chambers and 
water ballast tanks being fitted down in the 
bottom of the boat. 

In order to make the best possible use of the 
results of the competition, they instructed Mr. 
Peake to build a boat comprising the best points 
of all the models. He prepared his plans, and 
the Admiralty ordered a vessel to be built from 
them at Woolwich Dockyard. In shape she 
resembled closely Mr. Beeching's model, but 
in other respects the two differed widely. Mr. 



Peake retained the air-boxes at the ends and 
along the gunwales, but substituted cork below 
the deck. He believed that it would act both 
as ballast and as an agent for buoyancy should 
the bottom be stove in. The boat carried no 
water ballast. Her dimensions were : length, 
30 ft. ; length on keel, 24 ft. ; beam, 8f ft. ; depth, 
3| ft. She pulled ten oars and had a 4-inch 
cork fender extending fore and aft on either 
side. She had considerable sheer, and em- 
bodied the self-righting principle in its entirety 
from her appearance one might almost say to 

This first boat was placed on the North- 
umberland coast, and after undergoing many 
trials and alterations was presented to the 
Duke of Northumberland. He afterwards built 
three to these designs of Mr. Peake' s, and one 
to those of Mr. Beeching. From this Peake 
boat was evolved by improvement the original 
standard self-righter of the Institution, which 
held the field up till the early eighties. 

This standard Institution's boat had finer 
and more rounded ends than that of Mr. Peake, 
and was altogether more sightly and sweeter 
in line and model. She was fuller in section 
and flatter in floor. Side and end air-cases 
were provided, and the spaces below the deck 
were filled with light blocks of wood or cork 


as ballast. She had an iron keel of about 8 cwt., 
and there were six relieving tubes to free the 
boat of water. Her dimensions were 30 ft. 
in length by 7 ft. 6 in. beam ; depth, 3 ft. 4 in. 
From this time on, the self-righter has been 
gradually improved and adapted until the attain- 
ment of the present pattern. 

In 1883 the righting power was increased. 
Up till then it had been considered sufficient 
test if the boat righted when empty of gear ; 
for the next four years she was expected to 
recover if capsized with everything aboard 
except the sails. The following year saw the 
return to the use of water ballast tanks in 
certain vessels, and, nowadays, it is left to the 
wishes of the crew whether this method of 
ballasting is adopted or no. It is suited to some 
localities, but in others it is unnecessary, since, 
where a slip-way is employed for launching, the 
weight is better applied in the form of an iron 
keel. In the same year the sliding keel was 
first adopted. 

At the International Fisheries Exhibition 
a self-righter of the Royal National Life-Boat 
Institution gained the prize of 600 for the 
best coastal life -boat. The trials took place 
at Brighton, the competing vessels being a 
coast life-boat built by Messrs. Forrestt & Son 
of Limehouse, a boat known as the Timmis- 


Hodgson patent reversible life-boat, and the 
Rescue, a standard self-righter of the Institu- 
tion. The boats were launched with a stiff 
southerly breeze and a heavy sea, and manoeuvred 
in the presence of the adjudicating committee 
for about an hour. 

During 1886 there were three serious acci- 
dents to self-righting boats. On January 7th 
the Whitehaven boat was thrown upon her 
beam ends when anchored off a distressed 
vessel. However, she righted and one man 
only was drowned. This was followed on 
9th December by a very sad catastrophe. 
Three life-boats, the Southport, the St. Anne's, 
and the Lytham, had proceeded to the wreck 
of the barque Mexico in a very heavy gale of 
wind. The Southport boat was driven back 
time after time, but at last she succeeded in 
getting within 30 yards of the wreck. Then 
suddenly over she went on a tremendous sea 
and failed to recover. Thirteen poor fellows 
were drowned, as well as Charles Hodge, the 
coxswain, and only three were saved. The 
St. Anne's boat tried her utmost to effect a 
rescue, but she was no more fortunate. She 
capsized as well, and the whole of her crew was 
lost, consisting of the coxswain Johnson and 
twelve men. The Lytham boat was a new 
one in fact she had only been on the station a 


. , 


week. However, she succeeded where the others 
failed, and rescued the barque's crew of twelve 
in all. 

These disasters revived the battle between 
the advocates of the two rival principles, and 
led to a further revision in 1887 by the Institu- 
tion of the whole question. From that time on, 
the test has been that a boat must right with 
her full crew aboard, with water tanks full or 
empty, and even with the sails set, the fore- 
sheet being free. To attain this end, the 
capacity of the air-chambers in stem and stern 
was largely increased, the iron keel was made 
heavier, and in some cases the beam of the 
boats was decreased. New systems, too, were 
tried of carrying the water ballast, but the 
old arrangement was subsequently found to be 
the best. 

It should be borne in mind, however, that 
in spite of all this agitation, the figures show 
that up till that time there had been only 
forty-one capsizes in the sixty-four years of the 
Institution's existence, and on only eighteen 
of these occasions had life been lost. Including 
those who perished in the Southport disaster, 
only eighty-eight men had been drowned, of 
whom twelve were rescued seamen. 

It was in 1887 that the Committee of 
Management decided to appoint a Consulting 


Naval Architect, and their choice fell upon Mr. G. 
L. Watson, the famous yacht designer. Three 
years later he produced, at the Committee's 
instructions, the plans of the well-known non- 
self-righting boat which has since been called 
by his name. The adoption of his plans in 
November 1890 marked an epoch in the history 
of the life-boat, but it in no way implied that 
the self-righting principle was to be condemned 
or superseded. Mr. Watson's own opinion, after 
years of experience of both types, was that the 
existing self-righter could not be improved, and 
that its principles could not be abandoned in 
the smaller vessels. For the larger sailing-boats, 
however, he considered that a better class of 
vessel was obtained by adopting the new plans. 

As a matter of fact, there has been a further 
development in the self-righter since that day 
in the shape of the light Rubie boat, designed 
by Mr. Rubie, the Institution's Surveyor. It 
shows modifications in the arrangement of the 
ballast tanks, and of the relieving apparatus. 
The water ballast is admitted automatically on 
launching, and, being low down, it adds greatly 
to the vessel's power. 

The first Watson boat was 43 ft. long, by 
12 ft. 8 in. beam, with 5 ft. llj in. depth 
amidships. She had low end boxes, not for 
righting purposes, but in order to decrease the 


space that could be filled by shipping a sea. 
Her cork wale was 15 in. by 6 in., and she had 
no fewer than fourteen relieving tubes. Her 
ballasting arrangements were six water tanks 
and a lead keel 3 tons 2 cwt. in weight. She 
was fitted with a drop keel, and rigged with 
fore and mizen lugs and jib. A smaller 38-foot 
pulling-boat was built as well, but it is un- 
necessary to give details of her dimensions. 

In the following year the Institution pro- 
moted another competition for the best type 
of life-boat. There was only one outside com- 
petitor, but the trials proved of the utmost 
value. The sailing-boats were tested in 1892 
at Lowestoft, and the pulling-boats at Montrose 
in the succeeding year. The following types 
took part : Watson, self-righter, Liverpool, 
Cromer, Norfolk and Suffolk, and tubular. 
We shall deal with the four latter types in a 
future chapter. 

The present day Watson boat is built in 
several sizes. The space is restricted by side 
air-cases as well as those at stem and stern. 
Water ballast is employed only where necessary, 
the weight as a rule being confined to the lead or 
iron keel. The cork wale is intended solely as a 
fender, and not as a means to increase the buoy- 
ancy. There are two drop keels and ten reliev- 
ing tubes. The most striking features, however, 


of the Watson boat are the graceful sheer and 
the beauty of her lines. No yachting man, 
however critical, could fail to approve the 
admirable form of the underwater body. In 
every way she is more " yachty " in appearance 
than any other type. There is more rise in the 
floor ; and, take her altogether, she is the ideal, 
not only of an able and seaworthy, but of a 
fast and handy vessel. She sails equally well in 
light airs or a heavy gale, and it must be borne 
in mind in this connection that a life-boat is 
not invariably launched in a hurricane. There 
are times when she must make the best speed 
she can with but little wind, and it is always 
better in so heavy a boat to sail than to pull. 

A fine example of the power and seaworthi- 
ness of these Watson boats was shown in the 
launch of the William and Mary Devey of 
Tenby to the assistance of the Helwick Light- 
ship on 1st September 1908. This life-boat is 
a 38-foot Watson, 9 ft. 4 in. in beam, and pulling 
twelve oars. She was launched at eleven o'clock 
in the morning during a tremendous gale from 
the west-north-west. The lightship is moored 
many miles to the south-east, and for two hours 
the life-boat ran before the heavy seas. On 
reaching their destination the crew had the 
utmost difficulty in getting alongside, owing to 
the mass of floating wreckage. The lightship 

[Photo, Bert Hole, Watchet. 

[Photo, Gibson <5r Sons, Penzance. 

The Penzance Life-Boat, a 38-foot "Watson " of 1899. 


is swept by the seas, and not only were bul- 
warks and stanchions gone, but the mizzenmast 
and all its gear was towing alongside and threat- 
ening destruction to any vessel that approached. 
However, the life-boat behaved splendidly, and 
the seven men were saved from their perilous 
position. Even then the utmost difficulty was 
experienced in getting clear, and the life-boat 
suffered considerable damage. Instead of re- 
turning to her station, she was run before the 
wind to Swansea, where the rescued men were 
landed. This performance bears witness not 
only to the ability of the Watson boat, but 
to her handiness. In fact, it would be difficult 
to imagine a vessel better suited to the work in 
every way. 

In 1895 the self-righter versus non-self- 
righter controversy was revived in a particularly 
acrimonious form. Correspondents in The Times 
and other papers talked of " roley-poley " boats, 
and, as is so usual in discussions of this kind, 
advocated impossibilities. The strictures were 
possibly due to the fact that narrow-beamed 
vessels had been supplied to some stations for 
seven or eight years, which were gradually 
superseded as they did not find favour with the 
men. However, it requires a very wide know- 
ledge, not only of the boats themselves, but also 
of the topographical conditions and of the 


idiosyncrasies of fishermen, to enable an out- 
sider to argue successfully on life-boat matters. 
There were remarkably few indications of such 
knowledge in those who had most to say at the 
time in question. The 34-foot self-righters of 
1887 and the years following had only 7 ft. 6 in. 
beam. Previously a boat of this type had 8 ft. 
3 in., and now they are of 8 ft. beam at least. 

The following story of a service of the Runs- 
wick life-boat, a 34 ft. by 7 ft. 6 in. self-righter, 
placed on the station in 1892, hardly shows 
evidence of any unseaworthiness in these vessels ; 
after all, an ounce of practical illustration is 
worth a ton of surmise. On the 8th March 
1904, news was brought to Runswick that the 
steamship Ayuihia had stranded on the North 
Steel Rocks and was in grave danger. There 
was a thick fog at the time and a very heavy sea. 
The life-boat was launched with extreme diffi- 
culty, for tremendous breakers were rolling up on 
to the beach. However, she got off at last and 
made her way to the wreck. She succeeded 
in getting twenty of the steamer's crew aboard, 
but it was after a hard struggle, for the nearness 
of the rocks made it a work of the utmost 
danger. Thus deeply loaded, she started on 
her return to Runswick. The sea was tremend- 
ous, and before she had gone very far, she 
actually broached to and was buried com- 


pletely. In spite of this, in spite of her heavy 
load, and in spite of the fact that many of the 
oars were broken, she was put before the sea 
again, and reached the shore without capsizing. 
So much for the " roley-poley " boats, the boats 
that were criticised as " make-believes." The 
story is worth finishing. In spite of their 
terrible experiences, the men replaced the boat 
on her carriage and succeeded in launching her 
again. They made a second journey to the 
wreck, and at last returned with the remaining 
sixteen of those aboard. 

In 1897 a Select Committee was appointed 
by the House of Commons to inquire into 
various charges that had been made against 
the Institution. The Committee was appointed 
on 17th March ; it sat twenty-five times, and 
submitted its final report to the House of 
Commons on the 15th July of the same year. 
It examined in all fifty witnesses. As a result, 
many of the charges were shown to be personal 
and unfounded, and were completely withdrawn. 
However, we cannot do better than quote the 
Committee's report. Unfortunately, very many 
people are apt to note the fact that charges are 
made, but, through lack of sustained interest, 
they omit to read the outcome of the resulting 
inquiry. They only remember that some hard 
things were said, and the fact that the hard 


things were absolutely controverted is ignored. 
With regard to financial matters, it is sufficient 
to say that the Institution came out with flying 
colours ; all charges were stated to be unfounded, 
and all expenditures to be fully justified. What 
is of more interest to us here is the Committee's 
finding on the subject of the boats and their 
management. The report speaks for itself ; it 
is as follows : 

" With regard to the boats provided by 
the Institution, it was contended that they 
were unfitted for their work ; and it was even 
alleged that, therefore, the officials of the 
Institution ' ought to be prosecuted for man- 

" This contention your Committee find to be 
wholly unfounded and preposterous. It is true 
the service has not been conducted entirely 
without loss of life by those engaged in it. Your 
Committee would have been greatly surprised 
if it had : seeing that the work must often be 
done in conditions of the greatest danger to all 

" In the opinion of your Committee, the boats 
are generally well adapted for the work they have 
to perform. Your Committee do not feel that 
they can recommend one type of boat for adop- 
tion rather than another. Nor do they hold it 
can be decided as a matter of certainty that, in 


varying circumstances, either a self-righting or 
a non-self-righting boat is absolutely the best. 
Both types are most carefully designed, built, 
and furnished. Persons fully competent to 
judge declare, some for one, some for the other 
pattern. The practice of the Institution is to 
consult the men on the spot who will have to 
man the boat and to allow them in great 
measure to decide for themselves in which kind 
of boat they will do this difficult, and inevitably 
dangerous, work. Confidence of the crew in 
their boat is of itself an element of security, 
and your Committee do not advise any change 
in this system. 

" In regard to steam life-boats of which the 
Institution already has two, and is building 
another it appears to your Committee that 
in certain situations they have undeniable 
advantages. But at many points on our coast 
they could not be stationed ; and at many 
adapted for them there are already steam tugs 
to be obtained for the taking out of life-boats 
to vessels in distress. The facts proved before 
your Committee show that the managers of the 
Institution are fully alive to the value and 
importance of steam life-boats, and to the con- 
ditions of their effective employment ; and that 
they are preparing to place such boats where 
necessary. Your Committee think, therefore, 


that this matter may safely be left to the con- 
sideration and judgment of the Institution. 

"Charges of want of discipline among the 
crews, of delay or failure in launching life-boats, 
and of refusal on the part of crews to go out to the 
assistance of vessels in distress, have been freely 
made. From the answers to their inquiries 
received from all parts of the coast, your Com- 
mittee are satisfied that, so far as the great 
majority of life-boat crews are concerned, these 
charges are entirely groundless, and that the 
life-boat crews are a body of men of whom the 
country may be proud. In the few instances 
of want of discipline among the crews or refusal 
to go out, reported to your Committee, they 
find that the Institution had inquired into the 
matter at the time, and had taken steps to 
correct it ; while the cases of delay or failure 
in launching life-boats were very few, and were 
in every case traced to error in judgment, to 
which any agency is liable. 

" Suggestions have been made that the life- 
boats should no longer be manned, as at present, 
by the fishermen and beachmen of the station, 
but either by a permanent crew, maintained 
expressly for the purpose, or by the coastguard. 
The expense of maintaining a permanent crew, 
as compared with the present system, would be 
so great as to be, in our opinion, prohibitory. 


The objections to employing the coastguard 
are overwhelming. The coastguard is not 
sufficient in numbers. The coastguard stations, 
moreover, being selected with a view to pro- 
hibit smuggling, are often not to be found 
where a life-boat is most needed. The coast- 
guardsmen are not necessarily good boatmen, 
and some of them have had no training as such ; 
and in any case they are likely to be inferior in 
the local knowledge which gives to the beach- 
men and fishermen such skill in overcoming the 
difficulties of local currents, shoals, and rocks. 
Moreover, the coastguard, being men of the first 
Naval Reserve, are withdrawn at least once a year 
for naval service. 

" Your Committee see no ground for recom- 
mending that the life-boat service should be 
taken over by the State, so long as it is main- 
tained as efficiently and successfully as at present 
by public benevolence. There would be no 
saving of expense by the transference of the 
service to Government ; and, so long as the crews 
which man the boats are volunteer crews, your 
Committee believe that they would work more 
successfully under the discreet administration 
of a well-selected local committee than under 
the more rigid discipline of a Government 
Department. Your Committee consider that 
there are many advantages in committing the 


control of this service, as now, to a voluntary 
association of honourable men who have in 
many cases devoted years of their lives, without 
pay or remuneration of any sort, to the cause 
of life-saving relying for funds on the bene- 
ficence of the people of these kingdoms, and for 
crews to man the boats on the unfailing courage 
and devotion of the maritime population." 

This report speaks well for the pains taken 
by the Committee, and for the knowledge 
and grasp of the whole question which they 
acquired through their examination of the 
witnesses. It gives a clear and well-informed 
statement on several points which are not as a 
rule sufficently understood, and its opinions hold 
good to the present day. The remarks on steam 
life-boats apply, to some extent, to the intro- 
duction of the motor. 

The Life-Boat Saturday Fund was founded 
in 1891 for the purpose of more widely directing 
the attention of the public to the claims of the 
Royal National Life-Boat Institution. This it 
did by organising processions, demonstrations, 
etc. ; its efforts towards collecting money being 
essentially of a popular nature. Our illustration 
(Fig. 22) shows a typical demonstration, the 
spectacular launch of the life-boat being followed 
by an exhibition of the methods of handling her 
and of saving life at sea. During the twenty 

g ' 

'**'.*, v 


years of its existence the Life-Boat Saturday Fund 
collected and handed over to the Institution no 
less a sum than 301,989, 17s. Id. The whole 
of this amount was devoted to the following 
particular objects : 

(a) Grants to widows and children of life- 
boat men who had lost their lives in the service, 
not less than 100 being allowed for each widow 
and 25 for each dependent child. 

(b) Grants to men injured in the service. 

(c) Pensions and retiring allowances to cox- 
swains, bowmen, and signalmen of long and 
meritorious service, who had retired on account 
of old age, ill-health, accident, or abolition of 

(d) Payments to coxswains and crews for 
services rendered, special rewards, and recogni- 
tions, etc. 

The Committees of this fund made collections 
principally in the inland towns, where hitherto 
the life-boat had been little known or talked 
about. At the end of 1910 the Life-Boat Saturday 
Fund ceased to exist as a separate organisation, 
and it was merged in the Royal National Life- 
Boat Institution. This was done with a view 
to economy and to unity of effort and control. 

In 1897 there were only thirty-six non-self- 
righters in the Institution's fleet. Since then 
they have gradually increased in favour, and 


now there are no less than ninety. The narrow- 
beamed self-righters have almost entirely dis- 
appeared, and are replaced by fine weatherly 
boats as to whose power and stability there can 
be no question. The present sailing or pulling 
fleet of the Institution is composed as follows : 
174 self-righting boats, 39 Watson, 33 Liver- 
pool, 17 Norfolk and Suffolk, 1 Cromer, 1 tubular, 
and 3 whale-boats. The steam and power 
boats are : 4 steam life-boats, 1 steam tug, 
7 self-righting boats with motor power, 5 
Watson boats with motor power, and 1 Suffolk 
and Norfolk boat with motor power. Since 
its foundation in 1824 the Royal National 
Life-Boat Institution has a record to 31st 
December 1911 of 50,081 lives saved. 



So long ago as 1850 the adoption of steam power 
for the purposes of the life-boat was looked upon 
as a practical proposition. A model of a steam 
life-boat competed for the Duke of Northumber- 
land's prize, and was exhibited in the Great 
Exhibition of 1851. She was designed by Mr. 
G. Remington, C.E., of Warkworth, and was to 
be propelled by a screw with an engine of 10 H.P. 
Her dimensions when built were placed at 40 ft. 
long by 8 ft. beam, and she was estimated to 
cost 500. Another mechanically propelled life- 
boat was exhibited by a Mr. Erskine, but as her 
means of propulsion were described as " new 
pinion wheels and self-acting syphon pump " 
one does not feel quite competent to express an 
opinion upon so mysterious a vessel. 

During the following thirty-six years the 
Institution did not lose sight of the possibilities 
of steam, but no definite move was made towards 
its adoption until 1886. Writing in 1874, Mr. 
Lewis, the then Secretary of the Royal National 




Life-Boat Institution, described three " insur- 
mountable" difficulties to the use of steam. 
The first lay in the fact that nine times out of 
ten a life-boat must be launched from an open 
beach, and on that account the violence of the 
motion would not only extinguish the fires, but 
prevent the proper preservation of the necessary 
draught of air for the engines. This objection 
is sound enough, and at the present day the 
Institution, having provided four boats at care- 
fully selected stations, is unlikely to find it 
expedient to build a fifth. The fact is that 
there are very few places where a steam life-boat 
can be placed with convenience and safety. 
They must of necessity lie at moorings, and the 
ports that can provide the required sheltered 
accommodation are generally those where the 
services of a life-boat are least needed. 

The second objection, that they would upset 
and disable themselves and their engines, has 
been proved to be surmountable. Certainly the 
Padstow boat did capsize, but the disaster 
was due to adverse circumstances rather than 
to any unsuitability of the boat itself to the 
work that was expected of her. She gave 
ample proof of her power and capability on 
other occasions. 

The third difficulty is worth quoting as set 
out by Mr. Lewis. Although to a lesser degree, 


his statement is still an answer to those who 
contend that every life-boat ought at once to 
be fitted with motor power. " The fact is," 
he says, " that the only class of men that are 
available to work the life-boats on the coast, 
namely the fishermen and other boatmen, 
would be incompetent to manage a steam-engine, 
and to keep it in proper order. They are skilful 
in the use of the sail and the oar, through hav- 
ing them in everyday use in following their 
avocations ; but they know nothing of steam 
or steam-engines, and, as at the majority of 
stations the life-boats would not be sufficiently 
often in use for them to acquire the necessary 
knowledge by experience, the National Life- 
Boat Institution would have to seek competent 
trained men elsewhere. This might appear to 
persons unacquainted with the system of the 
Institution a difficulty easy to be overcome ; 
but it is not so, since, apart from the probability 
that the local boatmen would not, at many 
places, volunteer to work such boats, it would 
be necessary to maintain at each place an 
experienced engineer, and to pay him a sufficient 
salary for his maintenance ; for, unless he were 
to take the place of the village blacksmith, he 
would find no other employment in his own 
line of business." 

In spite, however, of these difficulties, the 


Institution in 1886 appointed a sub-committee 
to inquire into the practicability of applying 
steam to life-boats. This committee went the 
right way to work. It not only offered in 1887 
the usual prizes for models and drawings of 
suitable vessels, but it examined the various 
designs exhibited at the Liverpool Exhibition. 
Also, and what was far more to the point, it 
consulted the coxswains of those stations where 
a steam tug was in use to tow the life-boat out 
to a wreck. These men were quite decided 
that they preferred the towing system, and in 
view of the success of the Institution's tug, the 
Helen Peele, that is now stationed at Padstow, 
it is quite likely that they were right. 

The medals were not awarded, for no design 
submitted seemed to satisfy the committee's 
requirements. However, in the following year, 
Messrs. R. & H. Green of Blackwall submitted 
a model, which, after considerable modifications, 
was pronounced suitable. In June the order 
was placed, and the first steam life-boat came 
into existence. Two years previously a system 
had been described at a meeting of the Institu- 
tion of Naval Architects, intended to be applic- 
able to life-boats, by which four screws were 
mounted on two parallel shafts, the screws being 
located at about a fourth the vessel's length 
from each end in grooves under the bottom. 


Messrs. R. & H. Green, however, adopted a 
different method to obviate the difficulties of 
fouling and racing. The feature of their system 
was the use of hydraulic jets. A little before 
amidships on each side of the boat was a " scoop " 
in the side leading to an inlet pipe, the mouth of 
which was covered with a grating. The water 
was drawn in by a turbine, and then ejected 
through an outlet pipe amidships. It could 
be projected in either direction, and the advan- 
tages were obvious ; there was nothing to foul 
and nothing to race. 

For the rest, the boat was 50 ft. in length 

>y 14 ft. 4 in. beam, and 3 ft. 3 in. draught. 
She could carry thirty passengers in an open 
well abaft the engine-room, and here she had 
valves to discharge the water she might ship. 
Her horizontal compound engines developed 
170 h.p. The strength of the vessel was remark- 
able, for she was built of mild steel, which was 
treble riveted. Her stability did not vanish 
until she was inclined at an angle of 110 degrees, 
so she might almost be called uncapsizable. 
This boat, the Duke of Northumberland, was, 
after exhaustive trials, placed on her station 
at Harwich in 1890. In 1892 she was trans- 
ferred to Holyhead, then to New Brighton, 
and finally back to Holyhead, where she does 

fine work to the present day. 


One of her most arduous services was rendered 
on 20th December 1900, in fact it was a double 
service, for she rescued the crews of two vessels. 
At 5.30 p.m., with a tremendous sea running 
and a heavy gale from the south-west, she was 
summoned to the assistance of the White Star 
liner Cufic, which was in distress off the Skerries 
Rocks. She did her work magnificently, and 
succeeded in taking aboard forty- one persons, 
and bringing them safely ashore. Having 
returned to her moorings, she learned that the 
other life-boat, a self-righter, had put out to 
a vessel in distress, and, having lost her anchor, 
had been obliged to return for another. At 
past midnight the Duke of Northumberland put 
out again, and rescued the crew of the schooner 
Julia of Gloucester, regaining her station at 
three o'clock in the morning after nearly ten 
hours' service. In his report, the Hon. Secretary 
of the branch remarked that, since the steam 
life-boat had been there, she had never been out 
in such a sea, but in spite of it she behaved 

In 1893 a second boat was ordered, the City 
of Glasgow. She was slightly altered both in 
design and in engine and boiler. Her length 
was 52 ft., with 15-foot beam, and instead of 
one horizontal turbine she had two vertical 
ones. She was placed at Harwich in 1894 and 

/>> permission 01 the Royal National Life- Boat Institution. 

Stationed at Harwich. 

' ' 


served there for seven years, being sold out of 
the service in 1901. The vertical turbines did 
not come up to expectations, and in the third 
steam life-boat, the Queen, the old method was 
readopted. She was tried with furnaces designed 
to use liquid fuel, but now, after long experi- 
ment, she burns coal only. She was placed on 
her station, New Brighton, in 1897, and she is 
there now. 

In 1898 the first screw steam life-boats were 
built. The order was given to Messrs. J. S. White 
& Co. of Cowes, and they were placed on their 
stations, Grimsby and Padstow, before the end 
of the year. A third was afterwards built 
to the same designs and placed at Harwich 
(see Fig. 24). They were 56-foot boats by 
14-foot 8-inch beam, and were provided with a 
well aft for passengers, with the relieving valves 
therein for the freeing of shipped water. The 
screw was placed in a kind of recess aft under 
the cockpit. 

Of these three boats, the City of Glasgow 
is still at Harwich, the James Stevens, No. 3, 
has been removed from Grimsby to Angle in 
Milford Haven, and the third, the James Stevens, 
No. 4, was unfortunately lost at Padstow on 
llth April 1900. This same boat just a year 
previously, on 7th April 1899, performed a 
very fine service, and amply justified the con- 


fidence of the crew in her seaworthy qualities. 
With a strong gale from the north-west she 
was called away to a vessel in distress off Tin- 
tagel Head. She was in sight of watchers on 
the cliff as she proceeded down the coast, and 
they bore witness to her wonderful behaviour. 
One sea broke over her and completely buried 
her, but she emerged from it with little damage. 

The City of Glasgow on one occasion was 
instrumental in saving nine men after ten 
attempts to reach them. The schooner Notre 
Dame de Toutes Aides was ashore on the Kentish 
Knock, and, as her captain afterwards expressed 
it, the seas that repeatedly drove the life-boat 
back were " really waves of sand saturated with 
water." It was to this wreck that a cutter 
was lowered from H.M.S. Dreadnought, which 
made dSgpllant attempt at rescue. Eventually 
the life-boat had to steam in to the vessel re- 
peatedly head-on, and to allow the crew to 
jump aboard one by one. 

A year after they had completed their 
second boat for the Institution, Messrs. R. & H. 
Green built a third on the same pattern for the 
Dutch Life-Boat Service. She was greatly ad- 
mired and was made the text of an agitation 
in favour of the Institution supplying similar 
vessels broadcast. It is really remarkable how 
well-informed people will sometimes imagine 


tliat because a thing is good it is good anywhere. 
The wisdom of the authorities is proved now 
after sixteen years' experience. Only four 
stations have been found up till now to comply 
with the necessary requirements which make 
the provision of a steam life-boat both possible 
and expedient. Now, with the advent of the in- 
ternal combustion engine, it seems quite likely 
that four stations will continue to be the 

The Padstow steam tug Helen Peele was 
built in 1901 to replace the ill-fated James 
Stevens. She is a fine able vessel, 95 ft. in 
length by 19i-foot beam, and with a displace- 
ment of 231 tons. Her duties are to tow out 
the sailing life-boat and to render assistance to 
vessels which, from one reason or another, are 
in danger or out of control. She can be seen, 
lying bows-on, in Fig. 38. Stationed as she is 
at the entrance to the Bristol Channel, and 
within hail, as it were, of its most frequented 
fairway, she has plenty of opportunities of 
making herself useful, not to say essential. 

As an outcome of the interest aroused in 
life-boat work by the disasters in 1886, Sir 
Edward Watkin, M.P., conceived the idea of 
placing steam " lifc-ships,' ; as he called them, 
at different stations along the coast. They 
were to be capable of high speed so that they 


might reach the scene of any disaster in good 
time, even although it might be at a consider- 
able distance away. Acting on this idea, the 
South-Eastern Railway placed an order with 
Messrs. Samuda Bros. Ltd. for a steam life-ship. 
She was designed by Mr. G. Kelson of that 
firm. Her dimensions were as follows : 120 ft. 
long by 20-foot beam, and 10i ft. deep. She 
was built of Siemens steel and constructed 
with watertight compartments, a great feature 
being that she had good cargo accommodation 
and could earn her living at ordinary times 
as a cargo boat. Her engines were by Messrs. 
T. A. Young & Son ; they were compound, with 
single screw, and with 320 h.p. they could 
drive the life-ship at 12 knots. She was fitted 
for towing, and carried two life-boats and mortar 
apparatus. Moreover, she was provided with 
a hot bath for assisting to restore the apparently 
drowned a feature which bore witness to the 
forethought of her designer. 

In other countries steam has not been much 
in favour. Most of them wait for England's 
lead in anything that appertains to life-boats, 
and, in this instance, the motor has followed 
so close on the heels of steam that in waiting 
for the one they were almost in sight of the 
other. As will be seen later, the motor, both 
abroad and in the colonies, is fast coming into 


favour, and in America it is already in a high 
state of development. France has a fine steam 
life-boat, the Amiral Lafont, a vessel of 374 tons. 
She is stationed at Royan, and holds herself in 
readiness to assist all distressed vessels in the 
wide area of the mouth of the Gironde. 

There can be no two opinions as to the 
advantages offered by the adoption of motor 
power in coastwise life-boats, but unfortunately 
the obstacles in the way of its becoming uni- 
versal are equally obvious. The difficulties are 
rincipally due to the conditions under which 

vessel must work, which is launched in a 
heavy surf, and which is used most frequently 
in the roughest of seas. 

To some extent, too, there is the personal 
element to contend with, owing to the system 
under which the boats must necessarily be 
manned ; that personal element which, forty 
years ago, was considered fatal to the prospects 
of steam. The introduction of motor power 
has to be proceeded with both cautiously and 
slowly, for the men have not only to be trained 
mechanically in the management of the engines, 
but they have also to be educated up to a 
belief in their efficiency. 

The crew of a motor life-boat consists of a 
coxswain, assistant coxswain, bowman, motor- 
man, and ten or twelve oarsmen. The motor- 


man has to visit the boat at least twice weekly, 
and to run the engine on each occasion for a 
few minutes at its lowest possible speed. He 
is also expected to make a selection from the 
crew of those who show the greatest aptitude 
for learning. These men he especially instructs 
periodically in the management of the motor, 
upon which occasions he receives a small fee. 
The coxswains, too, are instructed to endeavour 
to master the mechanism. 

One's own experience of the British longshore 
population inclines one to think that these 
motor-men will, as a rule, be difficult to obtain, 
except in those places, such as Tynemouth, 
which offer unusual advantages in this respect. 
In fact the Institution is appointing permanent 
motor-men at its out-of-the-way stations, where 
there is no choice of skilled mechanics. Still, 
it is highly probable that any difficulty as 
regards men to run the engines will gradually 
right itself. The fishermen will be bound to 
adopt power for their own or their employers' 
purposes, and so the necessary skilled assistance 
may be forthcoming in due course among the 
longshoremen themselves. 

We will turn now to structural and mechan- 
ical difficulties. 

The English life-boats are of certain fixed 
types, and it is to these types, with modifica- 


tions, that the Institution adheres, as the ex- 
perience of nearly one hundred years has proved 
them to be best suited to the exigencies of 
different parts of the coast. Of the motor- 
driven vessels, half of the fleet as at present 
scheduled are Watson boats and the rest self- 
righters. Of the other subsidiary types on 
the coast, one only, a Norfolk and Suffolk, has 
as yet been fitted with auxiliary power. 

When installing a motor in an ordinary 
coastal life-boat there are three essential points 
which have to be considered. In the first place 
the boat must necessarily be of peculiar buoy- 
ancy, in order that she may be able to cope 
with breaking water and with heavy seas in 
shallow soundings. On this account she is apt 
to throw clear her bow and stern with unusual 
frequency, and the danger of racing is an ever- 
present one. Secondly, she must be launched 
from a beach, or at best from a slip-way, under 
the most strenuous conditions. Those hand- 
ling her are quite unable to keep a careful eye 
on the blades of a propeller with' which the 
slightest touch may play havoc. Finally, the 
chances of a foul screw are multiplied indefinitely, 
for a life-boat's best work is done among floating 
\\reckage. To back and fill in a veritable 
hurrah's nest of loose rope and shredded canvas 
is her commonest task. 


The Life-Boat Institution has adopted the 
following method to minimise these dangers. 
The propeller is placed as far forward as possible, 
and revolves in a turtle-backed tunnel of about 
one-third the length of the boat. This tunnel 
is lined with mahogany, and rises from the top 
of the iron keel. The position of the screw is 
just forward of the after end -box, and just 
over it is a hatch, by means of which it is easily 
accessible even when the vessel is afloat. This 
method guards, to a great extent, against injury 
to the blades by fouling or rough handling. The 
racing difficulty, too, is obviated to some extent 
by thus placing the propeller where it is not so 
liable to be thrown clear of the water. This 
emergency is dealt with further by the provision 
of a governor which has proved its efficiency. 

When one of the motor-boats was making 
a passage recently, this device reduced the 
speed of the engine from 600 to 250 revolutions 
when the screw was half out of the water. As 
the load came on again the governor gently 
opened the throttle and allowed the engine to 
run at its proper speed. 

The difficulty of admitting air to the engine 
when closely battened down in a sea-way is 
met by the following contrivance. It is sucked 
into the casing by a pipe leading to the after 
end-box, which is itself always provided with an 


automatic ball valve for ventilating purposes. 
This closes if the boat is capsized. 

Of course the tunnel device must necessarily 
lessen the speed of the boat and the effective 
power of the engines, as the screw revolves in 
so small a body of water. However, as things 
are at present, the Institution prefers to sacrifice 
something of the efficiency of the motor rather 
than impair the utility of the boat. Motor 
power is looked upon purely as an auxiliary, 
and oars and sails are always provided to the 
same extent as formerly. In the instructions 
for the upkeep and management of motor life- 
boats, the following passage occurs : 

" In launching, the life-boat is to be eased 
down to a position outside the boathouse, 
where the masts will be got up and everything 
got ready for making sail, the coxswain bearing 
in mind that the motor is an auxiliary to the 
sails, which latter are the principal motive 

Reports of the United States Life -Saving 
Service show clearly that the authorities are fully 
alive to the importance of power installation, 
in that it permits the crew of a boat to arrive at 
a wreck without fatigue and thoroughly fit for the 
most exacting part of their work the approach- 
ing and communicating with a wrecked vessel. 

In England one may doubt whether quite the 


same weight is attached to this consideration, 
for it is noticeable that up till now the boats 
provided with auxiliary power are nearly all 
large ones. They would in the ordinary course 
rely upon canvas almost entirely. It is in the 
smaller boats that the crews are more likely to 
exhaust themselves with rowing. 

The whole matter is still in the experimental 
stages, and it will only be after a long period of 
trial and elimination that power will be adopted 
generally as a thoroughly practical and depend- 
able proposition. Even when the authorities 
know that they can rely upon their engines as a 
solid fact, the men will have to be persuaded 
that their views are sound. At the present 
time the engine most in favour in England is the 
Tylor four cylinder, developing from 40 to 
55 h.p. It is comparatively light, weighing only 
11 cwt., and shows 600 to 700 revolutions per 
minute. Other engines which have been in- 
stalled in some of the boats are the Blake four 
cylinder (40 h.p.) and the Wolseley four cylinder 
(34 h.p.). One or two others have been tried as 
well, but have only been used in each case in a 
single boat. No less than nine different revers- 
ing propellers or reverse gears have been or are 
being fitted in different vessels, and, as no one 
of them seems more popular than another, it is 
needless to enumerate them. 

{Photo, C. Edwards, Fishguard. 


FIG. 26. THE MOTOR " \VATx >N " I.I I K-i;O.\T STATION Ml > AT 

By permission ff the Royal National Life-Boat Institution. 

- : - * ' "... 


With regard to speed, 6 to 7 knots is 
about the average. The highest is 7.12 knots 
developed in the Wicklow boat, a 40-foot 
self-righter with a Tylor 40 h.p. engine. A 
Watson boat of the same size has done very 
nearly as well with a similar motor. 

The following performances on long passages 
are worthy of note. The vessel destined for the 
Donaghadee station, a Watson boat of the 
largest type built, 43 ft. by 12 ft. 6 in., left 
Harwich on the 1st of July 1910. She was 
fitted with a Blake engine developing 40 h.p. 
She travelled via the east coast and the Forth 
and Clyde Canal, and arrived at her destination 
on llth July. The distance covered was 558 
miles, and the engine ran well throughout. The 
voyage was broken each day to allow the men 
to rest. 

The Broughty Ferry boat left Harwich on 
7th October 1910, and took four days only to do 
the 425 miles between ports. She was another 
Watson boat, three feet less over all, and her 
engine was a Tylor four cylinder (40 h.p.). 

The adoption of motor power in English life- 
boats has made rapid progress during the past two 
or three years. Only four boats were fitted with 
motors a few winters ago, and now thirteen are so 
equipped and five more are in hand. But this 
is a small proportion in a fleet of 283 vessels, only 


indeed, one-sixteenth. Curiously enough, the 
United States has exactly the same number of 
stations, but the proportion of boats fitted 
with auxiliary power is nearly one-half. How- 
ever, comparison is difficult as the conditions 
differ so entirely. 

The Stromness (Orkney) motor life-boat has 
done good service since she was placed on her 
station. To give one instance : on 5th October 
1909 she was summoned by flares to the assist- 
ance of the steam trawler Ocean Prince, ashore 
on the Point of Ness. She reached the wreck, 
and had the utmost difficulty in rescuing the 
crew of nine men, for the seas were breaking 
over her all the time. After she returned the 
weather moderated, and she was required to go 
back and replace the crew aboard the trawler. 
This she did at midnight ; but the life -boat was 
obliged to stand by for over three hours, for fear 
the vessel should become a total wreck when she 
again floated. Finally, she had to bring the 
men back to Stromness. The motor did its work 
well, and was of the utmost service. One can 
imagine the amount of toil that the life-boat's 
crew was spared in this long and arduous service. 

The boat earned great praise, too, on 26th 
May of the same year, behaving splendidly in a 
strong gale and heavy sea. 

The principal stated requirements of the 


English Life-Boat Service with respect to the 
motor are simplicity, accessibility to all parts, 
an engine capable of running for twelve hours 
without attention, and of being listed to 45 
on occasion, or 25 permanently. 

An automatic cut-out switch is required if 
she heels to excess (60 and upwards), and a 
governor to prevent racing. 



IN England, as in other countries, philanthropy 
has always been attracted by the life-boat. As 
a result, numerous small societies have sprung 
up, having for their purpose the rescue of life 
from shipwreck. Single boats, too, have been 
founded and maintained, of which the control 
is vested either in trustees or corporations. 
Nowadays, the powerful central associations 
have absorbed the greater number of these 
stations, but many still exist, and others which 
have wisely merged their interests have left 
traces of their influence in the policies and 
fleets of the societies which have taken them 

In this country the most important of these 
subsidiary bodies were those of Norfolk and 
Suffolk and Liverpool. Each of these societies 
had adopted a form of life-boat suited to its 
particular needs, and, % in each instance, the 
Institution on taking them over has perpetuated 
the type. Having described the Norfolk and 


Suffolk and Liverpool life-boats under the head- 
ings of the societies which brought them into 
being, we shall have practically completed the 
inventory of the Institution's fleet. There are but 
three types remaining, and of each of them but 
very few exist. We shall, therefore, for the sake 
of continuity, describe the Cromer, tubular, and 
White boats after the two more important 
varieties. We will then take up again our tale 
of the subsidiary societies, and of the other 
privately and publicly owned life-boats which 
still exist. 

The longshoremen of Norfolk and Suffolk 
have always been accustomed to range the 
coast in any weather in their great, powerful 
yawls. Small wonder, then, that they were 
among the first to recognise the necessity for 
an organised life-boat service. We have already 
had occasion to mention these splended yawls. 
They are long, narrow boats with fine lines and 
stem and stern alike. Even now they run 
to 50 ft. in length with 10 to 11-foot beam. 
In the old clays they are said to have reached 
to C9 feet. Probably they are the largest open 
boats in the world, with the exception of 
certain native canoe 

In the year 1807 our old friend Lukin was 
commissioned by the Suffolk Humane Society 

to superintend the construction of a life-boat, 



It was built by Bareham of Lowestoft on the 
accustomed lines of a 40-foot yawl. This first 
vessel of the type had an over-all length of 
40 ft., with 37 ft. on the keel. Her beam was 
10 ft., and depth 3 ft. 6 in. (This did not include 
the depth of an 8-inch movable wash-strake.) 
Her 3-inch false keel was bolted on, and she was 
rigged like the yawls with three masts and lug- 
sails. She pulled twelve oars. Her buoyancy 
arrangements were a number of small empty 
casks ranged along both sides within the gun- 
wale. Two more were fastened in the bow 
and two astern, and others under the thwarts. 
In addition she had a huge external wale, 
9 in. by 15 in. The water found entrance 
and exit through plug-holes in the bottom, and 
on her first trials these plugs were withdrawn 
and the boat allowed to fill above the thwarts. 
She had twenty men in her at the time, and 
they averred that she sailed even better than 

This boat existed and worked up till 1850, 
and saved no fewer than three hundred lives. 

At the Great Exhibition in 1851 the Lowe- 
stoft and Yarmouth life-boats shown had their 
buoyancy apparatus in the sides beneath the 
thwarts ; the oars were double-banked, and 
beside every man was a pump for getting rid 
of a sea when it filled the boat. A label at- 


inched to these boats stated that they were 
in use over a range of coast of about twenty 
miles, that not one of them had ever been 
upset, and that they had saved from 500 to 
600 lives. 

This description is in accordance with the 
official publications of the Exhibition author- 
ities, but what the pumps were for is far from 
clear. It was always the custom in these 
Norfolk and Suffolk boats to allow the water 
free ingress and egress through the plug-holes 
in the bottom. It was not, in fact, until 1893 
that the men first adopted relieving tubes and 
ballast tanks at all. Their conversion was 
partially brought about by an accident that 
happened in the trials of 1892 at Lowestoft. 
One of their boats was caught by a sea and 
filled before the crew had time to withdraw 
the plugs. She could not clear herself, therefore, 
and some of the men were badly injured. Even 
after this experience their conversion to the more 
modern and approved methods was only gradual, 
and it was a long time before the open plug 
holes were entirely abandoned. They still 
stick to the enormous wale outside the gun- 
wale ; its dimensions now are 14 in. by 18 in. 

A modern Norfolk and Suffolk boat scarcely 
differsjTfrom the original type of 1807. The 
first alteration was to substitute air-cases for 


empty casks. These filled the bottom of the 
boat except for a well amidships. Now they are 
fitted with sliding keels, with no fewer than 
twenty-four relieving tubes, and with four water- 
ballast tanks. They vary greatly in dimensions, 
but proportionately their beam is considerably 
more for their length than in the original boat 
of Lukin. 

The Norfolk and Suffolk Association, like 
those of Anglesey, North Devon, and Lincoln- 
shire, was absorbed by the Royal National 
Life-Boat Institution during the fourteen years 
following its reorganisation in 1850. It voted 
itself into a branch of the Institution in 1858. 

The Liverpool type of life-boat had its origin 
in 1840, when a Mr. Costain was instructed to 
build nine boats for the Liverpool Dock Trust. 
The original vessels were described as approxi- 
mating to a ship's pinnace in shape. The 
length was 30 ft., keel 27 ft., beam 9 ft. 3 in., 
depth 4 ft. Twelve airtight casks were fitted 
along the sides, and these were enclosed in wooden 
cases. There were no self-righting devices, no 
ballast, and no contrivances for freeing the boat 
of water. They were rigged with two spritsails 
and a jih, and were light and easy of transport. 
Outside was a cork fender or belt covered with 

These nine boats were stationed at Liverpool, 


Magazines, Hoylake, Point of Ayr, and Formby, 
two going to each of the four first-named places 
and one to the last. The Liverpool Dock Trust 
became the Mersey Dock and Harbour Board, and, 
when the Royal National Life-Boat Institution 
took it over in 1894, it owned but five vessels. 

The type is now no longer confined to the 
district, but finds favour all over the coast. 
Liverpool boats are to be found in places so far 
apart as Grimsby, Coverack, Minehead, Grooms- 
port, and Dunbar. They now number thirty- 
two. Before the Institution took these boats 
over they had been considerably improved, 
being fitted with relieving tubes and proper 
air-cases instead of empty casks. Now the type 
resembles closely the Watson that we have 
already described. There are end and side 
air-cases of small dimensions, ten relieving 
tubes, and four tanks for water ballast. They 
are light boats, however, running from 3 to 
5 1 tons with their gear, whereas the larger 
Watsons weigh in some cases over 14 tons. 

The Cromer type of life-boat is now almost 
extinct, one only existing at Wells in Norfolk. 
It was evolved because the Cromer men in 1884 
refused to have another self-righter, and asked 
to be supplied wth a boat similar to the one that 
they had used previous to 1858. A vessel was, 
therefore, built closely approximating to the 


Liverpool type. She was 35 feet in length by 10 
in beam, and pulled fourteen oars. Two others 
were built later. They are non- self -righting, 
have ten relieving tubes and three water-ballast 
tanks, and side air-cases above the deck. 

The tubular life-boat was invented by two 
officers in the army, father arid son, the Messrs. 
Richardson ; their model was exhibited at 
the Great Exhibition in 1851, and competed 
for the Northumberland prize. Thinking that 
the award was unsatisfactory, these gentlemen 
set about building a life-boat to their model, 
which they afterwards sold to the Portuguese 
Government. In 1852, after the accidents at 
Rhyl and Lytham, the Richardsons challenged 
all other life-boats to compete with their own ; 
and subsequently, so firmly did they believe 
in their invention, they built another tubular 
boat in Manchester, and navigated her them- 
selves to London. 

She consisted of two 40-foot iron tubes 
of 2 ft. 1 in. diameter, braced together at a 
distance of 3 feet apart. They were divided 
into compartments, and tapered and turned 
inwards at the ends. On top was built a raft 
30 ft. in length and 6 ft. 8 in. in width, with 
sides 8 in. high. 

In 1856 a tubular boat was stationed 
at Rhyl by the Institution. She turned out 


satisfactorily, and the New Brighton men in 
1863 asked to have one like her. It was built 
and supplied to them. She took part in the 
sailing tests at Lowestoft in 1892, but was too 
heavy for beach work, and could not get to 
windward. A smaller and lighter one did well 
at Montrose in the pulling trials in the following 
year, and was placed third in the competition. 
The present Rhyl boat was built in 1896, and 
is now the only tubular boat on the coasts. She 
is built entirely of wood, and is 34 ft. in length 
by 8 ft. 10 in. beam, weighing less than 2 tons. 
The advantage of a boat of this type is its great 
lateral stability, but it exposes its crew to too 
great an extent, and it cannot sail to windward. 
It was to the crews of two tubular life-boats 
that the United States awarded the first of the 
medals for life-boat men that had ever been 
given outside the country. The Liverpool 
Harbour Board's tubular boat in September 
1875 put out to the rescue of the crew of the 
Ellen Southard, an American vessel that was 
wrecked on Jordan Flats. Several other life- 
boats started as well, but this one was the first 
to reach the wreck, and she succeeded in taking 
off the crew. No sooner, however, was she clear 
ihiiii she was capsized by a heavy sea. Another, 
the New Brighton tubular boat, was quickly 
on the spot, but thirteen poor fellows lost their 


lives, including three of the life-boat men. The 
medal was subsequently presented to twenty- 
seven men, and to the widows and nearest 
relatives of those who were drowned. 

In 1848, Messrs. Lamb and White (now Messrs. 
White) of Medina Docks, Cowes, Isle of Wight, 
built a shore life-boat which was stationed at 
Cardigan. (Up till that time this firm had 
confined its attentions to ship's life-boats.) She 
was 27 ft. long by 8 ft. beam, and 3 ft. in depth. 
Two years later she was found to be too small 
for the work, and was replaced by a more power- 
ful vessel of the same type. 

At the same time a 30-foot Lamb and White 
boat was placed at Broadstairs and another 
somewhat larger at Ilfracombe. In consequence 
of splendid service done by the Broadstairs 
boat, the Margate men asked for one and it 
was supplied to them. Now the Institution 
has three boats built to this pattern, one being 
stationed at Ryde, one at Poolbeg in Ireland, 
and the third at Campbeltown. 

They are whale-boats pulling only six oars, 
and are provided with side air-cases. The 
largest of the three, that at Ryde, is 30 ft. by 
7 ft. 3 in., and weighs less than Ij tons. One 
of White's whale-boats competed for the 
Northumberland prize in 1851. These boats are 
largely used in the coastguard service. 


Of the life-boat societies which no longer 
exist as separate bodies we will describe but one. 
It would be wearisome to enter into further 
details, and it would serve no useful purpose. 

The Lincolnshire Coast Shipwreck Associa- 
tion was instituted in July 1827, being " in 
union " with the Royal National Life-Boat In- 
stitution. By 1829 it controlled a life-boat at 
Gibraltar Point, another at Theddlethorpe, and 
a third at Donna Nook. It also had provided 
Manby's Gun Apparatus at Skegness, Ingold- 
mells, and Saltfleet. The Gibraltar Point boat 
was removed later to Skegness, and another 
was placed at Huttoft and afterwards removed 
to Sutton. In the year 1863 these four life-boats 
had become past work, and the equipment, etc., 
was practically worn out. Under these cir- 
cumstances, since to replace everything would 
have meant the expenditure of the whole of the 
Association's small capital, it was decided to 
approach the Royal National Lifeboat Institu- 
tion. After certain negotiations an arrange- 
ment was come to, and a union between the 
two bodies was brought about. 

This society may be taken as a fair example 
of the smaller associations which have gradually 
been absorbed by the Institution. What is of 
more interest to us now is the fact that a number 

variously owned life-boats still exist, and 


that there are some fifteen of them in different 
parts of the kingdom. 

Of all the smaller societies the Tyne Lifeboat 
Society certainly has pride of place, since it is 
without question the oldest life-boat society 
in the world. It was founded when Messrs. 
Fairies and Rookwood and the Gentlemen of 
the Lawe House placed the first life-boat, the 
Original, at South Shields in 1789. We have 
already described this vessel. She was built 
by Greathead at a cost of about 76, and did 
good work until 1830, when she was wrecked 
and became a total loss. Her first service was 
to a Sunderland brig in 1791. 

In 1803 there were thirty-one more of these 
boats in different parts of the United Kingdom, 
and under the control of various bodies. In 
1833 the Shields type was improved, and the 
Tyne was built for the Tyne Lifeboat Society 
by Oliver. In this boat air-cases were sub- 
stituted for cork, the watertight deck was raised, 
and six tubes were provided for clearing the 
surplus water. She had a central air-case ex- 
tending nearly the whole length of the boat. 
The Tyne was rebuilt in 1845 and withdrawn 
from service in 1887, having saved 1024 lives. 
The Bedford, built in 1886, had a large closed 
water ballast tank, holding about 2 tons of 

{Photo, E. Permain, North Shields. 


Jo. A ini.-i:n.\i 1. 1- IHK "NOtFOLK AND SUFFOLK** TYPE. 


/ r , ' ' , .- ' , 


Even one of the latest of these Shields 
boats, the Tom Perry, shows very little departure 
from the original design of the first boat built 
by Greathead :n 1789. The curve of the keel 
is somewhat modified, but it is still considerably 
rockered. These boats are pulling boats only 
and are not provided with sails ; they steer with 
an oar. The dimensions of the Tom Perry are 
33 ft. 8 in. long by 10 ft. 8 in. beam, and 3 ft. 
6 in. deep. 

In 1841 another of the numerous competitions 
was held in South Shields. Two of the models 
submitted were afterwards shown at the 1851 
Exhibition, namely, those of George Farrow 
and William Greener. The feature of each of 
them was a closed tank for water ballast, and 
this principle evidently first came into use at 

V about this time. 
The accident to the South Shields boat on 
4th December 1849, which we have already 
[escribed, was the first in which loss of life had 

The Tyne Life Boat Society now owns four 
>oats, three of which are stationed in the river 
and one outside to the southward of the South 
Pier. Their dimensions are about 32 ft. long 
11 ft. beam. 

During recent years the completion of the 
forth and South Piers, and the gradual sub- 


stitution in the merchant service of steam for 
sail, have so far reduced the dangers of the 
Tyne entrance that there is far less demand 
than of old for the services of these life-boats. 

The income of the society is derived from 
the voluntary contributions of shipowners, 
which sums are collected by the custom-houses 
when the vessels are cleared. No appeal is 
ever made to the general public. In this way 
some 200 per annum is collected, the bulk of 
which comes through the Newcastle-on-Tyne 
custom - house. Of course, the society has 
further income from invested capital, etc. In 
1905 it was thought necessary to place the 
organisation on a proper legal basis, and it 
was, therefore, incorporated under the Companies 
Acts of 1862 and 1890. There is a president, 
vice-president, and a small committee. 

The east coast has been particularly prom- 
inent in providing life-boats by independent 
effort. There is one now at Gorleston which 
has done fine service. The Elizabeth Simpson, 
as she is called, is the successor of a series of 
volunteer life-boats which have worked from 
Gorleston harbour for over fifty years. The 
first (the Rescue) was built in 1853, and served 
the port for thirteen years. On one occasion 
she was twice capsized on Yarmouth Bar a 
catastrophe which resulted in the loss of thirty- 


seven lives, nineteen of her own crew and 
eighteen men rescued from the George KendaL 
The Rescue was succeeded by the Refuge in 1866, 
and this boat, after doing splendid work for 
twenty-two years, shared the same fate as her 
predecessor. She was capsized on 14th October 
1888 and four of her crew were drowned. The 
present boat was built in 1889. She has a fine 
record, having been called out thirty times on 
service during the years 1903-1905. 

On 19th January of the latter year she did 
good work in conjunction with the Institution's 
steam life-boat James Stevens, their sailing life- 
boat, the Mark Lane, and the South Shields boat, 
the Tom Perry. They were all launched to the 
four- masted barque Optima, ashore on the 
Hasbro' Sands, and her crew of thirty-two was 
transferred to the Elizabeth Simpson and the 
Mark Lane. The four boats stood by the ship 
until the following morning. The weather then 
having moderated a little, the crew returned 
aboard, and tugs endeavoured to tow the vessel 
off, but the sea increased in violence and it was 
finally found necessary to effect a second rescue. 
This was managed with extreme difficulty, and 
it was not until nearly ten that the Elizabeth 
Simpson returned to her station. 

The boat is managed by a committee of nine 
and an honorary secretary ; the former includes 


the four trustees and the first and second cox- 
swains of the boat. 

At Sheringham a private life-boat is provided 
for the use of the fishermen. She is of particular 
interest in that she exemplifies again the devotion 
of the east countrymen to the particular form of 
vessel to which they are accustomed. 

The first boat, the Augusta, was built in 1836 
by the Hon. Charlotte Upcher of Sheringham 
Hall. She was 33 ft. 5| in. in length by 10 ft. 
3 in. beam, and pulled fourteen oars, each of 
which could be double-banked on occasion. 
She was designed on the lines of the crab boats 
in common use on that part of the coast. 

The first rescue which she accomplished was 
of the crew, numbering seventeen hands, of a 
Russian barque which had been beating about 
the North Sea for fourteen days. She eventually 
mistook Blakeney Church for Dover Castle, so 
completely was the captain out of his reckoning. 
After this the Augusta's records are incomplete, 
but for fifty-six years she did fine service, 
assisting the crews of at least fifteen vessels in 
addition to the local crab boats. During all this 
time she never lost a single man, and there is 
scarcely a family in Sheringham of which at 
least one member does not owe his life to the 
old boat. In 1893 she was pronounced unfit 
for further service, and Mrs. Upcher, a daughter- 


in-law of the donor of the Augusta, intimated 
her wish to provide another boat in memory of 
her late husband. This vessel was built on 
similar lines to her predecessor, but with some- 
what increased beam. She was copper fastened 
and constructed of the finest materials obtain- 
able. Her length over all is 34 ft. 8 in., beam 
11 ft. 3 in., and depth 4 ft. 4 in. She was 
christened the Henry Eamey Upcher, and launched 
on the 4th September 1894. Since that day 
she has saved one hundred and forty lives, and 
the fishermen who man her have the highest 
confidence in her ability and safety. She is the 
property of Mr. H. M. Upcher of Sheringham 
Hall, who maintains her entirely. 

The crew are all volunteers, and receive no 
reward except in the way of salvage, when their 
services are requisitioned for such purposes. 
They have absolute control over the boat, and 
launch her whenever they think right. 

Further down the coast there is another of 

>c volunteer life-boats at Walton-on-the-Naze. 
The True to the Core was provided by subscrip- 
tion and launched in May 1894. 

Her first service was to the ketch Forest Oak 

of Sunderland, ashore eight miles out on the 

Swin. It was blowing a heavy gale from 

the Nor-Nor-West, with blinding snow squalls. 

The Gunfleet Lighthouse telephoned the news 


ashore and the life-boat was launched. She just 
succeeded in rescuing the crew of four men before 
the ketch was overwhelmed. Since then she has 
been out thirty times, and has assisted and saved 
over two hundred and twenty lives. 

This boat is of the Norfolk and Suffolk type, 
40 ft. in length by 13 beam, and drawing 3 ft. of 
water. She is fitted with a 45-h.p. Brooke motor. 
She is now to be withdrawn from service. 

The Frinton volunteer life-boat is the property 
of the town. It is vested in three trustees and 
managed by a committee. The present boat has 
been on the station four years, and has already 
been out on service twenty-seven times. The 
last launch was to the s.s. Antigone, on which 
occasion she rescued twenty-six men. In April 
1911 she put out to the assistance of a Russian 
schooner in a fierce blizzard. Unfortunately, 
one of the crew was lost overboard and drowned. 

A privately controlled life-boat has been 
maintained at Margate since 1878. For twenty 
years the vessels were of the surf -boat type, but, 
since the disaster which overtook the Friend of 
all Nations in December 1897, a longer and 
heavier boat has been provided. On the 2nd of 
December of that year she was launched with 
the other Margate life-boat to a vessel in distress. 
As she crossed the Spit of Nayland Rock, to the 
west of Margate, a heavy sea struck herj-and jshe 


was capsized. Only four out of a crew of 
thirteen survived. Public sympathy was aroused, 
and the sum of no less than 10,275 was collected 
and devoted to a relief fund for the widows and 
orphans, to a suitable memorial, and to the pro- 
vision of another life-boat. 

At Shanklin, in the Isle of Wight, there is a 
life-boat which was entirely provided by a sub- 
scription raised by the Sunday School children 
of the island. She was built in 1879, christened 
the Dove, and stationed first at Totland Bay. 
She remained there for five years, and during that 
time she rescued the crews of four vessels, saving 
in all thirty-six lives. She was transferred to 
Shanklin in 1884, where she is still stationed and 
does good service. 

There are four boats in Scotland which owe 
allegiance to others than the Royal National 
Life-Boat Institution. That at Boarhills is now 
of very venerable age. She was formerly at 
St. Andrews, but when discarded by that station 
she was purchased and repaired by the late 
Mr. George Bruce and presented by him to his 
native town. In addition to this gift he built a 
boathouse, and blasted away the rocks in order 
to facilitate launching. Mr. Bruce was prompted 
to this generous action by witnessing the wreck 
of the Swcdisli brig Napoleon, which was lost 
at Boavliills with all hands in 1864. The last 


launch of this boat was to the schooner Frances 
of Drammen. The service was handsomely recog- 
nised by the Norwegian Government, and Mr. 
Bruce received a medal as founder of the station. 

The Aberdeen Harbour Commissioners possess 
two life-boats, both self-righters. One is kept 
within the harbour, on Pocra Jetty, and is 
used for assisting any vessel that requires her 
services within the breakwater. She is hoisted 
and lowered by apparatus provided for the 
purpose. The second boat is kept in a house 
upon a launching carriage. The latter is the only 
one of its kind in the 'kingdom. It is especially 
adapted for running on sand. Both vessels are 
manned by the pilots of the port. These men 
are always on duty near the boats, and live close 
alongside of them, so that a crew can readily be 
provided in an emergency. 

In December 1906 a sad accident occurred 
on the bar of the Helmsdale River. A boat was 
swamped when returning from fishing, and two 
young fishermen lost their lives. A third was 
rescued with extreme difficulty. Soon after- 
wards a public meeting was summoned, and it 
was decided to provide a life-boat for the port. 
A committee was formed, and was empowered to 
take steps at once to procure a suitable vessel, 
the cost to be raised by subscription. 

No time was lost, and an order was placed 


COB 1 1. 1 R-.\A \- MHA RICH. 
By permission of the Htlmsdale Life-Boat Committee. 

[Photo, St 

Hi;. 31. I ill-: LIFE-BOA1 . M'.ING TO THE 



immediately with the Thames Ironworks Co. 
Limited to build a 28-foot self-righter. She 
was constructed of the finest materials and in 
accordance with the most modern designs. 
Her beam is 7 feet and depth 4 feet, and she 
is provided with end-boxes and thirty-four 
other watertight compartments. She was duly 
delivered and launched, being christened Cobhar 
Nan Mharich (the mariner's help) by the Duchess 
of Sutherland on 4th October 1909. She is kept 
afloat from October to May, and in a boathouse 
during the remainder of the year. The local 
fishermen provide a voluntary crew. She is a 
pulling life-boat, and is provided with no sailing 
gear, since her work lies within the precincts of 
the harbour. 

A vessel at Brighton is owned by the Cor- 
poration. Mrs. J. P. Whittingham, who died 
in 1874, left to the town the sum of 300 to 
purchase a life-boat in memory of her husband. 
The vessel was bought and the balance of the 

nest invested, producing an annual income 
of 4 odd. The remainder of the cost of up- 
keep is met from the interest on a sum of 500, 
presented at a later date by a Mr. William 
NVillis. A light surf-boat has been provided, 
which is manned voluntarily by a crew of ten. 
(See Fig. 31.) They receive no payment for 
rescue work, but a small allowance is made to 


them for attendance at the quarterly practices. 
On 19th April 1900 the John Whittingham 
was instrumental in saving the lives of two 
blue-jackets from H.M.S. Resolute. A boat 
capsized which was conveying " liberty " men 
ashore from the man-of-war. The life-boat was 
launched last on 10th April 1904 to the ketch 
Antelope, from which she rescued the crew of 
three men. 

At Fair Island is a State-owned life-boat. 
She is controlled by the Board of Trade, and is 
worked, together with a cliff ladder apparatus, 
by an enrolled company of volunteers number- 
ing twenty-two men. She is exercised once a 
quarter, and during the past ten years has been 
out three times on service and has saved many 
lives. She is a surf-boat. 

The Board of Trade also manages the 
Ramsgate life-boat, and pays the crew for 
services rendered. The vessel itself, however, 
belongs to the Royal National Life-Boat In- 
stitution, which keeps her up and supplies gear 
and stores. 

Redcar still possesses the old Shields type 
of life-boat, the Zetland. She dates back to the 
year 1800, and was sister to the Original of 
Greathead. In 1880 she was launched in the 
absence of the other life-boats to the brig Luna, 
and rescued her crew. 


A life-boat at Spurn Head, controlled by the 
Humber Conservancy, has recently been taken 
over by the Royal National Life-Boat Institution. 

In nearly all the towns and villages which 
we have mentioned, the Institution has life-boats 
in addition to those named. 



THE guiding principle in the whole conduct of 
the English life-boat service is the fact that it 
is a voluntary one. The same applies to the 
majority of these associations throughout the 
world, founded as they are on English lines 
and worked on English methods so far as may 
be. Because the men are volunteers and offer 
their services of their own free will, it is due to 
them, first, that they shall have a voice in the 
selection of their equipment; and, secondly, 
that they shall be supplied with everything 
of the best the finest boats, the soundest 
gear, the most perfect material that money 
can buy. Nearly a hundred years ago the fact 
was recognised that the English fisherman must 
be provided with a form of boat to which he 
was accustomed, or towards the employment 
of which his own inclinations led him. In his 
report on the Pre-Institution Life-Boats of 1821 
the celebrated Captain Manby shrewdly re- 
marks : 



" It (the life-boat) differs also much in its 
construction from that particular form of boat 
which obtains in different maritime districts, 
to which, it is well known, those who use it 
are stubbornly attached, and in which alone 
they possess skill and feel confidence." 

That the men are opinionated is undeniable ; 
perhaps of all classes they are the most con- 
servative in their likes and dislikes. But even 
if they do sometimes appear stubborn, they can 
claim to know better than anyone else what 
type of boat is best suited to their own peculiar 
requirements. In some cases they may be 
wrong in their arguments, but they are certainly 
right in their contention that they can work 
best with the instruments that best suit them. 
They are open to reason, but the reason must 
be accompanied by the amplest demonstration 
if it is to be accepted as sound. 

Perhaps the most instructive case in point 
was the continued refusal of the Norfolk and 
Suffolk bcachmen to abandon their system of 
loose water in the boat until a better method 
was forced upon their notice. The failure of 
their own device under test conditions, and the 
success of the method which had been adopted 
;e where, convinced them where every argu- 
ment had failed. 

In view of the absolute necessity that the 


men should be satisfied with the boat provided, 
the Institution has followed for a great while 
the following course : The crew enrolled at 
any particular station is given free choice, not 
only as to the type of boat to be supplied 
to them, but as to any modifications in detail 
that they may themselves suggest, provided, 
that is, that the safety of the boat is not affected. 
In order that the choice may be a real one, 
they are given the opportunity, through their 
own representatives, of inspecting any particular 
vessels that they consider likely to fulfil their 
requirements. When a new boat is needed 
on a station, the district inspector first submits 
a list of those places where the visiting deputa- 
tion can see boats of various types, can watch 
them launched under proper conditions, and 
can consult the local coxswains as to their be- 
haviour and powers. Any number of points 
have to be considered, for the conditions which 
obtain at one place may be wholly different 
but a few miles away. 

Three men are chosen to make the visits of 
inspection, and, as a rule, their judgment can 
be relied upon to represent the united opinion 
of the remainder of the crew. Even when they 
prefer to retain the old type of life-boat to which 
they are accustomed, they are afforded the 
opportunity of knowing and testing new gear, 


new methods of launching, and new ideas gener- 
ally. If they desire they can visit three or four 
stations, their expenses, of course, being paid by 
the Institution. On their return, they discuss 
the various points with their fellows, lay before 
them all the pros and cons of the boats that they 
have seen, and consider whether they can suggest 
any improvement which will make one or other 
of them even more suitable for the work of their 
own station. Of course, their decision is subject 
to the confirmation of the chief inspector, for 
it is possible that the men may be misled by 
their enthusiasm or by a misapprehension of 
some particular point. But it is seldom, indeed, 
that their judgment leads them astray; as a 
rule, their choice is found to be a right and proper 
one, and they are provided with a boat which 
is not only admirably suitable to the station, but 
acceptable to the men in every way. 

It is the same with the gear and equipment. 
The men have only to express a wish to have 
something supplied for their use, and, unless 
it is obviously unsuitable, they will get it. It is 
seldom any good to try to force anything upon 
II them. They must see its advantages for them- 
selves before they will consider its adoption. 

When it comes to the actual provision and 
construction of the boats and gear, it is perfectly 
obvious that the Institution is bound to supply 


everything that is absolutely the best, so far as 
human skill and human judgment can devise. 
If you ask men to risk their lives in boats 
which you yourselves provide, you cannot do less 
than make their safety as certain as can be. 
Under such circumstances, to suggest their using 
anything that is " good enough " is unthinkable, 
so long as a better exists. 

In the same way a boat must often be with- 
drawn and gear condemned which under ordinary 
conditions might still do good service. We say 
" might " advisedly. If it would positively do 
good service, it is undoubtedly the duty of 
those responsible to avoid extravagant renewals. 
But so soon as the slightest element of chance 
is involved, then the doubtful gear must go. 
Throughout the whole of the Institution's 
practical work this choice of the best possible is 
characteristic. If ever an accident has occurred 
through knowledgeably faulty material, I have 
yet to hear of it. 

To take the building of the life-boats first. 
We have traced throughout the steps taken for 
a hundred and twenty years to evolve the best 
type of boat, now we will deal briefly with the 
method of constructing them. 

The first self-righting boats were of elm and 
clinker built, that is to say, the planks of the 
skin overlapped one another. Later, elm gave 



place to fir, and the double diagonal principle was 
adopted. By this we mean that the planking is 
laid diagonally from gunwale to keel, and there 
is an inner and outer skin, the seams of each of 
which run across one another. In the one case 
they slant from left to right, and from right to left 
in the other. Now the boats are built of mahogany 
on the same system ; a few, however, are of larch 
or oak. They are, of course, copper fastened, 
and a layer of painted calico is enclosed between 
the two mahogany skins. The frames of the boat 
are of Canada elm. 

The greatest precautions are taken to make 
the side and end air-cases absolutely water- 
tight. The number of these in some boats is 
as many as one hundred. They are of white 
pine, smeared with mastic; a calico covering 
receives another coat of mastic and then two 
of white lead. An official of the Institution is 
permanently engaged in supervising all material, 
etc., of boats under construction. The whole 
cost of the boat, irrespective of the gear, is 
nowadays from 800 for the smaller self-righters 
up to 1700 for a 43-foot Watson. The modern 
life-boat weighs from two tons to no less than 

\tcen tons in the largest sizes. 
After the life-boat has been received from 

e builders, and before she is sent to her 
coast station, she is put through a series of most 


elaborate and stringent tests. Nothing is left 
to chance or conjecture, and even the essential 
qualities of her class, such as stability and right- 
ing power, are rigidly tested. To begin with, 
the following particulars are noted and placed 
on record : 

Draught of water forward, aft, and down 
tubes : 

(a) Light. 

(6) Crew and gear in boat, water ballast 
tanks empty. 

(c) Crew and gear in boat, after tank only 

(d) Crew and gear in boat, two tanks full, 
and so on. 

The stability is then ascertained, each man 
of the crew being represented by a weight of 
eleven stone, the following tests being applied : 

(1) Number of men on gunwale to bring it 
awash, with crew and gear in place, with tanks 
both empty and full. 

(2) Number of men to bring deck awash, with 
crew and gear in place, with tanks empty and 
tanks full. 

Afterwards the self-righting boats are cap- 
sized under a series of four conditions. These 
are : 

(a) With full crew and all gear on board, 
tanks empty, masts and sails stowed. 



(b) With full crew and all gear on board, 
tanks full, masts and sails stowed. 

(c) With full crew and all gear on board, 
tanks full, masts and sails set. 

(d) With full crew and all gear on board, 
tanks empty, masts and sails set. 

The capsizing is effected by means of a 
crane ashore, ropes being passed completely 
under the boat and round her, as in Illustra- 
tions 32 and 33. 

As will be remembered, the tests for a self- 
righter have gradually been increased in severity. 
Prior to 1883 they merely had to right them- 
selves when empty, with no gear aboard at all. In 
that year, however, the chief inspector reported 
that the test, hitherto, had been insufficient and 
misleading, and from that time forward the 
boats were tried with all their gear aboard 
except the sails. 

After the Southport accident in 1886, when 
the two boats failed to right under those terrible 
conditions, the test was made severer still. 
Since then the boats have been expected to act 
up to their title with everything crew, gear, 
masts, etc. aboard, and with their sails set, 
the foresheet not being belayed. The mizzen 
and jib sheets are fast, but the foresheet in a 
life-boat is always expected to be kept in hand 
in case of emergency. Our three illustrations 


are from photographs of capsizing trials made 
for purposes of demonstration. 

When the boat is completely overturned 
her draught of water is measured, and on her 
recovery the time is recorded which she occupies 
in freeing herself of water by means of the 
relieving tubes. If the boat fails in the righting 
tests or proves herself to be too slow in the 
manoeuvre, she is required to be altered until 
she is wholly satisfactory in this respect. If 
she acquits herself properly she has then to 
submit to an exhaustive examination of all 
her fittings. She is afterwards weighed, and a 
final furbishing up makes her ready for her 
station. There she remains until she fails to 
pass the final test of all the test of time. 

The average life of a life-boat under ordinary 
circumstances is from fifteen to twenty years. 
Of course in any other walk in life she would 
be expected to be equal to her work for twice 
or three times as long. There are plenty of 
yachts on the register built over fifty years 
ago ; and I am acquainted with more than one 
small sailing vessel that left the stocks before 
the launch of the first life-boat in 1790. That 
is not the sort of thing, however, upon which 
the Institution's inspectors look with favour. 
The boat must be condemned and withdrawn 
from service so soon as there is any possibility 

[Photo, Bert Hole, Watchct. 

\Photo, Bert Hole, Watchct. 




of her failure in any respect at all. Air-cases 
may become leaky, or she may become obsolete, 
some new type being palpably better fitted for 
her station. 

By the way, this word" obsolete" is not always 
rightly understood. I have heard it used as 
a term of the highest endearment. It was at a 
concert to a life-boat crew given after a demon- 
stration. The men had been parading the 
town in one of those out-of-date vessels which 
are kept for this particular purpose. It fell 
to their spokesman to say a few words in reply 
to a vote of thanks. This is how he concluded 
his speech : 

" I've heard tell," he said, " that the boat 
we had to-day was an obsolete boat. But I'll 

have you to know, that our boat down to 

is a proper obsolete boat, that she is ! " 

Their boat down to was a 38-foot 

Watson of the newest pattern, that had only 
a short time before been supplied to the 
station ! 

Of course, it often happens that a boat is 
scrapped long before she succumbs to the 
weight of years. She may be so damaged in 
service that it is not worth while to repair her. 
She is condemned, and a new boat is offered 
to the station. 

Nowadays, there are further tests which have 


to be applied to engines. The period of appro- 
bation through which a motor must pass is a 
long and trying one ; but to enter here into the 
various points would be too tedious and too 
technical altogether. 

When received on the station, a life-boat is 
generally launched for the first time by some 
person of consequence, and a service is held 
dedicating her to her high calling. In France 
there is more ceremony even than here; as is 
seen from the picture of the dedication of a 
life-boat at Havre (Fig. 56). 

Having provided a life-boat for the station, 
we will now proceed to trail the horse behind 
the cart and to find a station for the boat. It 
seems a simple matter, but really it is not nearly 
so easy as it looks. If the choice rested entirely 
with the Institution and its officials, there would 
be no difficulty : the trouble comes when in- 
experienced persons act on their own kindly 
impulses. It not infrequently happens that 
some wealthy lady or gentleman happens to 
be witness of a wreck, where life is lost owing 
to the want of a life-boat on the spot. Years 
later perhaps a sum of money is left to the 
Institution to provide a station at this particular 
point. The legacy is earmarked in the will ; 
it can be diverted for no other purposes; yet 
as likely as not a boat at that particular place 


would be useless. Under such circumstances, 
a consultation takes place with the leading 
experts in the neighbourhood, and those who 
know best decide whether the money is to be 
accepted on the stated terms. Quite often it 
has to be refused ; since, even with the boat 
and equipment paid for, the cost of upkeep 
would not be justified merely because of one 
totally fortuitous disaster. What is quite as 
likely is that, even with a boat there, it would 
be impossible to man her. There may be no 
longshore population, no men on the spot who 
are fitted by their profession to handle the 
boat in time of need. In the English, as in all 
voluntary services, the boat is provided for the 
men, and not the men for the boat. She can 
only be stationed where there is a crew ready- 
made to man her. 

It would be well if intending testators would 
take the hint and leave the money uncondition- 
ally, in order that those who know best may 
spend it as their knowledge guides them. 

The first consideration, then, in founding a 
station is whether it is needed, and the second, 
whether a crew can be provided. In order to 
man a life-boat properly, it is necessary to be 
able to enrol a coxswain, assistant coxswain, 
bowman, and signalman, and, if possible, twice 
as many men as the boat pulls oars. Thus for 



a small self -lighter twenty-four men are pro- 
perly required. 

The coxswain, acting under the honorary 
secretary of the local committee, is responsible 
for boat, gear, and boathouse. He is the 
life-boat's captain, and, when there is no time 
to consult with the honorary secretary, he 
must at once summon the crew, launch the 
boat, and proceed to sea. In the event of an 
insufficient number of his enrolled men being 
present, he must call for volunteers and get 
the best crew he can. The coxswain being 
absent, the assistant coxswain, of course, takes 
charge ; when his superior officer is present he 
acts, as it were, as first mate of the vessel. The 
bowman is second mate, and the signalman's 
duties are obvious. 

These four officers receive a small salary or 
retaining fee of from l to 12 annually. The 
remainder of the crew are paid according to the 
services they perform, and in these rewards 
the officers participate. The payments for 
service vary according to the time of day and 
the time of year ; and a sum is also allowed per 
man for each quarterly practice. Ten shillings is 
the award to each man for a day launch, and 
one pound for a service at night ; in the winter 
these payments are increased to fifteen shillings 
by day and thirty shillings by night. If a day 



service extends into the night or vice versa, 
both day and night awards are paid. A reward 
of seven shillings is also given to the person 
who first notifies a wreck, and small sums are 
awarded to all who volunteer to help in the 

With regard to salvage services the Institu- 
tion lays down stringent conditions. It points 
out that it exists under charter for the purpose 
of saving life from shipwreck ; but, as a rigid 
adherence to the precise object of the Institu- 
tion would lead to the loss of much valuable 
property, and at the same time be unjust to 
the life-boat's crews, composed for the most 
part of men whose calling is to render property 
salvage services, it permits the life-boat's crews 
to use its boats for such services under the 
following regulations : 

1. The life-boat is never to be launched for 
any purpose other than for saving life without 
the direct sanction of the honorary secretary, 
or of some other authority connected with the 
Local Committee, and on no account to be used 
for other purposes, to the injury of private 

2. When a life-boat has been launched for the 
purpose of saving life, and it is found on arriving 
at the vessel in danger that the master, or other 
responsible person in charge, wishes to engage 


the services of the life-boat's crew to endeavour 
to save the vessel, the life-boat's crew are at 
liberty to accept an engagement with such 
master or other responsible person in charge, 
for this purpose, and to make use of the life- 
boat under the following conditions : 

(a) That all reasonable care be taken of the 
life-boat and her gear. 

(6) That it be clearly understood that the 
position of the life-boat's crew towards the 
Institution is changed from a life-boat crew 
endeavouring to save life, and entitled to be 
paid for such endeavours by the Institution, 
to a party of salvors who have borrowed the 
life-boat for property salvage purposes, for the 
remuneration of which services they are to 
look to the person in charge of the vessel who 
has engaged them. Should the life-boat or her 
gear be damaged or gear be lost while rendering 
such services, the cost of repair and making 
good to be met by the salvors. 

(c) That all the expenses connected with the 
launching and hauling up of the life-boat be the 
first charge on the salvage money received. 

(d) Should the attempt of the life-boat's 
crew to salve the vessel be successful, but the 
amount of salvage money paid them be less 
than the amount the crew, helpers, etc., would 
have been entitled to for an endeavour to save 

{Photo, Judges Ltd., Hastings. 

This photograph ivas taken in a blinding snowstorm, and ivhen nearly dark. 

{Photo, Fred. Kitto &> Son, Fowey. 





life, the difference will be made good by the 
Institution. Should, however, they be unsuccess- 
ful in salving the vessel, they will be paid by 
the Institution as though they had launched 
for the purpose of saving life. 

A salvage launch comes about under some 
such circumstances as these : On 25th April 
1908 the Hastings life-boat was launched in a 
blinding snowstorm to the rescue of the crew 
of the barge Amy of London. The vessel was 
in the direst peril. She had lost her topmast 
and bowsprit, and, her anchor failing to hold, 
she was fast being driven ashore. A gale was 
blowing from the west-south-west with a 
heavy sea. Just as the life-boat reached the 
wreck the wind changed, and, since this made 
the salving of the vessel possible, the captain 
begged the life-boat men to help him. His own 
crew were too exhausted for further efforts. 
The coxswain agreed, and, taking turns at the 
helm, he and his men succeeded in bringing 
the barge to an anchor near Dungeness. The 
life-boat was beached there after a service lasting 
eight hours, it being too rough to take her back 
to Hastings. 

Our photograph of this launch is almost a 
unique one ; it was taken in heavy snow and 
with darkness coming T on. 

The officers of a life-boat are granted pensions 


or gratuities, when retired on account of age, 
health, accident, or abolition of their post. 
Furthermore, men injured on service are granted 
allowances on a liberal scale, and similar allow- 
ances are made to the widows and children of 
any who, unfortunately, lose their lives. As an 
example, in the case of the Caistor disaster in 
November 1901, when nine of the men were 
drowned, the sum of 2000 was granted to- 
wards the fund that was raised locally for the 
relief of the widows and orphans, and the 
funeral and other expenses were all defrayed by 
the Institution. In this connection, the follow- 
ing must be quoted : 

" The committee awarded the sum of 
twenty-five guineas to Mr. James Haylett, 
senior coxswain of the Caistor life-boat, in 
recognition of his great gallantry and of the 
remarkable endurance he displayed at his ad- 
vanced age, seventy-eight years, in remaining 
on the beach for twelve hours, wet through, and 
without food, this being the veteran's crowning 
act of half a century's life-saving in connection 
with the Institution's life-boats, resulting in the 
saving of hundreds of lives." 

His Majesty King Edward did James Haylett 
the high honour of presenting him with the 
Institution's rewards. It was he who, as spokes- 
man of his crew, was the author of the well- 



known phrase, " The Caistor men never turn 
back " ; and it is on record that, at the funeral 
of this most famous of coxswains, his own crew, 
who were gathered to do him the last honours, 
were summoned away from the graveside to 
launch the boat to a distressed vessel. 

It is, perhaps, when faced with the necessity 
of enlisting the services of a scratch crew that 
the coxswain's difficulties are the greatest. To a 
host of other risks are added all the dangers 
involved in the employment of inexperienced 
men. And, nowadays, it is no work for the 
unskilful. The long, heavy oars, the unusual 
stroke, the stern conditions, all contribute to 
exhaust even the strongest, where a far weaker 
man, who was enured to the conditions, would 
give an excellent account of himself. 

A wonderful instance of what can be done 
under such circumstances occurred at Buckhaven, 
in Fifeshire, on 3rd September 1902. A barque, 
the Nornen of Christiansund, had gone on to 
the rocks in Largo Bay, and the life-boat was 
summoned shortly after midnight. The coxswain, 
assistant coxswain, and most of the enrolled crew 
were away fishing, so that the bowman was obliged 
to collect a scratch crew to man the boat. Even 
landsmen volunteered, and several of those at 
the oars were miners. On reaching the mouth 
of the harbour, it was too much for them, and 


the acting coxswain was forced to return. 
Nothing daunted, he refilled the empty places, 
and, although without a full complement, he 
started again for the wrecked vessel. 

The crew of the Nornen were safely landed, 
but the captain refused to leave his ship. On 
the return of the life-boat this second time, a 
consultation was held as to the proper course 
to pursue, and it was finally decided to make 
sail again and to stand by to save the one man 
remaining. Unfortunately the life-boat struck 
the rocks at the harbour entrance and was badly 
damaged. She returned home again, but the 
acting coxswain was not to be beaten, and, with 
his half water-logged boat and his weary crew, 
he made a fourth attempt. This time he 
cleared the rocks, and, reaching the Nornen, 
he lay alongside the night through. Towards 
morning a tug-boat brought the crew back 
aboard, but, it being found hopeless to save 
the ship, the life-boat at last took aboard 
both captain and crew and landed them at 

So far back as 1803, Mr. Cathcart Dempster, 
the same who provided the first St. Andrews 
life-boat, volunteered his services for similar 
duty. The gale was so violent that the fishermen 
could not be persuaded to launch the boat, until 
Mr. Dempster, a Major Horsburgh, and Mr. 



David Stewart, a ship's captain, offered to go 
themselves to encourage the men. They success- 
fully saved the crew of the Meanwell of Scar- 

Of course, where horses are usually required 
for the purpose of moving the boat, arrange- 
ments are made for their due provision in an 
emergency. However, should there be any 
difficulty in obtaining them, they can be com- 
mandeered, under certain conditions, in accord- 
ance with the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. 

The provision of life-boats is not the only 
work which the Institution undertakes. We have 
related how, at its instigation, the Scottish 
fishermen were persuaded to adopt a decked 
vessel, by means of which the annual mortality 
was reduced greatly. Nowadays, it similarly 
assists fishermen by providing a life-belt at half 
cost, this being an appliance to which they have 
taken only after a long fight against prejudice. 
In addition to this, the Institution dissemin- 
ates information as to the resuscitation of the 
apparently drowned, the right understanding 
of the barometer, and the proper management 
of boats in a heavy surf. 

A very important branch, however, of its 
activities is in the rewarding of fishermen and 
others who risk their lives to save their fellows. 
The following handbill is extensively circulated: 



Rewards of Money or Medals 

Are granted by the Royal National Life-Boat 
Institution to all persons who AT THE RISK OF 
THEIR OWN LIVES save, or endeavour to save, 
by means of shore-boats or otherwise, the lives 
of those on board vessels or boats wrecked or in 
distress on any part of the coasts of the United 

In all cases the rewards are given without 
further delay than is necessary to obtain proof 
of the merits of each case, and to ensure payment 
being made to the right parties. 

Application to be made to the secretary. 
By order of the Committee. 

In accordance with these provisions, rewards 
are granted annually for the saving of from a 
hundred to two hundred lives, these taking 
the form of medals, decorations, barometers, 
and certificates, in addition to money. A list 
of these services is published annually in the 
Institution's Report. 

In the year 1838, silver medals were granted 
in this way to William Darling, lighthouse 
keeper, and his daughter, Grace Darling. The 
story is not too well known to bear repetition. 



On the evening of the 6th of September 1838, 
the Forfarshire, a steamer of some 300 tons, 
struck on a precipitous portion of one of the 
Fame Islands and was broken in two by the 
heavy seas. Some of the crew and a passenger 
got away in a boat when the vessel struck first, 
but the remainder had to remain on the rock 
till daylight. William Darling discovered them 
from Longstone, where he was stationed, by 
means of a glass ; but he shrank from attempting 
a service in that boiling sea. His daughter Grace, 
however, implored him to allow her to go with 
him to their aid. At last he yielded, against his 
better judgment, and, assisted by his wife and 
daughter, he launched a boat. The two rescuers 
each took an oar, and succeeded in covering the 
mile of waters which separated them from the 
wrecked vessel. They found nine survivors, and 
brought them back safely to the lighthouse on 

Grace Darling was, at this time, about three- 
and-twenty years of age. In addition to the medal 
of the Society, a sum of 700 was collected 
publicly and presented to her. Four years 
later she died of consumption, and was buried 
in the graveyard of the mainland church of 

We do not go so far as to say that the hope 
of reward will directly inspire a brave action, 


but there can be no doubt that the certainty 
of recognition must be an incentive to many. 
In an ancient report of the Royal Humane 
Society, the case is thus quaintly stated : " The 
alarm is sounded ; an heroic individual, animated 
by an impulse of humanity, or by the rewards of 
the Humane Society, exposes his own life to 
succour and to save." The italics are ours. 

It seems rather an unkind way to put it, but, 
all the same, the fact remains that, in consequence 
of offers on these lines, there is many a life saved 
which might otherwise be sacrificed. 

There is a difference between the methods 
of these two Associations, in that the Royal 
Humane Society's awards are intended princi- 
pally for those who save life by swimming, while 
the use of shore-boats in a seaway is what 
is particularly encouraged by the Institution's 
grants and medals. 



THE first necessity of a life-boat station is, of 
course, some convenient and suitable accom- 
modation for the boat ; the second, a safe and 
speedy way of getting her into the water. 

The boathouses which the Institution pro- 
vides in the majority of cases are quite common 
objects of the seashore. As a rule, they are 
well built brick or stone structures with a 
slate roof, such as that shown in Fig. 62. They 
are light and well-ventilated, and afford ample 
room for the boat and all her gear. Here she 
is kept either on carriage or slipway, ready at 
a moment's notice to put to sea. As she lies 
lacing the doorway, with oilskins hanging above 
her, she reminds one forcibly of a fire station, 
where the horses stand with harness suspended 
over them, ready on the instant for the call to 

The design of the boathouse is, of course, 
modified in some instances according to its 
position and other conditions ; as are the 



materials of which it is constructed. At some 
places it must necessarily be a much lighter 
affair, being built on the piles of a permanent 
slipway. This is the case at Tenby, where a 
structure of galvanised iron stands at the head 
of the grand slip which is there provided. 
(Fig. 37.) The boat itself rests on the first 
rollers of the ways, ready to be loosed at a 
moment's notice. She is not lowered into the 
water, but slides down without hindrance and 
at a great speed, with crew and gear on board. 
She invariably keeps on an even keel, so truly 
is she balanced, and although bilge-ways are 
provided on the slip, the boat never touches 
them on either side. During the last portion 
of the journey she leaves the rollers and glides 
over a smooth wooden keelway. When re- 
turning from service she is hauled back to her 
position in the house by means of a steel wire 
and a powerful windlass. 

Launching-ways on these lines are provided 
now at a number of stations and in many 
different forms. In fact, we can hardly do 
more than describe, as above, the general 
features of one of them, for they are built to 
suit such widely varying conditions. Some- 
times they are solid, sometimes on piles, some- 
times short and sometimes long ; in fact, the 
requirements of the station are met in every way, 

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as best can be devised. At some places trolley 
ways are provided, and the life-boat, mounted 
on flanged wheels, is transported for a consider- 
able distance to the proper launching - place. 
There is one such at Atherfield, in the Isle of 
Wight, and another of considerable length at 
St. Agnes, Scilly. The commencement of the 
latter is shown in Fig. 27. 

Next in importance to the boathouse is the 
carriage upon which the boat is conveyed to 
the scene of action. The first life-boat of 1789 
was mounted originally upon four low wheels. 
This plan was found to be unsatisfactory, and 
she was afterwards provided with a carriage 
of the most elaborate description. There were 
two huge wheels of 12 feet diameter, with what 
is described as a movable arched axis, to the 
extremities of which the boat was hung in 
slings. She was raised by means of a lever 
and lowered when required. 

The vehicle at present in use is the outcome 
of the combined work of three inventors. In 
1832, Colonel J. Nisbett Colquhoun was chair- 
man of the particular sub-committee of the 
Institution which controls such matters. He 
had a carriage built to his own designs at the 
Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. However, it turned 
out to be both too heavy and too costly, and, 
on the death of Colonel Colquhoun, Lieutenant- 


Colonel A. H. Tulloch, who took charge of his 
department, had another carriage built. It 
was altogether lighter and cheaper, but still 
it was not sufficiently simple for the purpose 
for which it was intended. Captain (after- 
wards Admiral) J. Ross Ward, the Institution's 
inspector, then took the matter up, and sub- 
mitted improved designs which were eventually 

The essential feature of the carriage is the 
keelway, upon which the boat rests on rollers, 
its whole weight being borne by the main axle 
and two ponderous broad-tyred wheels. This 
keelway is secured to the fore-body of the 
carriage by a pin, and can be at once detached 
therefrom. The boat lies with its bow rear- 
ward and its stern towards the horses. One 
can readily understand how easy it is to back 
the whole carriage into the surf and to launch 
the boat from the keelway. On its return the 
fore-body is detached, the carriage reversed, 
and the boat drawn up the easy incline that 
is thus formed. The broad keel suffices to keep 
the boat upright on the rollers, but bilge-pieces 
are provided towards the after part, to prevent 
her listing too far over in launching. The 
carriage is illustrated in Figs. 21 and 40, as well 
as in our frontispiece. As an example of the 
strength of construction, we may mention that 

! 5 


I * 

i X 

I 2 
I ? 


each of the great curved axles is of one piece 
of oak grown to shape and reinforced with iron. 
The brakes are operated by turnscrews to the 
rear of the carriage, and are of immense power. 

In conjunction with this carriage a device 
is used to prevent the wheels sinking into soft 
sand, which was invented by Lieutenant Gart- 
side-Tipping, R.N., a member of the present 
committee of management of the Institution. It 
consists of a series of seven massive, flat links, 
which form a chain round the tyre of each of 
the large wheels. As the wheel turns two of 
the plates or links in succession form a bed 
beneath it which effectively prevents it from 
sinking. They are called sand plates, and their 
use is well illustrated in our picture of a 
German life-boat (Fig. 38). This illustration also 
shows well the form of carriage in general use 
for the light German life-boats. It is interesting 
to compare it with our own heavier vehicles. 

Coming to the permanent fittings of the boats 
themselves, that which is of most interest is the 
drop keel, a device which was not adopted by 
the Institution until 1884. The sliding keel, as 
it was first called, was patented by a Captain 
Schank about 1791, and was tested by the 
British Navy in the same year. The trials took 
place at Teignmouth in February 1791, and 
were very successful. A curious fact about its 



original invention, however, is that so far back 
as 1771 a boat was built at Boston, New Eng- 
land, fitted with a " continuous and uninter- 
rupted" sliding keel, which was intended for no 
other than that Duke of Northumberland who 
was afterwards so intimately connected with 
the first life-boat. 

Greathead contended, in 1802, that he could 
turn all the existing life-boats into sailing-boats 
by the addition of this contrivance, and, in one 
description, Greathead' s first boat is said to have 
had three sliding keels. In 1851, several of 
the models submitted for competition were 
provided with sliding keels in one form and 
another. The Institution, however, found many 
difficulties in the way of their adoption, one being 
the fact that small stones would continually be 
working into the casing of the keel and jamming 
it. This obstacle was overcome by providing 
a flange along the lower edge of the keel, which 
fitted into grooves in the casing and so closed 
the opening effectively. The first of these 
centre-plates were made of rectangular form, 
but now they are of the triangular shape which 
is familiar to all who sail small boats. 

The modern life-boat, as a rule, is fitted 
with either one or two. An unusual feature 
is that, by cutting the line by which it is raised 
and lowered, the whole plate is freed and drops 


clear of the hook at the forward end. The boat 
can, therefore, be rid of the keel altogether 
should it become bent, or should it, for any 
other reason, be desirable to release it. 

The relieving tubes which are fitted now to 
all our life-boats are very simple in character. 
The valve permits superfluous water from the 
deck to pass downwards, but permits no water 
to return. It is simply a circular plate swinging 
on an axis which is to one side of the centre line. 
Pressure from below shuts it the more closely, but 
it will allow water to flow through from above. 

The two short masts are fitted in tabernacles, 
and can be lowered and raised as required. The 
rig is two lugsails fore and mizzen and a small 
jib. Two suits of sails, at least, are provided 
for moderate and heavy weather. They are 
of the finest and stoutest canvas, and are tanned 
brown. A boat under full sail is shown in 
Fig. 44. The Norfolk and Suffolk boats have 
three masts and lugsails as had their predecessors, 
the beachmen's " yawls." Festooned round the 
exterior of the gunwale is a life-line, the two 
centre loops of which are longer than the rest. 
These serve as stirrups, by means of which 
a man can climb into the boat. Any swimmer 
who has had to scramble aboard a small yacht 
or sailing-boat will appreciate the value of this 
simple device (see Fig. 16). 


The loose equipment of a life-boat is cut down 
to mere necessaries, but it is none the less com- 
plete, and every emergency is provided for. 
The most interesting items, from a historical 
point of view, are the life-belts and buoys. The 
cork life-belt is more venerable even than the 
life-boat itself. So long ago as 1757 a Colonel de 
Gelacy invented a " tunic or doublet for bearing 
up men on the Surface of the Water." The 
following account of it is from the History of 
the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris for the 
year 1757 : 

" This tunic is made of canvas, or strong 
linen cloth, furnished with several pieces of 
cork, wrapped up in the same cloth, and fastened 
thereto by pieces of tape, which have the effect 
of so many turning joints or hinges. Out of 
the water, the corks fall upon one another, much 
in the same order as tiles are placed, and, in 
the water, they float horizontally, and place 
themselves parallel to one another, This kind 
of tunic is tied under the arms with strings, and 
from before backwards by two strong girths 
that pass between the thighs. There are also 
two pieces of cork of four inches square at the 
part corresponding to the shoulders, which serve 
to recover the head more readily out of the 
water, after falling into it, and to keep it more 
erect above the surface. Several contrivances 


have already been imagined for bearing up men 
on the surface of the water without any danger, 
but this of M. de Gelacy has appeared to the 
Academy preferable to any hitherto known." 

This contrivance must have been really very 
like the cork-belt invented by Admiral Ross 
Ward, which is only just now being superseded. 
At any rate, it was eminently practical in design. 
Subsequent inventors seem to have vied with 
each other in the extravagance (I had almost 
said imbecility) of their suggestions. The 
National Encyclopaedia of 1849 describes a 
life-hat, the upper part of which was airtight 
and waterproof, so that its buoyancy would 
keep the " wearer " afloat. Whether it would 
keep the wearer alive is quite another matter ; 
if he really were wearing it, I should have my 
doubts. Anyway, if he felt himself at all dis- 
commoded, he could take it off and grasp it 
in his arms, increasing its buoyancy by inflating 
the lining. 

Macintosh invented a life-cape which would 
inflate and keep the wearer afloat, and Irvine's 
safety portmanteau was guaranteed to support 
two persons. Luggage of this description seems 
to have been popular, for in the Great Exhibition 
a waterproof trunk was exhibited, which the 
fortunate possessor could use as a raft. In 
addition, there was shown on this occasion a whole 


wardrobe of life-saving garments. There were 
yachting jackets and ladies' paletots, capable 
of supporting the wearer, as well as indiarubber 
cloaks to be blown full of air, and a cork-ribbed 
jacket invented by a Mr. Caulcher. There were 
belts, too, which could be inflated, and others 
made of lumps of cork threaded like beads. 

Some years later a Mr. Johnson invented a 
life-belt which foreshadowed the kapok belt 
of the modern life-boat man. It consisted of 
two waterproof cushions filled with any light 
substance and strapped round the wearer. 

Admiral J. Ross Ward invented his famous 
cork-belt in 1854. It is so familiar an object in 
illustration that it hardly needs description, and 
our picture (Fig. 39) gives an excellent idea of 
its appearance and construction. Strips of cork 
are fastened alongside one another to a founda- 
tion of strong canvas. The whole belt is shaped 
conveniently to the form and movements of a 
man's body, and is fastened securely by straps 
over the shoulders and round the waist. One 
of the duties of a coxswain is to see that all the 
men have their belts properly fastened before 
the boat is launched. After holding the field 
for fifty years, Admiral Ward's belt is now at 
last being superseded by a lighter and more 
comfortable and handy contrivance. It is made 
of canvas and filled with kapok. This substance 



is lighter and more efficient than cork in every 
way. As may be imagined, a belt filled with a 
cotton-like material is infinitely more comfort- 
able than those of the old pattern, and it hampers 
a man's movements to a considerably less degree. 
This belt is illustrated, too, in Fig. 39. It is 
intended now, after long and exhaustive trials, 
to substitute kapok for cork as a filling for the 
life-buoy which every boat carries. This is of the 
usual circular pattern that finds most favour 
with seamen the world over. 

In addition to life-belts, every member of the 
boat's crew is provided with guernsey and red 
stocking cap, and with oilskins and sou'wester. 
The oilskins of the St. David's crew were re- 
cently put to a use that was quite outside the 
scope of their maker's intentions. However, 
they served their strange purpose admirably. 
On the 12th of October 1910, during a strong 
north-easterly gale, the St. David's life-boat 
put out to the ketch Democrat of Barnstaple. 
After desperate efforts the boat succeeded in 
getting alongside the ketch, and three men of her 
crew were saved. The work of the life-boat, 
however, was only just begun. Her crew were 
unable to straighten her up against the wind, 
sea, and tide, and she was carried rapidly towards 
the rocks. Her coxswain endeavoured to save 
her by steering her through a narrow and danger- 


ous passage in the reef, but in the darkness his 
task was an impossible one. The life-boat struck 
a rock, and all her crew were thrown out, the 
boat herself becoming a total wreck. Fifteen 
men, including the three from the Democrat, 
succeeded in reaching an isolated rock, but John 
Stephen, the coxswain, and two others were 

Early on the following morning the survivors 
were still in their perilous and exposed position, 
and nothing was known ashore of their terrible 
predicament. At last they conceived the idea 
of making a bonfire of their oilskins, and suc- 
ceeded by this device in attracting the attention 
of some fishermen. Three men went to their 
assistance in a shore-boat, and, since the sea 
was too rough for them to reach the rocks, they 
stood by for no less than four hours, and at last 
succeeded in getting off ,five men and landing 
them on Ramsay Island. They then returned 
and took five more, while another shore-boat 
rescued the remainder. This second boat would 
probably have been swamped had not the 
Charterhouse, the new Fishguard motor life-boat, 
appeared providentially on the scene, having 
just learnt of what had happened. Sydney 
Mortimer, the courageous fisherman who had 
secured volunteers to help him to man the 
first boat, was afterwards unanimously elected as 


coxswain of the St. David's life-boat by the crew 
in whose rescue he had been instrumental. 

Very important items of the boat's equip- 
ment are the drogue and the heaving-cane and 
line. The former appliance is better known to 
sailors as a sea-anchor. In the form adopted 
by the Life-Boat Institution it is a stout canvas 
bag, conical in shape, and with the mouth 
distended by a wooden hoop some 18 to 24 
inches in diameter. The intention of it is 
that, when towed ahead, it will get a firm 
hold of the water and keep a vessel bow on to 
wind and sea. It acts as a brake, as it were, 
and by its aid a boat can ride easily and safely 
in the worst of weather. A drogue can be seen 
hanging over the side of the boat in Figs. 19 
and 40. The officials of the Institution quite 
rightly attach the utmost importance to its use 
when occasion demands. It is not easy, how- 
ever, to persuade our west-country fishermen 
of its efficacy. In the north and east it is known 
and understood ; in fact, the smaller fishing 
vessels of the Northumbrian and Yorkshire 
coasts invariably carry it as part of their equip- 
ment, and ride to it when at work. It is used, 
too, by the Norfolk beachmen. In other parts 
of the country it is outside the range of the men's 
experience, and, in consequence, they some- 
times delay to use it when its services are most 


needed. A drogue forms part of the equipment 
of a ship's life-boat, according to the regulations 
of the Board of Trade, and it is, undoubtedly, a 
contrivance which should be carried by every 
small vessel. 

The weighted cane and the line attached to it 
are the means adopted for getting into first 
communication with a wreck. An elliptical lump 
of lead, almost as large as the fist and weigh- 
ing two pounds, is fastened to the end of a 
springy cane some 24 inches in length. This 
is thrown by hand, and it is wonderful to what 
a distance it will travel when propelled by an 
experienced man. A light heaving-line is made 
fast to the cane, the slack of which is loosely 
but neatly coiled in a round bucket. The 
bowman of the boat takes a few fakes of the 
coil in his left hand and throws with his right. 
He seldom fails to reach his mark, and, if he 
does, he can try again without a moment's delay. 
By means of the light heaving-line the ship- 
wrecked crew are enabled to draw out a block 
through which is rove a stout rope. To the 
latter a life-buoy is attached, and the men are 
placed in it and drawn to the life-boat one by one. 
The whole method is simple in the extreme, and, 
on that account, it is well suited for the particular 
emergency. Anything more complicated would 
quickly foul and be put out of action. 


This contrivance was invented by Admiral 
Ross Ward. It was, in a way, foreshadowed 
by a throwing lead and hand-line that was 
devised in 1807 by a Mr. Trengrouse of Helston 
one of those men who were connected with the 
perfecting of the rocket apparatus. 

The rest of a life-boat's gear is such as would 
be found on any vessel used for a similar purpose. 
One large anchor is carried and a rope cable, 
and there is, in addition, a grapnel for making 
fast to a wrecked vessel. A compass is part of 
the equipment, and coloured hand-lights for 
signalling. The oars are painted blue for the 
one side of the boat and white for the other. 
Thus much confusion is no doubt avoided. 
Each is made fast to the gunwale by a lanyard, 
and, on occasion, they are all thrown overboard 
to tow alongside. It is far more convenient, 
when making sail in a hurry, to get rid of the 
oars in this way altogether, than to haul them 
aboard to foul the sheets and halliards. The 
rudder is provided with gear by means of which 
it can be hauled up or lowered at will, and 
the sailing and pulling boats are steered either 
with a yoke and rudder lines or with a tiller. 
On occasion, however, a long steering oar is 
used. Small skids, with rollers and a turn-table, 
are provided for the use of the station, as well 
as a powerful jack-screw in case of accident. 


The signalling apparatus provided consists 
of a gun for summoning the crew, sound-signals 
or rockets, hand-lights, port-fires and Very's 
pistol. Directly a boat is launched a green 
rocket is sent up to notify to the wreck that 
assistance is on its way, and two red rockets 
or two distress signals are fired, with the 
ordinary signal for assembling the crew. To 
recall the boat, white Very's pistol cartridges 
are fired, answered by a green light from some one 
aboard. A green hand-light notifies that the 
boat is coming ashore, and red hand-lights in 
quick succession call for more assistance. This 
last is answered by two red Very's pistol cart- 

A red flag by day takes the place both of the 
rockets at the time of assembly and of the signal 
for additional aid. The same flag dipped con- 
tinuously is the recall. The other signals ob- 
viously require no counterpart by daylight. 

White hand-lights are used by a coxswain, on 
approaching a wreck, in order to ascertain her 



IT cannot be denied that, once a life-boat is 
built, the most important matter of all is the 
launching of her. No wonder the words, 
"Launch the life-boat," have become a catch- 
phrase, although it is remarkably few people 
who have the slightest idea how it is done. 

A life-boat being essentially a shore-boat, 
the first requirement on a station is the means 
of putting her in the water, and that under 
the worst possible conditions of wind and 

If we were to travel all around our coasts, 
and visit in turn the Institution's two hundred 
and eighty-odd stations, we should find very 
few where the boat can be kept afloat. It is 
in the very nature of things that the place 
where a vessel can lie to moorings in all weathers 
is not the most likely place for wrecks ; and 
although such peaceful quarters are the ideal 
ones for ensuring a speedy and safe service, 
they are decidedly few and far between. As 



a rule the boat must be launched from a rocky 
or shingly beach, from a more or less shifty 
stretch of wet sand, or from a specially con- 
structed slip-way. 

One of the simplest ways of launching is 
from greased skids laid permanently from the 
boathouse to the water's edge. The most usual 
method, however, is to convey the boat to a 
convenient place upon her carriage, and to put 
her in the water as speedily and skilfully as 
may be (Fig. 40). 

We have already described the carriage in 
detail in our last chapter. The boat lies thereon, 
so that its weight is directly over the main 
axle, being held in position by a chain which 
passes through the keel astern. It is so placed, 
of course, that its stern is towards the shafts. 
On arrival at the place of launching, the vehicle 
is backed into the water as far as possible, and 
two ropes, one on either side, are attached to 
the stern-post, low down, by large thimbles 
fitting over rigid hooks. These ropes are rove 
through sheaves on the after -end of the slip -way, 
beneath the boat's bow, and carried ashore. 
The securing chain having been cast loose, it 
is evident that the boat can be propelled sea- 
ward with considerable momentum. A launch- 
ing stopper is rove, which is held by the cox- 
swain, and let go as the order to launch is given. 




, IVatcket. 

| /'/,/<,, /,V,-/ Hole, U'atchct. 



There is generally a crowd of willing helpers 
only too ready to lend their weight on the 
falls, or, of course, horses can be used if there 
is decent foothold. 

This manoeuvre is carried out with the full 
crew aboard, who are ready to heave on their 
oars as the boat takes the water. With a very 
heavy sea running and breaking on to an open 
beach, there are frequent failures. In fact, 
there is no moment in the whole service which 
is more fraught with danger to the men than 
when the boat runs clear and meets the first 
tremendous seas. She may be simply driven 
back on to the beach, to be remounted on her 
carriage and launched again, or she may be 
rolled over, broadside on, before she is in water 
deep enough to permit of her righting herself. 
Since the fore-body of the carriage is detachable, 
the whole can be reversed and the slip canted 
the other way. The boat can, therefore, be 
replaced with a minimum of labour, and is 
ready for service again with but little delay. 

The fact of the boat being balanced on the 
central wheels is of great assistance in handling 
and turning ; no small consideration this, in 
view of the extraordinarily tight places which 
have to be negotiated. 

Our illustration of a life-boat being conveyed 
through a narrow country lane is no fancy one. 


Certainly the photograph was taken on the 
occasion of a practice launch, but it is no very 
unusual thing for a boat to be transported for a 
considerable distance before launching, although 
the surroundings may not often be so truly rural. 
In January 1899 the Lynmouth life-boat 
was taken fourteen miles by road to be launched 
to the wreck of the Forrest Hall. This vessel, a 
large four-masted barque, was in difficulties off 
Gore Point, near Porlock. The wind was west- 
north-west and blowing with hurricane force, so 
it was seen at once that a launch at Lynmouth 
was out of the question. There was a terrible 
sea running on to a beach which is dangerous 
at the best of times. Between Lynmouth and 
Porlock, on the main road, there is a hill that 
is notorious all over England. It is almost a 
mountain, for it rises to a height of 1500 feet 
above sea-level. This hill had to be negotiated, 
and that under circumstances that would have 
given pause to any ordinary land conveyance. 
On the top of Countisbury it was almost im- 
possible to stand against the force of the gale. 
To add to the difficulties, the road was in places 
too narrow to admit of the carriage passing. 
The boat had to be dismounted more than 
once and heaved forward on rollers, while the 
carriage was taken by a detour over fields and 
moorland. In spite of these harassing con- 



ditions, the feat was accomplished in ten and 
a half hours. Porlock was reached at 6 a.m. 
There the beat was successfully launched and 
did her work. She was driven, however, to 
Barry, upon the Welsh coast of the Bristol 
Channel, before her crew could rest. 

These are the difficulties which sometimes 
beset a life-boat launch, and it can be readily 
understood that the crews must be prepared 
and trained for the most peculiar emergencies. 
Their work is not entirely done at sea, and 
those engaged in it must be longshoremen in 
the truest sense of the word. 

A remarkable instance of somewhat the same 
description occurred at Dunbar in December 
1904. The boat was called to the assistance 
of a vessel called the Bams, of Christiansund, 
that was in distress in the neighbourhood of St. 
Abb's Head. Immediately the crew were sum- 
moned, and, horses not being at once obtainable, 
some eighty men set out to drag the boat by road' 
to Skateraw, a place six miles distant, from 
which it seemed most advisable to launch her. 
When they had completed half the distance they 
came upon eight horses ploughing. These were 
immediately offered by their owner, and the 
remainder of the journey was covered without 
clilliculty. While the boat was in process of 
launching she took the ground and jammed with 



her stern still in the carriage. In spite of a heavy 
storm of sleet and snow the men entered the 
water to their waists, and succeeded, after a 
quarter of an hour's work, in lifting the boat 
clear. Even then the rescue was a difficult one, 
for a very heavy sea was running. The boat 
did not reach Dunbar harbour, on her return 
thither with the rescued crew, until seven hours 
had elapsed since she first got away. 

In December 1891 there was a similar occur- 
rence at Brighton. Horses could not be obtained, 
and a huge crowd of people started to drag the 
boat to Portslade, some miles to the westward. 
They hauled her a mile and a half, and then 
commandeered two horses from a cart to complete 
the journey. Unfortunately, in this instance, 
she was too late, and three men of the schooner 
John and Robert were drowned. I lived at that 
time at Brighton and I shall always remember 
this incident, as it was my first introduction to 
life-boat work in any form. 

The photograph (Fig. 22) of a life-boat 
being launched over a quay wall illustrates very 
vividly the capabilities of both boat and carriage. 
A launch with an 8-foot drop, however, is not 
a manoeuvre that is taken into the Institu- 
tion's calculations. It can be done, as is abun- 
dantly clear, and it no doubt might have to be 
done ; but on the occasion illustrated it was 

[Photo, Fred. Kitto &> Son, Fou<ey. 


[l/tnlo, Gibson 6f Sons, Penzana. 

43. i HI; \\ki.< K >i mi. SVSAX ELIZABETJI AT ST. IVES, 


r . , e. 

= < < . 




carried out for demonstration purposes. The 
way in which she has cleared the wall and taken 
the water is an object-lesson in the suitability 
of both boat and gear for use in the extremest 
of cases. 

At those ports where a deep-water slip-way 
is provided there is nothing to do but tumble the 
crew aboard, open the doors, let slip the hook, 
and away she goes. The keel is so wide and the 
balance of the boat so true that she stands 
upright on the rollers and runs upright over them 
when freed. She flies down on an even keel, 
and takes the water at such a speed that she is 
through the resulting wave before it has time 
to break aboard. There is no shock and no fuss. 
She seems to give one upward and forward 
plunge, and then the oars have her under full 
control. She can even be launched with her 
masts stepped and sails set; but, if this is done, she 
must, of course, be lowered on the cable until she 
is outside the boathouse doors (see Fig. 42). 

The one drawback to these long launching- 
slips is the labour entailed in replacing the boat 
after service. She must be hauled up the ways 
by a winch and wire cable, and, as may be 
imagined, the job is a long and arduous one. 
Sometimes she has to be beached and replaced 
in the house by her carriage and horses, as in 
Fig. 30. 


Some of the difficulties which have to be 
encountered in launching the boat, and the 
emergencies for which the men have to be pre- 
pared, cannot be better exemplified than in the 
exploit of the St. Ives life-boat, the James Stevens, 
on 16th October 1907. In order to realise the 
situation thoroughly one must be acquainted 
with St. Ives and the coast in its immediate 
neighbourhood. The harbour is enclosed by 
two piers, and is additionally sheltered by a 
breakwater ; but in spite of this there is a tre- 
mendous ground-swell in bad weather, which 
makes the place impossible of approach, especi- 
ally to strangers. On the day in question it was 
blowing almost a hurricane from the north-north- 
east. Tremendous seas swept across the mouth 
of the harbour, and for a vessel of any size to 
enter would have been totally impossible. In 
spite of this fact, however, a telegram was sent 
from Swansea during the morning to say that a 
schooner, the Susan Elizabeth, had sailed for 
St. Ives. 

All through the day the men were at their 
stations, and at nine o'clock in the evening it 
was decided to launch the boat and to keep her 
afloat in the harbour, so that she might sally 
forth so soon as news was received of the 
schooner's approach. Still there were no tidings 
of her, and for eight hours the men stayed on 



duty, ready to man the boat at a moment's 
notice. At about five o'clock, since nothing had 
been heard or seen of the expected vessel, the 
life -boat was replaced on her carriage, one hour 
being occupied in this arduous task. No sooner 
was she all ready to be returned to the boathouse 
than the Susan Elizabeth was sighted, running 
straight for the harbour, and in the most imminent 
peril. Of course, there was not a moment's 
hesitation ; the life-boat was launched at once 
for the second time, and set out on her work of 
rescue. Immediately after, the schooner struck 
and was at the mercy of the tremendous breakers. 
The life-boat had not only the wind and the sea 
to contend with ; a strong tide was running, and 
times she was carried to leeward, and five 
times the crew pulled her back and tried to 
bring her alongside the wrecked vessel. 

Then at last she was swept bodily away and 
t In-own up, high and dry, on Porthminster beach, 
which is one of those little sandy bays that lie 
In t ween St. Ives and Hayle. Even at that 
distance from a town there was no lack of 
willing help; the boat was got ready for re- 

;ching from the open beach, and, after many 
a hopeless effort, she was at last afloat again, 
and making for the schooner for the sixth 
attempt. This time she was successful. The 
huge seas were sweeping clear over the doomed 


vessel, but the life-boat managed to reach her, 
and the four men who formed her crew were 
taken off and landed in the harbour. So, after 
four-and-twenty hours of strain and anxiety, 
and twelve hours of strenuous work, the men 
of the St. Ives crew accomplished their task. 
Before three hours more were past the Susan 
Elizabeth had been overwhelmed. 

At some stations where the launch is effected 
from an open beach, it is in a measure assisted 
by the provision of a haul-off warp, a rope 
attached to an anchor or mooring at some 
distance from the shore. It is used to drag the 
boat through the almost resistless energy of the 
first breakers, as in Illustration No. 35. In 
cases where this rope has failed them the men 
have been in no way discouraged, but have 
summoned fresh relays of helpers, and launched 
the boat in spite of the fearful handicap. 

At Tenby the boat was at one time launched 
from the beach at a point a little to the westward 
of St. Catherine's Rock, at the actual place, in 
fact, where the wave was photographed that is 
shown in Fig. 2. A warp was used, but on this 
occasion it fouled the carriage, and to prevent 
the boat going on to the rocks it had to be cut. 
As a result she was thrown back on to the beach 
broadside on. The night was pitch dark and 
there was a mountain of surf running, but with 



the aid of a large number of helpers she was 
eventually launched. The men got their backs 
against the boat, practically lifting her, and by 
sheer weight of numbers pushed her clear. When 
one considers that a boat like this would weigh 
some four or five tons, one can imagine the 
awful anxiety of every one during those few 

Conditions at Tenby now are very different. 
One of the finest slip-ways in England has been 
provided, and, as the boat slides easily and safely 
into deep water, the men must think sometimes 
of those former days, and wonder how, buffeted 
and exhausted by the launch alone, they ever 
continued to struggle through the perils and 
hardships that were yet to come. 

Mumbles is a good example of a port where 
the life-boat can be kept afloat ; but here a second 
small boat has to be provided on the beach, 
by means of which the crew may, on occasion, 
reach the larger vessel. The service boat is one 
of the largest in the country. She is a 43-foot 
Watson, pulling ten oars, but relying principally, 
of course, on sail. She lies at moorings off the 
pier, with her masts standing, and is entirely 
covered \\ith a huge tarpaulin which can be 
instantly freed by one cut at the lashings which 
hold it in its place. In approaching a wreck, 
everything must, of course, be left to the judgment 


of the coxswain, according to the circumstances 
and to her position. Where practicable a life- 
boat comes alongside to leeward, in order to 
make a breakwater of the vessel's hull, and 
because on that side of her there is less danger 
of violent collision with the wreck. The re- 
bound of a sea, too, from a vessel's side to wind- 
ward is very liable to cause accidents. Some- 
times, however, the masts threaten to fall, or, 
having already fallen, they float alongside in 
a mass of wreckage. Under such circumstances 
it is necessary to approach to windward, or, on 
occasion, to take off the crew over the stem or 

The larger life-boats, such as the Norfolk 
and Suffolk, usually approach on the weather 
side and drop their anchor. They then veer 
away 100 or 150 fathoms of cable until they are 
near enough to heave a line aboard. Some- 
times it is impossible, even in this way, to get 
near enough, and the wrecked crew must jump 
overboard, to be picked up by the life-boat as 
best they can be. Communication is effected 
by means of the heaving-cane and line which 
have already been described. It is really a 
rocket apparatus in its simplest form, and is 
far better suited for this particular purpose 
than anything more elaborate. It is impossible, 
of course, under the circumstances, to keep a 


line taut between the life-boat and the wreck ; 
in fact, even the ropes by which they are, on 
occasion, made fast together must be kept slack 
or held in hand. On this account the trans- 
shipment of the shipwrecked crew is far from 
being a comfortable one, for the men must be 
drawn actually through the water. 

Sometimes the life-boat manages to manoeuvre 
sufficiently near for the men to jump from one 
vessel to the other. This happened in the 
service to the Young John, a Montrose ketch 
which was lost on the Long Scar Rocks, Hartle- 
pool, on 6th July 1903. On coming up to the 
wreck the life-boat used the drogue, and thus 
keeping head to the sea she slowly dropped down 
towards her. She made two attempts, and at 
last succeeded in getting alongside and making 
fast with her grapnels. A child was then thrown 
aboard from hand to hand, and the crew of the 
ketch jumped quickly after. The grapnel line 
instantly severed, and the boat pulled clear. 
This splendid piece of work was watched from 
the cliffs by thousands of people, and was 
pronounced to have been the finest service 
!> rformed in the bay for many years. 

In order to make it possible for a wrecked 
\v to jump aboard in a heavy sea the most 
consummate skill and judgment is necessary 
on the part of the coxswain. In September 


1903 the Looe life-boat, having already effected 
the rescue of two men from the smack William 
of Par, put out for a second time to the lugger 
Anemone of Looe, which was drifting on to a 
lee shore. She had lost her sails and spars, and 
was hopelessly unmanageable. The life-boat 
reached her, and so manoeuvred alongside the 
wildly plunging vessel that two of her men 
could jump aboard. She then repeated this 
triumph of seamanship, and enabled the other 
two to jump in their turn. The life-boat was 
entirely uninjured, although at times she was 
absolutely up-ended by the sea. 

If there is one thing more than another that 
proves the true courage of our life-boat men, it 
is these repeated efforts which so often have to 
be made. There is many a man who can do a 
brave deed in hot blood, and almost without 
realising what the danger means. In fact, often 
enough the vaunted hero never knows his peril 
at all. He has no time to think, and performs 
some never-to-be-forgotten deed serenely un- 
conscious of his valour. A life-boat man not 
only knows exactly what he has to go through, 
but he, better than any one else, can realise the 
difficulty and the danger. And knowing it 
he fears it for the man of true courage is not 
the man without fear, but he who acts in spite 
of well-grounded alarm. What then must be 



the measure of those men's valour, who risk 
their lives time after time, not at long intervals, 
but in the course of a few hours only ? 

On the last day of January 1907 the 
3000-ton steamship Clavering went ashore 
near Middlesborough and was swept by a 
tremendous sea. The Seaton Carew life-boat 
was launched, and after two attempts she 
reached the steamer. There was a large crew, 
consisting mostly of Lascars, and of these 
fifteen were taken aboard and landed. The 
life-boat at once started back, but the tide was 
now flowing strongly and their efforts were 
frustrated. This was at midday. At two 
the news reached Hartlepool, and a second 
life-boat was dispatched by road to Seaton 
Carew, a journey which occupied more than 
three hours. Between nine and ten o'clock, 
on the ebb tide, both boats started together 
for the Clavering. For three hours they struggled 
in vain to reach her, but, although shouts were 
heard aboard and desperate efforts made, it 
was all in vain ; at 2 a.m. both life-boats were 
obliged to return to their moorings. But that 
was not all. At eight o'clock they were under 
way again, and this time they were successful. 
Twenty-four men still survived, and these were 
all rescued. The Seaton Carew boat was back 
at her station at 1 p.m., thirty hours after the 


first call, and the Hartlepool boat returned 
later by the road she came. 

Instances could be multiplied. The men go 
to their duty and return to it again and again, 
believing all the time, ay, and sometimes 
believing rightly, that they can never return. 
I remember a coxswain saying to me once in 
describing a service : 

" Twice on that day I was certain that 
nothing could save us." And yet he went on 
with his work as a matter of course, and the 
hardest day of his life will be when he hands 
over the steering oar to a younger man. 

Frequently when a steam tug is available 
its services are requisitioned to tow the life- 
boat to the near neighbourhood of a wrecked 
vessel. At Ramsgate the tug-boat Aid is 
always ready to perform this service, and at 
Padstow the Institution provides a very power- 
ful steamer of its own, the Helen Peele, which 
works either by itself or in conjunction with 
the sailing life-boat. 

The well-remembered wreck of the American 
liner Paris affords a good illustration of how 
tug and life-boat can act in unison. The Paris 
went ashore on the Lowland Point inside the 
Manacles on 21st May 1899. The weather was 
thick and misty and the sea smooth. The 
Falmouth life-boat immediately put to sea in 

[Photo, Gibson & Sons, Penzance.\ \ 

The Penzance Life- Boat setting out to a wreck. 

t &* Sons, Penzance. 

IK.. 45. UK!.' K OF TIII-. AMERICAN I.INKR /:IK/S ON THE i.owi \M> 

POINT, M \K I 111-. M \\ACI. I->, M\V 2IST. 1899. 



'o\v of the tug Resolute. The Porthoustock life- 
boat was also launched, and soon after the 
ig Dragon appeared on the scene. There 
were three hundred and eighty-six passengers 
on the Paris, and these were taken off by the 
life-boats and placed aboard the tugs. Ulti- 
mately the whole of them were landed at 

'almouth in safety and comparative comfort. 



THE career of the life-boat in America is of 
peculiar interest, since the conditions which 
have governed it are different in every way 
from those which obtain in the old country. 
Here our coasts are rugged indeed, and the 
frequent danger-points are a continual menace 
to a vast flotilla of shipping ; but in our little 
island distances are comparatively small, and, 
at the same time, the longshore population is 
numerous. The United States, however, has 
the wardenship of near ten thousand miles 
of coast, desolate for the most part, and differing 
widely from point to point in the nature of 
its needs. There are long stretches where 
wrecks are seldom known and where the coast- 
wise traffic is but scanty. On the other hand, 
there are certain portions where disasters are 
frequent, such as the shores of Massachusetts, 
Long Island, New Jersey, and North Carolina. 
And in many places, where assistance is most 
often and most badly needed, there is no one 





at all to lend a hand. Just where there are 
the most ships and the worst perils, the country 
is the most desolate. 

It has been this entire lack of a coastwise 
population at the most dangerous points that 
has led to the development of the American 
Life-Saving Service on lines so widely different 
from ours. You cannot man a boat with 
volunteers, if there is no one on the spot to offer 
his services ; and you must pick your stations 
according to the needs alone of those you rescue. 
The advance of this sister service has been one 
with ours in point of time, but in direction it has 

i verged at the widest of angles. 
In the same year that the first life-boat station 
established at Bamborough, the Humane 
Society of Massachusetts came into existence, 
ree years later, in 1789, it turned its attention 
the saving of life at sea, just at the same time 
as the Gentlemen of the Lawe House made 
r first concerted effort at South Shields. 
But even in those earliest of days the American 
Society had to adopt a method of its own. 
coasts were wild and lonely, and disasters 
cquent. The lew who survived ship- 
wreck by their own efforts perished often of cold 
and exposure. It was impossible as yet to find 
a means of helping these poor wretches to reach 
e shore, but something could be done to 


relieve them if they saved themselves. The 
Massachusetts Humane Society, therefore, set 
out by establishing shelter huts at different 
points. They were rude in construction, but 
none the less efficient for their intended purpose. 
These methods were followed for nearly twenty 
years, and it was not until 1807 that the first 
life-boat was built and stationed at Cohasset. 
The association had but small funds at its 
command, and, by necessity if not by choice, 
the vessel was manned in an emergency by a 
crew of volunteers. 

During the next few years other boats were 
added ; but, as in England during the same 
period, the cause languished. Here we had the 
revival in 1824 when the Institution was founded; 
in America the only advance was the authorisa- 
tion in 1837 of a few public vessels, revenue 
cutters and such, to cruise near the coast for 
the purpose of sending assistance to vessels in 

In 1847 a small appropriation of 5000 dollars 
was made by Congress to furnish certain light- 
houses on the Atlantic coast with facilities for 
giving aid to shipwrecked mariners. How- 
ever, this money was never put to its in- 
tended purpose by the State Department, and 
later it was granted to the Massachusetts 


In 1848, just before the great revival of 
the life -boat cause in England, the United 
States Government awoke to its responsibilities. 
Under the peculiar circumstances private effort 
was plainly inadequate, and, while encourag- 
ing its promoters, the State started to do 
something on its own account. The first step 
was to build boat-houses on the coast of New 
Jersey and to furnish them with fishermen's surf- 
boats and the wreck gun and life-car. For this 
purpose 10,000 dollars was voted by Congress, 
and stations were established from Sandy Hook 
to Little Egg Harbour. In the following year 
the service was extended to Long Island ; and, 
on both stretches of coast, boat-houses were 
erected and supplied with appliances. They 
were destined, however, to be manned by 
volunteer crews ; and this system, unworkable 
under the circumstances, continued for many 
years to come. 

The Massachusetts Humane Society was not 
forgotten. It received appropriations from 
Congress from time to time. It still flourishes, 
and has now sixty-nine stations under its control 
on the Massachusetts coast. 

Although the boat-houses, for a while, re- 
ceived some degree of supervision, and pro- 
vided the beachnun with the means of 
doinc: <>(>(1 work in rescue, they soon were 


allowed to suffer from neglect. Then, just as in 
England, public feeling received a violent and 
wholesome shock, and attention was turned 
perforce to the sufferings of the shipwrecked 
sailor. During the year 1854 there were no less 
than three hundred lives lost off the New Jersey 
coast, and it dawned upon the authorities that 
the established service was of little value. In 
some cases, even, the surf-boats had been stolen. 
Congress took the matter in hand, and paid 
keepers were appointed for the various stations. 
That was the only step taken for the time being, 
and it was not until sixteen years later that the 
Treasury first authorised the payment of crews. 
Even then they were only employed during three 
winter months, and were merely allotted to 
alternative stations. 

This was the state of affairs in 1871, and in 
that year the man arose who was to turn the 
half-hearted, ill-found system into one of the 
finest life-saving services in the world. It was 
Mr. Sumner I. Kimball, the chief of the Revenue 
Cutter Bureau, who took the matter in hand. 
This department, called otherwise the Revenue 
Marine, had in its charge the existing Govern- 
ment stations. It had been founded originally 
in 1790 to form a fleet for the better security 
of the revenue against contraband, but it seems 
to have undertaken various other duties in course 


time. The first necessity was a proper 
inspection of the whole service, and this was 
undertaken by a Captain John Faunce. He dis- 
covered a really pitiable state of affairs, a fair 
parallel in fact to the condition of the English 
service twenty-two years earlier. The buildings 
were found to be in a state of disrepair, the 
crews were quarrelsome, the keepers old and 
incapable, and in many instances living at a long 
distance from their charge. 

Mr. Kimball took the matter most thoroughly 
in hand without delay. He demanded and 
secured an appropriation of 20,000 dollars, and 
set out to reform the entire system. Crews were 
deemed necessary for many stations, and were 
at once appointed, new boats and equipments 
were furnished, and stations were rebuilt and ad- 
ditional stations established. Incapable keepers 

rere discharged and new men appointed, and 
most efficient patrol system was organised. 

>uring that year, 1871, the loss of life on the 
s reduced, within the scope of the 

Tvice's operations, to none at all ; and in 1872 
there was only one man drowned; and this 
although Cape Cod had been taken under the 
charge of the department, one of the most 
dangerous spots on the American coast. 

In the following year a commission was 
appointed, consisting of Mr. Kimball and two 


others, to inspect and report upon the whole of 
the ocean and lake coasts and the possibilities 
for extension of the service. This commission 
reported to Congress in 1874, and on June 20th 
a Bill was passed providing for a large extension, 
and authorising the presentation of life-saving 

However, up till 1877 the appropriations 
allowed by Congress were inadequate, and the 
means at the department's disposal did not 
admit of the stations being opened for service 
until 1st December of each year. The result of 
this economy was immediate and serious. On 
24th November 1877, the steamship Huron was 
driven ashore at Nag's Head in North Carolina. 
No fewer than ninety -eight perished. Only 
three months later there was another terrible 
disaster, when the Metropolis was stranded on 
Currituck Beach. Twelve miles separated the 
nearest life-saving stations, and, although the 
line-throwing apparatus enabled the surfmen to 
rescue one hundred persons, there were eighty- 
five who lost their lives. These lessons were 
taken to heart, and immediately it was decided 
to erect thirteen additional stations between 
Cape Henry and Hatteras Inlet. Unfortunately 
their building was delayed, and serious damage 
was done to the existing stations by the appalling 
hurricane of October 1878. 


/.'* of the General Superintendent of the United States 
Life-Swift* Sf>~>icf. 


Ry fierniissivn of the General Superintendent of the United States 
Life-Saving Ser: 


At the same time as this practical advance- 
ment, a Bill was passed reorganising the control 
and management. The Life-Saving Service was 
separated from the Revenue Cutter Bureau, 
and was made into a department on its own 
account. Mr. Kimball was appointed General 
Superintendent, which office he still holds, 
and provision was made for a detail of Revenue 
Marine officers for various duties under him. 
This co-operation of the elder service has un- 
doubtedly done much to enhance the value of 
the work done by the younger department, for 
its vessels on an average cruise some 15,000 
miles annually assisting in life-saving service. 

The work of the Life-Saving Department is 
now controlled by the General Superintendent, 
and an Assistant General Superintendent, a 
Chief Inspector of Stations, and four of Con- 
struction. Then there is a superintendent for 

li district and an assistant inspector from 
the Revenue Cutter Service, and at head- 
quarters an advisory board of experts. The 
whole coast is divided into thirteen districts, 
nine on the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, 
three on the Great Lakes, and one on the 
Pacific. To the first of these are allotted two 
hundred and one stations, with sixty-one to the 
Lakes, and nineteen on the Pacific, making a 
total of two hundred and eighty-one in all, 


almost exactly the same number as we have at 

The nine Gulf stations are merely houses 
of refuge, in charge each of a single keeper. 
The stations are divided into three classes, 
designated " Life-Saving," " Life-Boat," and 
" Houses of Refuge." The first-named are 
two-storey buildings, equipped with boat and 
life-saving gear, including the Lyle wreck gun, 
which we shall describe fully in a later chapter. 
It is a bronze cannon with a range of 695 
yards, and firing a 17-lb. projectile. The life- 
boat stations are smaller, and are generally 
built on piles close to the water's edge. The 
houses of refuge will accommodate twenty-five 
persons. They have a boathouse attached, and 
are provisioned for ten days. At some points, 
in addition to the Lyle wreck gun, the Hunt 
gun or the Cunningham rocket are established 
on account of their greater range. 

The crew of each station consists of a keeper, 
who is in receipt of about 200 annually, and 
six or eight surfmen, who are paid at the rate of 
13 per month for the annual period of service, 
and 12s. per day for service at other times. 
Volunteer assistants are also rewarded. On 
the Atlantic and Gulf stations this period of 
service is from 1st August to 31st May ; on the 
Lakes during the period of navigation, 1st April 



until early in December ; and on nineteen 
stations, Louisville and those on the Pacific, 
the service is continuous. Additional men are 
provided on the Atlantic and Gulf stations from 
November to May. From these figures it is 
plain that the salaries alone on a station amount 
to over 1000 per annum. 

The duties of the keeper include drilling the 
surfmen, managing and controlling the whole 
work of the station, protecting all property 
that comes ashore, and even assisting in the 
revention of smuggling. The men have to 
keep watches, on the look-out tower by day 
d by patrolling the beach at night. Each 
trolman meets a man from the next station 
on his beat, and exchanges a metal check. On 
observing a vessel in distress he burns a red 
Coston signal, for the double purpose of warning 
the station and of conveying to the wreck the 
ri'ul tidings that it is seen and that rescue 
t hand. The patrol is also carried out by 
day in bad weather or in fog. 

As to the boats, they are, on the ocean coast 
at least, rnfirely different from our own. Those 
; in favour are the Beebe-McLellan self- 
bailing boats, which have been evolved from 
the linrhl sin -I'-hoat much as our own self-righter 
from a heavier vessel. The Heebe-McLellan is 
from 25 to 27 feet in length ; the medium size, 


25 feet long, has a beam of 7 feet, and carries 
from twelve to fifteen persons in addition to her 
crew of seven. These boats are built of cedar 
with white-oak frame, and have end air-cases 
and side air-cases beneath the thwarts. How- 
ever, they do not right of themselves, but, like 
Lukin's boat of old, are insubmersible. If one 
capsizes, the crew can right it again at once ; 
in fact, they are drilled in this exercise, and can 
perform the whole operation in twenty seconds. 
The self -bailing principle is arrived at by 
means of relieving tubes, just as in our own 
English life-boats. They have no keel, and, 
like the true surf-boat, are round and high in 
the ends. They are rigged with one mast, and 
with jib and spritsail, and are steered with a 
long oar. 

The whole boat weighs about 10 cwt. 
She is launched off a special carriage very 
much like ours, and with four wide -tyred 
wheels. The men run her right into the surf, 
and slide her off the tilted carriage as they 
grasp her sides. The keeper and bowman are 
in their places, and the rest of the crew jump 
aboard at the right moment. In fact, what 
with this method of launching and the frequent 
capsizing and righting, the service is an amphibi- 
ous one. Many of these surf-boats are fitted 
with a very light 8 h.p. gasolene engine. 



In view of the flatness of the coast, especially 
on the Gulf and on the Atlantic side, it is plain 
that the employment of a heavy English self- 
righter would be out of the question. Their 
ability, however, is fully recognised, and they 
are in general use on the Great Lakes and at 
any points where they can be launched from 
a slip-way. They are in every way similar to 
our own, but they have now in all instances 
been transformed into pow r er boats by the 
installation of a motor inside the after end-box. 
The engine used is a 4-cycle gasolene motor 
of about 30 h.p., and weighing 800 Ib. It will 
drive a boat at from seven to nine miles per 
hour. The adoption of motor power in the 
United States life-saving fleet has proved an 
immense success. Twenty-four new power boats 
were provided in 1909, and five engines installed 
in old vessels. No fewer than thirty more 
were ordered. A new specially constructed 
power boat is also in use, 36 feet long, and 
equipped with a 35 to 40 h.p. engine. 

Two stations of peculiar interest are those 
at Dorchester in Boston Bay, and Louisville, 
Kentucky, on the falls of the Ohio River. 
They are both established afloat, the former being 
intended especially to serve yachts sailing in 
the bay. They are equipped with boats suited 
to the particular work and conditions. 


An interesting adjunct to the United States 
Service is the collection of models of every 
kind of life-saving appliance that is open for 
public inspection at the Treasury at Washington. 

Stories of the prowess of the American 
surfmen could be multiplied to any extent. 
They are sad stories too, some of them, for the 
crews stick at nothing, and one cannot run such 
risks for ever scathless. In 1880 a vessel was 
sighted in distress off Point aux Barques, Lake 
Huron. The surf -boat was launched, and started 
to cover the three miles that separated the 
wreck from the shore. She capsized time after 
time, and always the men righted her and held 
their course. At last, however, the icy cold of 
the water was too much for them ; she capsized 
for the last time, and the men hung on to her, 
helpless and frozen. One by one they dropped 
off and perished, and the keeper alone was 
washed ashore alive. This was a noted crew, 
that on former occasions had effected fine 

The wreck of the Nuova Ottavia on the North 
Carolina coast in 1876 was attended with a sad 
disaster. The Italian sailors were panic-stricken, 
and no sooner was the surf-boat alongside 
than they leapt aboard. It was too much for 
the light vessel ; she capsized, and all were 


The story of the barges Wadena and John 
C. Fitzpatrick on the Massachusetts coast is 
worth the telling. In March 1902 these vessels 
were wrecked on Shovelful Shoal, and a wreck 
crew arrived from Boston to salve them. A 
heavy blow came on, and the Monomoy Point 
surf-boat was launched in response to signals 
of distress from the Wadena. She was rowed 
for 2i miles, and at last came alongside. As 
in the case of the Nuova Ottavia, the rescued 
men were terrified and unused to so light a 
vessel. A lot of water was shipped in the 

vy sea, and at last the boat capsized, her 
crew being hampered by the frightened men. 
It was terribly cold, and one by one they suc- 
cumbed, twelve men in all being drowned. 
One single survivor was seen by the captain of 
the wrecking crew on the other barge. This 
man, Captain E. F. Mayo, put out to the rescue 
alone in a tiny dinghy, and saved the other by 
the most consummate skill and endurance. He 
was rewarded with the gold medal of the Life- 
Saving Service. 

The periodical hurricanes on the Gulf coast 
are a source of extreme peril, and their occur- 
n-nce causes extensive damage to the stations 
and plant. One such occurred in 1900, when 
I lie Galveston station was destroyed, another in 
September 1906, and that of 21st July 1909 is 


still a vivid memory. On that night two men 
of the Velasco station launched the surf-boat 
and loaded it with women and children to the 
number of thirty-one, besides one aged man. 
They anchored her clear of all obstruction 
and remained for five hours exposed to the 
fury of the wind, rain, and sea. Had they 
remained ashore, all might have perished by 
the floods and by the wreckage of their dwell- 
ings. At the San Luis station one surfman 
and six fishermen took refuge in the boat, as 
the station itself was threatened with destruction. 
The remaining surfmen were away on rescue 
work. The boat was torn from its moorings 
and swept clear across the island, but was 
eventually saved. The boathouse was practically 

If any further certificate were needed to 
the efficiency of the United States Service, it 
can be found in the fact that during the thirty- 
six years following its inauguration only one 
per cent, of the lives imperilled has been lost. 
It is a marvellous record when we consider 
the fact that over 121,000 was the number 
of those shipwrecked on the coasts which 
came within the scope of the Service's opera- 

Besides the saving of life from shipwreck, 
the surfmen undertake innumerable kindred 


duties, such as aid to the sick and wounded, and 
even assistance in case of fire. 

An association of American women called 
the Blue Anchor Society was founded in 1880 
to provide necessaries for rescue and relief work 
under the auspices of the State Service. 




THE history of marine life-saving work in 
Germany is brief but crowded ; crowded, not 
with incident, but with every evidence of sound 
endeavour and speedy advancement. In fifty 
years it has grown out of nothing at all to a 
model of well-ordered efficiency. Germany was 
somewhat behindhand in making its first efforts 
towards assisting the shipwrecked. It was not 
until after the middle of the last century that 
it awoke to any responsibility in the matter at 

The English Exhibition of 1851 and the 
success of the Duke of Northumberland's com- 
petition were the first causes of German interest. 
That huge advertisement of England's enterprise 
aroused the emulation of the Prussian people, 
and the press began to agitate for something 
to be done to relieve the distress of shipwrecked 

mariners. The movement found its first friend 



in the Prussian Government. It made a begin- 
ning, and the beginning was a good one. 

The first step was to establish life-saving 
stations on the Baltic coast, and to equip 
them with suitable apparatus. Twenty points 
were chosen between Memel and Damgarten, 
and at these were provided Manby's English 
mortar gun, Peake's life-boat, the American 
patent surf-boat of Joseph Francis, or, in some 
cases, vessels built according to the wishes 
and requirements of the local population. At 
some points were placed both life-boat and 
mortar, and at others either a boat alone or a 
mortar alone. The working of these stations 
was undertaken by the pilots of the district. 

For nearly ten years there was no further 
advance, in spite of the fact that the coast 
of Prussia was but a small fraction of that 
dangerous and unprotected littoral. There re- 
mained not only the rest of the Baltic frontage, 
but the coasts of Schleswig-Holstein to the east 
and west, and the low shores of the North Sea 
with its outlying chain of islands. It was a 
k on OIK of these that gave the German 
movement its needed impetus, just as a similar 
disaster in Kn^land had brought about the 
resuscitation of the Institution. On the 10th of 
September 1860 there was stranded, on the west 
side of Borkum, the Hanoverian brig Alliance. 


No attempt at a rescue could be made, there were 
no appliances at hand, and the whole crew of ten 
perished without an effort being possible. 

Public sympathy was instantly aroused, and 
the press made it its business to recall to memory 
the similar disaster of November 1854, when the 
wreck of the Johanna on the island of Spiekeroog 
had resulted in a loss of thirty-four lives. In 
November 1860 two gentlemen of Bremen agi- 
tated strongly for the establishment of a life- 
saving service on the islands of the North Sea. 
They challenged the whole German people to 
found, with the help of the State, an enterprise 
which could vie with the English Institution ; 
and which, like it, could deserve the name of 
being truly national. The matter was taken up 
by shipowners in a spirited fashion, the press 
followed suit, and, as a result, a committee was 
appointed at Bremen to enter into details. 

Every one was persuaded of the necessity 
for the immediate establishment of a German 
Society for the Rescue of the Shipwrecked. At 
the commencement of the following year the 
movement found supporters in Emden and 
Hamburg. On 2nd March 1861 there was 
constituted at Emden the first German Society 
for Saving Life at Sea. It was founded by 
representatives of the towns of Linden, Leer, 
Papenburg, and Norden. August of the same 


year saw the birth of a Hamburg Society, and 
Bremerhaven also discussed the matter. The 
Bremen Society was not actually founded until 
16th April 1863. 

The movement now spread quickly, and the 
various projects developed each in its own 
way. The Emden Society, which was under 
the strongest management, established life-boat 
stations on Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, 
Langeoog, and Spiekeroog, and on the main- 
land at Neuharlingersiel and Karolinensiel. In 
addition, a Manby mortar was placed on Juist. 
During the five years following its foundation 
this Society saved eighty-seven lives. 

The Bremerhaven project fell through ; but 
ic Hamburg Association commenced by found- 
stations at Cuxhaven and Duhnen, and 
followed this up by building a lightship which 
was greatly needed. The Bremen Society placed 
an English life-boat at Bremerhaven-Geeste- 
munde, and erected a station on Wangeroog. 

In 1865 a movement was started for the 
foundation of a National German Society which 
should combine and regulate the varied en- 
deavours of these different bodies. Others were 
still coming into existence, and it was already 
apparent that the State-provided stations on the 
Baltic were quite inadequate. It was indeed 
high time that something was done towards 


unity and mutual effort. The feeling grew, and 
on 29th March 1865 a meeting was summoned 
at Kiel of representatives of the German coast 
towns. A committee of fourteen was appointed 
in April of the same year, and a memorandum 
was issued calling for a united effort to found a 
German Society on the English lines. The first 
full meeting was held on May 29th, and it called 
into existence the German Society for the Rescue 
of the Shipwrecked. 

The Society's first action was to publish 
broadcast an appeal addressed to the German 
people, and calling upon them for their sup- 
port in eloquent language. It enumerated the 
Society's needs, and advocated the immediate 
provision of fifty new stations. Seven district 
organisations were established, and a first prac- 
tical move was made in the erection of life-boat 
stations on Amrum and Travemunde. A mortar 
plant was placed at Sylt, and four boats and 
five rocket apparatus were ordered. 

The headquarters of the Society were estab- 
lished at Bremen, and, at the first general ordi- 
nary meeting, the erection of fourteen stations 
was approved and ordered. Eight of these 
stations were completed in 1866, and ten more 
were added during the following year. In 
1875 the number of points guarded was over 
80, by 1890 it had risen to 111, and now it is 129. 


The war between Prussia and Austria checked 
for a time the early development of the Society, 
but it had its good effect in that it bound together 
with closer ties the inland and coastal towns 
of Germany. At the beginning of 1867, King 
Wilhelm became the Society's protector, and in 
1872 it received its charter. 

In the meantime it had been gradually ab- 
sorbing the remaining local organisations. A 
society had been started at Stralsund in 1865 ; 
three years later it joined the wider association, 
and, at the same time, a smaller society at Stolp- 
munde was taken over. The Hamburg Society 
threw in its lot with the other in 1869, and the 
important Emden Society was finally absorbed 
in 1873. As a final triumph the whole of the 
Prussian State establishment was handed over 
in the early eighties. 

The boats placed on the stations in those days 
were our old friends the English Peake life- 
boats (" Peakeschen " boats they called them 
in Germany) and an American patent boat named, 
after its inventor, the " Francis." The former 
has already been fully described. We must give 
some details of the other, since it was the parent 
of the present German life-boat. It was very 
beamy, double-ended, and built of sheet iron. 
It had end boxes, but no arrangements for self- 
emptying or self-righting. Being only half the 


weight of a Peake boat and of very simple con- 
struction, it was far more suitable for the low 
sandy shores which predominate in Germany. 
The heavier vessels were only used where they 
could lie afloat in river mouths and harbour 

The Francis boat was gradually improved 
until at last it gave place to the " German " 
life-boat. The strong points of this fine vessel 
are its stability and its lightness. It is built 
of steel, and is made, as a rule, in two sizes, 
24 ft. 6 in. and 27 ft. 9 in. in length. 

We will describe the larger type. With 
27f feet over all, it has 8 ft. 3 in. beam, and 
a draft of just over a foot with all its gear 
aboard. It is flat in the floor, and shaped like 
a whale-boat pointed fore - and - aft. Instead 
of a keel it is provided with a centre plate. 
This works in a wooden case which, reaching 
to beneath the thwarts, and being left open, 
serves to free the boat partially of any water 
that may be shipped. There are air-boxes fore- 
and-aft and along both sides, and a pump which 
empties water out of the boat into the centre- 
plate case. It weighs with its gear a little over 
a ton and a quarter. The equipment consists 
of mast and sails, oars, anchor, etc., just as in 
our own life-boats, as well as that most useful 
accessory, a drogue. The transporting carriage is 


:he peculiar curve on the gunwale characteristic of the " Peake " type. 



/>r permission of the Deutscht Gescllschaft zur Rcttung Schirfbrtichiger. 




somewhat like our own, but smaller and lighter, 
and it is fitted with sand-plates (see Fig. 38). 

By 1890 the Peake boats were all abandoned 
except one. A boat of this type capsized at 
anchor in 1880 whilst the men were stowing the 
sail, and, on this account, there was no longer 
any confidence placed in them. In their place 
the German boats have been stationed in the 
rivers and harbour entrances, but in these cases 
they are provided with double decks for the 
urpose of self-emptying and self-righting. They 
ve 6 inches more freeboard than those above 
described, but otherwise are the same. 

Wooden boats are still supplied to a few 
stations, where the men are wedded to them 
in spite of the obvious advantages of the steel 
boat. From this it will be seen that the 
German Society follows our example in deferring 
in every possible way to the wishes of the crews. 

There are now 105 steel German life-boats 
pplied to stations, two of which are self- 
emptying and self-righting, and one steel cutter 
on these principles. Fourteen wooden boats are 
still in use, and three self-emptying and self- 
righting cutters. There are also steel ice-boats 
on two stations. Sixty-one stations have rocket 
apparatus supplied in addition to the boats, and at 
seventeen places there is rocket apparatus alone. 

The first German motor life-boat has recently 


been stationed at Laboe. This vessel is 32f feet 
long by 9f feet beam, and draws about 2 feet. 
It has a double deck the whole length of the 
boat, and is built of double diagonal mahogany. 
There are four relieving tubes and nine copper 
air-cases on either side. The engine is a two- 
cylinder Korting, giving 6 knots with 15 h.p. 
The screw revolves in a tunnel. She has thwarts 
for eight men rowing, her whole crew being 
ten. Her behaviour has justified the Society in 
ordering five more installations. 

The cost of one of the ordinary German 
life-boats is from 125 to 150, and of the trans- 
sporting carriage 75. 

The system of rewarding the men is different 
from that obtaining in our own life-boat service, 
but similar to that adopted by the Board of 
Trade Rocket Department. Payments are 
made according to the number of lives saved 
and the circumstances under which the rescue 
is effected. They vary from l to 4 10s. for 
each man saved, according to the means adopted 
and the risks incurred. The men are insured 
against loss of life, and the Society compensates 
them when injured on service. 

Since its foundation the Society has saved 
through its stations the lives of 3676 persons. 
Its income is derived entirely from voluntary 



Great Britain and Holland have always been 
close competitors in everything pertaining to 
the sea. In fact, our old rivals have so far 
shared with us in its ruling, that in sailor par- 
lance every good seaman who is not a Britisher 
is a Dutchman. No matter whether he is a 
native of Holland, Germany, or Scandinavia, 
he is a Dutchman the seas over, in contra- 
distinction to the " Dago," the altogether in- 
ferior mariner of the south. For the last two 
hundred years we have been just a trifle ahead, 
but it was not always so. Even in the reign 
of Charles II. all our charts were Dutch, and it 
was by that king's orders that we first surveyed 
the sea ourselves. They certainly were ahead 
of us in the most praiseworthy invention of 
yachting, and it is from Dutch sources that we 
draw very many of our sea terms. 

However, when we come to the inaugura- 
tion of a life-boat service we were as much as 
eight months to the good, and we have kept just 
bout that advantage ever since. The English 
Institution was founded in March 1824, the 
Life-Saving Society of the North and South 
Netherlands came into being on the llth of 
November of the same year. A few months 
later another association was formed at Rotter- 


dam, " The South Holland Society for Saving 
the Shipwrecked." Now these two Societies work 
alongside one another, and between them con- 
trol the whole of the Dutch life-boat service. 
They are both of them supported by voluntary 
contributions, but the Rotterdam Society re- 
ceives an annual subsidy from the State of 
10,000 florins. 

As an example of how closely the neigh- 
bouring country has followed our lead, we may 
instance the introduction of steam in the early 
nineties. Messrs. R. & H. Green built the 
Duke of Northumberland for the English 
service in 1890, and followed her up by the 
City of Glasgow in 1894. By the beginning 
of 1895 the same firm had completed a similar 
vessel for Holland. This boat was for the South 
Holland Society, and two of them are still 
kept on service at the Hook of Holland. It 
has been the same with motors. Both Societies 
are now following our lead, and are installing 
power into some units of their respective fleets. 

The North and South Netherlands Society 
has its headquarters in Amsterdam, and is the 
larger of the two organisations. Last year it 
increased the scope of its operations by amal- 
gamating the Harlinger Life-Boat Association, 
thereby adding three stations to its list, one of 
which is in Friesland and another in Texel. The 

y^i T~l ""* "m J 


Society has thirty-two stations altogether, at 
thirty of which there are life-boats of one sort 
and another, the remaining two being supplied 
with rocket apparatus only. The latter is pro- 
vided at all the stations except eight. The 
fleet consists of twenty-two surf-boats, or 
" strand " life-boats as they are called, two self- 
righters, two motor life-boats, and five " vlets " 
or flat-bottomed boats, square- sterned and high 
in the bow. At the time of writing there is 
also a reserve boat and a sailing-boat building 
for Rottumeroog. 

The surf-boats are eminently suited to the 
low sandy shores of Holland. They are light 
and easily transported, and are similar in many 
ways to those in use in Germany and Denmark. 
They are 27 ft. 8 in. long by 8 ft. beam, 
with a straight keel, high rounded stem and 
stern, and good sheer. They are provided with 
air-cases at either end and along the sides, and 
with eight relieving tubes to free the surplus 
water. The planking is of teak, and stem and 
stern posts of oak. The boats are unsinkable 
and self-emptying, and have thwarts for six 
rowers. An unusual adjunct, and one which 
is seldom met with in any other country, is 
the reservoir of oil at either end, to be used 
for the purpose of smoothing the surf. The 
self-righting boats are 34 ft. 4 in. long by 


8 feet in beam, and have all the qualities of the 
surf-boats with the addition of the power of 
recovering when capsized. They have end and 
side air-cases, eight relieving tubes, and a 
large water ballast tank in the bottom. In 
addition they are provided with a heavy iron 
keel. These boats are built like ours, of double 
diagonal mahogany. They are rigged with mast 
and lugsail. 

One of the surf-boats, too, is to be equipped 
with sailing gear and with water ballast tank 
and drop keel. She is destined for Moddergat 
station. The Scheveningen motor boat is 37 f ft. 
long, and is kept in the fishing harbour. The 
engine is a 45 h.p. Brooke, giving her 8 
knots per hour. The screw works in a tunnel, 
the engine being placed well forward. The 
other motor life-boat, the Brandaris, stationed 
at Tershelling, is an extremely fine and powerful 
vessel. She is 57 J ft. in length by 14f ft. in 
beam, and draws 4 ft. 4 in. of water. Her 
engine is a 76 h.p. double-cylinder Kromhout, 
driving the boat at 8| knots. She has two 
roomy cabins for the accommodation of pas- 
sengers, and is ketch-rigged with two masts 
and sails. 

The Society's boathouses are substantial 
stone buildings, and contain both the life-boat 
and the rocket apparatus upon its carriage. 

By permission of the Noord-en-Zuid Hollandsche Rcddingmaatschaf>pij. 

By permission of the Danish Ministry of Marine. 


is can be seen in Figure 50, the transporting 
carriage differs largely from ours. It has a 
short slip with rollers at one end, and wide 
supports for the bilges of the life-boat. 

The men are recruited and paid almost pre- 
cisely on our own system. The captain alone 
receives a small annual salary, the others are 
rewarded for each service or practice. Names 
are enrolled in sufficient numbers for two 
crews. The Society pays allowances and pen- 
sions to men of long service, or to those injured 
on duty, and it also gives rewards and medals 
for life-saving at sea. Up till the end of 1910 

I the number of lives it had saved was 4324, and 
it has stations at every five miles along the 
The sister Society, that of South Holland, 
possesses ten stations, among them the highly 
important one at the Hook. At this place it 

Pps quite a fleet of vessels two fine steam 
life-boats on tlu Rikshaven, and one self-righter ; 
and in addition, on the Nieuwe Waterweg, a self- 
righter, a second life-boat, and two " vlets," as 
well as two line -carrying guns and a rocket 
apparatus. The Society's total fleet consists 
of two strain life-boats, two motor life-boats, 
six self-ri^hh rs, three other life-boats (one of 
them built of steel), and one surf-boat. The 
motor boats are at Burghsluis and Vlissengen. 


They are fitted with Tylor 24 h.p. engines, 
driving them at a speed of 7 to 9 knots. 
The steam life-boats are very similar to our 
own earlier types, which are described in 
Chapter V. 

The story of the wreck of the English pas- 
senger steamer Berlin bears magnificent witness to 
the devotion of the Dutch life-boat men. This 
vessel struck on a spit of sand at the extreme 
end of the North Pier of the Hook of Holland 
at about five in the morning of Thursday, 21st 
February 1907. It was blowing a hurricane from 
the north-west ; the seas made a clean breach 
over her, and she broke up speedily. The 
steam life-boat President van Heel went out 
at once in charge of Captain Jensen with a 
crew of nine men. It was only with the utmost 
difficulty that she could get out at all, so terrible 
was the force of the wind, but she succeeded 
at last in coming within three fathoms of 
the Berlin. The seas lifted her up and tossed 
her high above the wreck, and disaster seemed 
not imminent but certain. However, the cap- 
tain succeeded in getting his anchor to hold 
for a space, and fired two rockets. The second 
established communication, but only for a few 
minutes ; the line was fouled by wreckage arid 
was severed. 

Then the anchor chain parted, and the life- 


boat was forced to back away clear. She re- 
turned to the harbour for a fresh anchor and 
more rockets, and, during that brief space, the 
Berlin went to pieces and the majority of those 
aboard were drowned. By ten the President 
van Heel was out again and alongside the wreck, 
but she could not get a line aboard. Later 
in the day she tried again, and on the Friday 
she put out to the wreck three times, but still 
the sea was so tremendous that nothing could 
be done. 

On the Friday afternoon, at 1.30, she left 
the harbour in the teeth of a blinding snow- 
storm. Accompanying her was the pilot boat 
Helvoetsluis, with Prince Henry of the Nether- 
lands aboard. On approaching the wreck, Cap- 
tain Jensen of the life-boat with four volunteers 
made a dash for it in a small boat. A rope was 
thrown, and to it he succeeded in making fast 
another line, thus securing communication. 
Then joining hands and wading up to their 
necks in water, these five brave men reached 
the lighthouse. The rope was made fast, and 
three women slid down in safety. They were 
taken aboard the pilot ship. 

Seven men followed without accident, and 
1 1 Kii were now only two women and a child 
left aboard, who were too terrified to essay the 
perilous journey. The falling tide drove the 


vessels back into the harbour, but it was 
decided to make another attempt at two in 
the morning, and to rescue the survivors, if 
need be, by main force. On the previous day 
one man was picked up by the life-boat, who 
had abandoned the wreck of his own accord 
and endeavoured to reach the shore by 

The story of the Berlin will go down to pos- 
terity as one of the most terrible in the annals of 
the sea. But though we may fail to remember 
the fearful total of more than one hundred 
and twenty drowned, we shall never forget how 
those five men led the forlorn hope and rescued 
that handful of survivors in the face of almost 
certain death. Even if the Netherlands life- 
boat men had not a thousand tales like it to their 
credit, they could point to that one service and 
hold up their heads with the best and bravest 
on the coasts of the seven seas. 


We shall find our chief interest in the Belgian 
life-boat service in its system in general and 
its method of manning in particular. So far 
as fleet and history are concerned, the former 
is small and the latter scanty. When we men- 
tion that the service was established on the 


coast of Flanders in the year 1838, at the expense 
of the State, we leave nothing more to say of 
historical note. We cannot trace its develop- 
ment, since, having only 40 miles of coast-line 
to protect, it was able to come to immediate 

There are now eight stations, four of which, 
Nieuport, Ostend, Blankenberghe, and Heyst, 
are each subdivided into two posts, east and 
west. The others, Adinkerke, Coq, Zeebrugge, 
and Knocke, are single. 

With regard to the fleet, the boats are such as 
are suitable to the conditions on a flat, sandy 
coast. They are 29| feet long by 9 feet beam, 
and draw only 10 J inches with all their gear and 
crew aboard. Air-cases render them insubmers- 
ible, and they are self-emptying, but not self- 
righting. Their great features are lightness and 
ease of transport. The carriage is of iron, and is 
so constructed that the two small wheels in front 
can be easily detached, leaving the boat sup- 
ported by the remaining two alone. Thus it 
can be used with cither two or four wheels 
according to convenience and the condition 
of the sand. The total weight of boat and 
carriage is only 2 tons 11 cwt. Horses are 
necessary when the launch must be effected at 
a considerable distance from the boathouse, 
but not otherwise. 


The boat at Ostende is more strongly built 
in every way. She is 32| feet long by 9f feet 
beam, and she has 6 inches more freeboard than 
any other vessel of the fleet. When called 
out on service she is taken in tow by one of 
the State tugs attached to the port of Ostende, 
which brings her to the close proximity of the 

Motors are installed in the boats belonging 
to Zeebrugge and Blankenberghe. 

The boathouses are brick buildings, and a 
portion of each is set aside as a guardhouse ; 
there the men are accommodated, whenever it 
is considered that the weather conditions demand 
their permanent attendance, in case of need. 
Everything is provided for their convenience, 
such as camp-beds, chairs, stoves, and lamps. 
A paved roadway leads from the boathouse to 
the beach. 

In addition to the boat, there is at each 
station a line-carrying gun on its carriage, a 
rocket apparatus which is managed in accord- 
ance with the instructions of our own Board 
of Trade, and a four-wheel truck for the trans- 
port of all or any of the gear. Another most 
useful adjunct is a box containing surgical 
implements and every possible requirement for 
rendering assistance to the wounded or the 
apparently drowned. All the stations are in 


telephonic communication with one another as 
well as with certain Customs posts. In this way 
a really efficient method is provided of notifying 

While the Belgian Life-Boat Service is under 
State control, it is not, like that of America, 
handicapped by the lack of a coastwise popu- 
lation. Every individual member of the crew 
is paid a fixed wage, but he is recruited on the 
spot, and he is able under ordinary circumstances 
to carry on some other trade. As a rule he is 
a fisherman or coastal pilot, except when duty 
calls him to the service of the State. The 
personnel of each station consists of a captain, 
quartermaster, and ten men, all of whom are 
in charge of a resident overseer. Their salaries 
are as follows : Overseer, 24 per annum ; 
captain, 16 ; quartermaster, 12 16s. ; and 
men, 10 apiece. In addition there is attached 
to each station a brigade of volunteers, who are 
enrolled in case of need to take the place of any 
of the iv<nilar men who may happen to be away 
when thei are required. Whenever 

the crew is called together in bad weather to 
stand by the station, each man, whether in 
receipt of salary or not, is paid the sum of Is. 8d. 
per day, increased in the case of quartermasters 
and captains to 2s. 6d. and 2s. lid. respectively. 
1 * >r each night-attendance they receive half of the 


above sums. Monthly exercises are held, and 
others quarterly of a more elaborate nature. 
By attendance at the latter the men and the 
officers can earn from 2s 6d. to 3s. 9d. Finally 
there are the rewards for actual services ; in 
these the volunteers participate, and the amounts 
are fixed according to the weather and circum- 
stances. The maximum is 2 to each man who 
puts to sea. 

At Ostend there is such a large maritime 
population that it is considered unnecessary to 
employ any salaried crews at all. The State 
relies at this port entirely upon the brigade of 
volunteers, who are sufficiently numerous to be 
depended upon on all occasions. The paid men 
enjoy the benefit of a scheme of pensions. The 
whole service is under the management of 
the Administration of Marine, the principal 
officer being the Sub-Inspector of Pilotage at 

We give all these figures at the risk of being 
tedious, since Belgium provides such an ex- 
cellent example of a State-controlled system 
under conditions otherwise similar to those which 
obtain in the principal countries of Europe. 

However, in comparing the methods with 
those of England, we must bear one thing in 
mind the scope of the service is very small, 
and its requirements are simple and uniform, 


There can be but little diversity in 40 miles of 
coast-line, and regulations which apply equally 
well to all of eight stations might be found 
wanting in the case of five-and-thirty times that 




DENMARK took its first steps towards the 
provision of a life - saving service about the 
middle of the nineteenth century, and its scheme 
was definitely organised by laws passed on the 
22nd of March 1852. It owed its inception 
to a single man, " Kammeraad " C. B. Claudi, 
who from his youth had been keenly interested 
in the subject, and had studied its ins and outs, 
especially in England. After he had travelled at 
his own cost in this country, he brought forward 
in 1845 a proposal for the establishment of a 
life-saving service, and submitted it to the 
Customs Authority and Chamber of Commerce. 
Thereafter a wider interest was taken in the 
subject, and in the middle of 1846 the Associa- 
tion for the Assistance of Sailors built a life-boat, 
which it placed on the Agger Canal. 

Moreover, in the following year the Free- 
masons built a similar boat, provided with air- 


cases, which was stationed in Flyvholm harbour. 
They also provided a rocket apparatus and sent 
it to Klitmoller. In 1846 strong representations 
were made to the Government to provide 
apparatus for assisting the shipwrecked at 
various points on the coast. As a result, in 
June 1847 a sum of 5000 riksdalers was 
voted for the purpose of founding preliminary 
stations. During the same summer Claudi 
riled to England in order to purchase 
apparatus, and to study the subject on the 

In October 1849 a commission was appointed, 
consisting of Claudi and two others, to inquire 
into the whole subject, to make suitable trials, 
and to report as to the places where stations 
were necessary. As a result, further stations 

t established. 

In 1850-51, Parliament voted 1500 riks- 
dalrrs for these purposes, and in 1851-52 a 
further sum of 10,000 riksdalers, and Claudi 
appointed superintendent of the Danish 
Life-Saving Service, which was definitely organ- 
ised under the laws of March 1852. He filled 
this post until his death in 1909. By the end 
of 1852 there were twenty-six stations in full 
workin<_>; order, three were added in 1857, three 
in 1860, and so on, until there are now no fewer 
than sixty-nine, including the thirteen subsidiary 


stations which are provided with boats, etc., 
and worked by crews from the neighbouring 
posts. Fifty-four stations are equipped with 
boats, and fifty with rocket apparatus. 

In 1892 trial was made of a patrol service, 
which was extended in 1897. During the eight 
months from September till April a watch is 
kept from sunset to sunrise, and the coasts 
are properly patrolled. The life -boats are 
insubmersible and self-emptying. They are 
clinker-built of oak and elm, and are furnished 
with copper air-cases. With few exceptions they 
are of the following dimensions : 30 ft. 6 in. 
long, by 8 ft. 3 in. beam and 12 in. draught. 
They weigh about one ton fourteen cwt. with 

The boats are mounted on a transport 
waggon, and are manned by a crew of twelve. 
Two of them are of larger dimensions, and 
are provided with drop keels. There is also 
a light American surf -boat at Thyboron 

The pay of the men is about 10, rising to 
22 in the case of the superintendents of stations. 
In addition they receive rewards for actual 
services. Medals and decorations are awarded 
for life-saving. 

Since its foundation the Danish Life-Saving 
Service has saved 8837 lives. 



The question of the provision of life-boats 
in Sweden was first mooted in 1810, when a pro- 
position was considered in Parliament to place 
vessels, built on the English pattern, at the most 
dangerous points on the coast. There were 
difficulties in the way, however, and nine years 
later, on 19th August 1819, it was decreed that 
the suggestion could not be carried out. The 
matter was apparently dropped, and we hear 
nothing more of it for over thirty years. In 1852 
the Royal Naval Club at Carlskrona took up the 
question, and articles appeared in one of the 
nautical publications recording what had already 
been done in Denmark in the way of providing 
life-boats. In January of the following year 
another article was published advocating the 

blishment of stations on the Danish lines, 
and giving a list of places which ought to be 
so protected. 

In the meantime the Naval Club had obtained 
from Denmark the necessary models and draw- 
ings of the vessels then in use. The Marine 
Department at last took the matter up, and 
these models, etc., were submitted to them. 
A year later the question was again raised in 
Parliament, and a sum of 10,000 riksdalers 
was voted as a preliminary grant. On the 1st of 


June, Lieutenant C. Kleman was sent officially 
to Denmark in order to study the methods 
and the material of that country on the spot. 
He afterwards made a tour of the Swedish 
coasts with a view to reporting as to the most 
suitable places for the establishment of stations. 
The first practical step was taken in February 

1855, when the State authorised the foundation 
of two life-boat stations, one at Malarhusen on 
Sandhammeren, and the other at Brantevik. 
These were properly equipped and opened in 

1856. Lieutenant Kleman was appointed to 
the directorship of the service, and he established 
eleven more stations during the succeeding ten 
years. Four of these were on the Scanian coast, 
two on Gothland, one on Oland, three in the 
archipelago of Bohus Lan, and one at Kalmar. 

On 21st December 1871 the charge of all the 
life-boats and life-saving stations was taken over 
by the Pilotage Board. Their upkeep and 
maintenance were eventually provided out of 
the dues on shipping for lights, etc. There are 
now fifteen stations in all, at eleven of which 
life-boats are stationed. At the other four 
there is rocket apparatus, and similar gear is 
provided at six of the boat stations. 

From the time of its foundation up to 1909 
the service had been instrumental in saving 
1838 lives. 



The Norwegian Life-Boat Service is but a child 
alongside of some of its venerable brethren, but 
it is a very precocious child, for it has adopted 
a line of its own, and developed on a perfectly 
unique system. Instead of waiting for the 
shipwrecked mariner to come ashore, the Nor- 

ian Society sends its fleet to sea and effects 
a rescue of both boat and crew. 

In other countries the national life-saving 
methods have been modified according to the 
nature of the coast, the climate, and the crews; 
in Norway they have to consider before all 
things the size and duties of the vessels that 

lire their aid. The herring fishery of the 
Norwegian coast is carried on in open boats 
countless in number but small in size. The 
tisherfolk from time immemorial have had the 
most perfect confidence in these vessels, which, 
i matter of fact, depend more for their 
immunity From accident upon the seamanship 
of their owners than upon their own ability. 
Certainly they are fine little boats in their way, 

ly and excellent performers in a sea-way; 
but still they are open boats, with all the obvious 
drawbacks of their kind. 

Similar boats were in use in parts of Scotland, 
but, as we have already related, our Life-Boat 


Institution managed to persuade the fishermen 
to adopt the security of a deck. In the north 
of Norway such wise advice would certainly 
be disregarded. The descendants of the Vikings 
have always sailed their open boats, and it is 
hardly likely that they will ever abandon them. 
The result is, that in the event of an unexpected 
gale the boats are often caught at sea, and 
risk is incurred long before they sail into the 
sphere of action of a shore life-boat. To meet 
this difficulty the Norwegian Society has evolved 
the system of sea-going life-boats. Not only 
can they follow the fleets to sea, but they can 
move from place to place according to the 
exigencies of the fishing. 

The idea of founding a life-saving society 
was first mooted in 1882, but it was not until 
1889 that a small committee was formed to 
consider the situation. This movement de- 
veloped on the lines with which we are by now 
familiar, and in July 1891 was first instituted 
" The Norwegian Society for the Rescue of the 
Shipwrecked." On the eleventh of that month 
a general meeting was held, and constitutions 
were drawn up. There was a second general 
meeting at Christiania on the 30th of June 
1892, and subsequently an advertisement was 
circulated offering prizes for the best plans of 

- . , : . 




The first prize of 150 kroner was eventually 
>n by Christian Stephansen of Christiania, 
and two others were awarded of 100 kroner and 
75 kroner respectively. Subsequently Stephan- 
sen's plans were modified, and a boat was built 
to them, and another was built to the plans 
of Mr. Colin Archer, an Englishman resident 
in Norway, who was the designer of the cele- 
brated Fram. The latter, which was called 
the Colin Archer, was evolved from the type 
of the Hvalor pilot-boat, and w r as completed 
at the end of 1893. The former, the Langesund, 
was finished on 1st January 1894. Two more 
boats, the Tordenskjold and the Feie were built 
in Bergen. 

In December 1893 the Colin Archer sailed 
for Lofoten. She was soon followed by the 
Langesund and the Tordenskjold, and ever 
since then the number has been gradually in- 

ised until to-day the fleet numbers eighteen 
vessels, as well as one smaller boat for a crew 
of three, and one surf-boat. Three were built 
in 1894, three in 1895, one in 1896, and so on, 
the latest addition being the Fan/0, built in 

For collect i no- purposes the country is divided 
ito eleven districts, each with a committee 
inder a chairman and vice-chairman. Life- 
iving medals are awarded as in other countries. 


The boats are decked sailing ketches, 46 
feet in length, with a beam of 15 feet, and a 
draught of about 7 feet. They are very strongly 
built, the stem and stern posts, the outer plank- 
ing, etc., being of oak. The frames are of yellow 
pine, grown to shape, and are double, and 
between each is fitted an oak rib, which is 
riveted to the outer planking. Inside the 
frames is an inner watertight skin extending 
upwards from the cabin floor, and the latter 
itself is watertight. As a result there is an 
inner vessel formed, which will keep afloat even 
if the outer planking is stove in. The boat is 
divided by four watertight bulkheads, forming 
two cabins and a space aft for sail lockers and 
such-like. The cockpit is watertight, so that 
the boat when battened down can disregard 
entirely the heaviest of seas. She is handled 
by a crew of four men, and there are berths in the 
two cabins for ten. The gear is all of the best 
and strongest, and, taking everything together, 
it would be difficult to imagine a vessel more 
seaworthy and reliable. 

The life-boats are moved about from port to 
port, and regulate their movements according 
to those of the fishing-fleets. Their great power 
enables them to tow the little open fishing- 
boats with ease, and in this way they rescue 
both vessel and crew. 


Our illustration shows the greater part of the 
>t lying to moorings at Bergen. It gives one 
better idea of the appearance and size of 
the Norwegian life-boat, or Redningsskoite, than 
can any amount of description. 

As is evident from the nature of the work 
that it undertakes, the record of the society 
must be given in terms of boats and men. 
From 1893 to 1910 the fleet was instrumental 
in saving 2051 men and 566 vessels. In ad- 
dition it rendered assistance in one way and 
another to an immense number of fishing-boats. 
The income of the society is derived from 
voluntary subscriptions, augmented by a small 
contribution from the State of 25,000 kroner, 
or nearly 1400. 


The Russian Society for the Preservation of 
ii'e From Shipwreck was founded in 1872. Two 
later the marriage of the Duke of Edin- 
to the (irand Duchess Marie brought 
ngland and Russia into close relationship. 
A number of British residents in St. Petersburg 
two lilV- boats to be built at the yard of 
rxvrs. Forrest t, at Limehouse, the lirm which 
then building for the Institution. These 
ere launched in September 1874, and christ- 
I the M in-in and the Alfred. They were 


sent forthwith to St. Petersburg, where they 
arrived on 22nd November, and were received 
with great ceremony. A deputation offered 
them to the Duke of Edinburgh and the Grand 
Duchess as a wedding present, and, at their 
instructions, the two boats were forwarded to the 
Russian Society for the Preservation of Life from 
Shipwreck. One was stationed at Nicolaieff on 
the Black Sea, and the other on the island of 
Oesel in the Baltic. 

These were standard self-righters of that date, 
built of double diagonal mahogany and 33 ft. 
long, by 8| ft. beam, and 4 ft. in depth. 

The Russian Society is supported by volun- 
tary contributions, but receives an annual grant 
from the State. The work is allocated to district 
branches, of which Archangel may be taken as 
an example. This branch comprises, during the 
summer months, two stations on the sea-coast 
and one river station. In the winter the latter 
is closed, and the work is done by four half- 
stations, as they are termed, Allotted to these 
posts are seven life-boats and one other boat. 

The Society is now called the Imperial 
Russian Life Saving Society. 







FRANCE can claim to have been first in the 
I it-Id in nearly all that pertains to saving life 
sea. Bernieres invented the first life-boat, 
lacy the first belt that would support its 
carer in the water, and in 1757 we find 
records of a French method of resuscitating the 
apparently drowned. La Fere, too, was the con- 
temporary of Bell in his invention of a line- 
carrying gun. It was left, however, to other 
countries to bring their life-boat service to a high 
slate of efficiency before France made any 
org;; effort. When it did move, however, 

it moved quickly, and it has now as fine a 
as any in the world. It is, indeed, the 
only nation which has provided life-boat stations 
in certain of its colonies, besides amply guarding 
\vn coasts. 
The French service was started on thoroughly 


English lines, and its methods to-day more 
closely approximate to our own than those of any 
other country. The chief points of divergence 
are that the French Society controls the national 
life-saving service of line - carrying guns and 
rockets, whereas in this country it is in other 
hands ; and that in France, although the English 
model of self-righting boat is very popular, it 
has given place in certain parts to types that 
differ widely from our own. In everything 
else the English lead is followed. 

The French Society for Saving the Ship- 
wrecked was founded in the year 1865. It was 
immediately recognised by the State, and a 
decree authorising its establishment was issued 
on 17th November of that year. There had 
been local efforts made before this, and the Central 
Society was organised to enter into relations 
with those smaller bodies, to aid them, and to 
form further branches in other places. 

During the first year of its existence the 
Society founded four stations at Barfleur, St. 
Malo, Audierne, and Saint- Jean -de-Luz. In 
1866 twelve more posts were added, eleven were 
formed in the following year, and five more in 
1868. By 1870 there were no fewer than forty 
boats placed on the coast, ten years later there 
were sixty, in 1890 the number had reached 
to eighty, and now the total fleet numbers one 



By fiemtission of the SociM Central de Saitvetag* des Naufragts. > \ 

By permission 9/tkt Stxittt CcntreUt d* Sattvttagt dts \a i< 


hundred and ten. In the year 1882 the Society 
turned its attention to the French possessions 
in Northern Africa and founded a station at 
Oran, and soon after it placed its first life-boat 
on the coast of Tunis. 

Its method has been to found a life-boat 
station at every point where there was a 
sufficient coastwise population to provide a 
voluntary crew, and where the dangers of naviga- 
tion and the exigencies of the sea traffic demanded 
it. At deserted points it has established its 
line-carrying apparatus, since these stations could 
be served by any permanent officials that 
might be in the neighbourhood. They are in 
charge of customs' posts, of lighthousemen, and 
of those responsible for marine signal stations. 

At every life-boat station twenty-two men 
are enrolled, sufficient, that is, for two crews 
of ten each, together with a coxswain and sub- 
coxswain. As in our service, the two latter 
receive a small annual salary, while the men 
are paid whenever they go out on service, or 
whenever they attend at one of the quarterly 
practices. The compensation to men injured 
on service, the pensions, and the allowances to 
widows and orphans, are on the lines of those 
given by the English Life-Boat Institution. 
There are five hundred of the life-saving stations, 

of which eighty - seven are equipped with a 


line-carrying gun mounted on a carriage. The 
remainder contain life-belts, lines and ropes, 
weighted canes, and any gear, in fact, of which 
use can be made in saving life. 

It is estimated that one of the stations, with 
a gun, costs but 4 per annum to support, 
whereas a life-boat station cannot be kept up 
for less than 60. The initial cost of a life-boat 
station, equipped on the French lines, is 1320, 
with boathouse and carriage complete ; of a 
gun station, 140. 

As in England and other countries, the French 
Society gives medals and awards for saving life 
at sea by other means than the use of its own 
gear. It is supported entirely by voluntary 
contributions, but receives 1200 per annum 
from the State towards the rewards to the 
merchant marine. Although the fleet is of only 
half the size, the types and models of the boats 
are even more in number than in our own service. 
The reason, of course, is to be found in the varied 
characteristics of the coast-line and in the 
preferences of the men. Exactly half of the 
whole fleet are self-righters similar to our own ; 
they are self-emptying and insubmersible, and 
vary in length from 32 feet to 37| feet. Being 
fitted with eight relieving tubes, they will free 
themselves of water in fifteen seconds. They 
have high end air-boxes and an iron keel. 


Hy permission of the Societe Centrale de Sauvetage ties Nai'f rages. 


Fl;. 56. -|KIIC-ATIO\ <i| NIK GBO 
/>> permission oj tlu Socittt Centrale de Sauvetage tics Xaufragts. 

.' . 


The non-self-righting type is in appearance 
something like our own Liverpool boat. Like 
Bernieres' original French life-boat it is un- 
capsizable, and it is self -empty ing as well. The 
length of these is from 28 1 feet to 36 feet, and there 
are eight of them at different stations. There is 
one boat similar in principle but differing in 
detail at He de Groix. 

The next type, the Henry, seems to be 
peculiar to the Latin nations. We do not hear 
of it at all in Northern Europe. It is built 
of steel, and is uncapsizable and insubmersible, 
and it varies in length from 21 ft. 4 in. to nearly 
28 ft. It is very beamy and powerful in appear- 
ance, double-ended, and with moderate sheer. 
There are eight of these altogether, and nine more 
steel boats somewhat different in detail. 

At nineteen stations are boats of various 
models suited in one way or another to the 
exigencies of the situation and the wishes of 
the crews. 

A steam life-boat, the Amiral Lqfont, was 
stationed at Roy an in 1902 at a cost of 3000. 
She is of 374 tons displacement, and does excellent 
work, serving the district of the mouth of the 
Gironde. There are three whale-boats in addi- 
tion at Royan, and three more of these light 
vessels at other stations. 

When the time came to talk of installing motor 


power, the French Society showed a marked 
preference for petroleum. The experts were 
averse to exposing the men to the dangers of 
explosion and fire from petrol. In February 
1908 a Marchand petroleum engine was in- 
stalled in an old boat for experimental purposes. 
It was ballasted to bring its displacement to 
6 tons, and with an 11 h.p. engine could attain 
a speed of 5| knots. However, the installation 
was found to be too heavy, and the engine 
took too long to start. During the following 
year there was an exhibition of petroleum 
motors for fishing - boats, and the Society 
fixed its choice on a suitable engine, which is 
being installed in a motor life-boat for Dieppe. 
This boat is 32 ft. 9 in. in length by 8^ft. beam, 
and displaces a little over 6 tons. Her 24 h.p. 
motor gives her a speed of 7 knots. She is 
propelled by a turbine instead of a screw, and, 
although non-self-righting, is practically un- 
capsizable. Another like her is planned for the 
station of Sainte Lucie. 

A typical instance of a rescue by means of 
a French life-boat occurred in November 1910 at 
Gravelines. It is to the assistance of fishing 
vessels that they mostly put to sea. We will 
tell the story in the coxswain's own words. 

" At half-past three in the morning Mons. M. 
perceived a small boat making signals of distress 


a distance of about two hundred yards from 
the jetty. He immediately sent a man to warn 
me. Without waiting to get together all my 
gear, I hurried to the boathouse, and sounded 
the horn as a signal of alarm. Since many of the 
fishermen were at sea, and among them a large 
number of my men, I had to make up the crew 
with the sailors who helped to launch the boat. 

" Fortunately I had the sub-coxswain with 
me, and several of my own men to direct things. 
Without them, with the hurricane that was 
blowing, the intense blackness, the rain and the 
lightning, it would have been a most dangerous 

" I have said already that there were many 
boats at sea. On this account ive were exposed 
to the risk of being run down by those who 
entered the harbour, where they sought shelter 
from the storm. 

" Fortunately for me I had aboard an excellent 
crew ; we were obliged to go out of our course 
every moment to avoid vessels entering the port, 
and we were forced to burn hand-lights con- 
tinually to warn them of our presence. Without 
this precaution I am convinced that we should 
have been run down and lost. 

" After having rounded the jetty, we were 
continually covered by the seas. We arrived 
near to the wrecked vessel, and I warned the 


under-coxswain to have ready the grapnel. As 
he went to execute my order, a sea struck us 
on the starboard quarter, which threw us at 
least twenty fathoms to the eastward of the 

" We were obliged to redouble our courage 
and our efforts in order to approach her anew, 
without which the unfortunate seamen would 
have been drowned. 

" We took advantage of a slight lull to hail 
her, and my under-coxswain, having judged 
that we were near enough, hurled his grapnel 
and cried to me, c Francois, it is going to reach 
her.' ' Send it to her if you can, Alfred,' I 
replied. It was done ; the grapnel caught in 
the shrouds. 

" Assisted by his son, a man of courage 
and of herculean strength, communication was 
established, and in three minutes the crew 
were in our boat. As the sea was tremendous, 
we were obliged to choose a place to take the 
boat ashore. 

" The sailors, who were frozen and senseless, 
were carried ashore by our men. While I sent 
my under-coxswain to revive them, I sought for 
horses to replace my boat in the boathouse ; for 
there were still many fishermen at sea, and there 
was every chance that they would again have 
need of us." 



A boat built especially for the district. 
By permission of the Socifte Centrale de Sauvetage des Naufragts. 


By Permission fffhc Can idian Ministry of Marine and Fisheries. 



When the submarine Plumose was sunk at 
Calais by collision with the Pas de Calais, the 
life-boat had to undertake an unusual duty. 
She was launched immediately and towed to the 
scene of the disaster by the steamer Calaisien. 
A mile from the harbour she abandoned the tug, 
and began to drag the bottom with a grapnel 
over a large area. After about half an hour 
the coxswain detected a drop of oil floating on 
the surface, which proved undoubtedly the near 
neighbourhood of the submarine. A moment 
after the grapnel caught in something. The 
anchor was dropped, and the coxswain made 
sure that he was right in his conjecture. Then 
he signalled again to the tug, and carefully 
took the bearings of the position of the 
wrecked vessel. Soon afterwards the torpedo 
boat Grenardier arrived on the scene and 
anchored close at hand. The life-boat stood 
by during the subsequent operations, and was 
not rehoused until eight hours after the first 

The French Society has a fine record, but it 
is not yet satisfied with the scope of its work. 
It is anxious to place many more stations on 
the coasts of Algeria and Tunis. It has recently 
established a boat at Ajaccio in Corsica. Since 
1865 it has given assistance to 1486 vessels and 
rescued no fewer than 18,684 men. 



The Spanish Society for the Saving of the 
Shipwrecked dates back to 1880. It was founded 
in December of that year under the patronage 
of Queen Maria Christina. Seven years later it 
received its charter as an association for the 
public service. At the same time the Spanish 
Government undertook to subsidise it annually 
to the extent of about 1500, in consideration of 
the fact that it took over the State's obligations 
towards the shipwrecked, and also the life-boats 
which the State owned. This grant was made 
conditional on the Society maintaining hence- 
forward seven boats at least in an effective con- 
dition; an obligation which it has never failed 
to fulfil. 

It commenced with the seven insubmersible 
boats which it then acquired, and ever since 
it has invariably made a practice of spending 
the whole of the State subsidy upon material. 
It can now boast of no fewer than fifty well- 
equipped stations. At thirty-three of these, 
including that at Palma, on the island of Mal- 
lorca, there are life-boats provided. Most of these 
are English self-righters, built hitherto in this 
country. A Barcelona firm has now undertaken 
to construct them in exact facsimile. Twenty- 
seven out of these thirty-three posts, and thirteen 


others in addition, are equipped with the line- 
carrying guns or similar apparatus. The various 
systems in vogue are those of Lyle (as used in 
America), Boxer (as used in England), and also 
those of Spandau, Evans, and Dawson. Four 
new stations are under construction. 

The control is in the hands of separate local 
bodies, acting under the Superior Council in 
Madrid. The central organisation supplies all 
boats and material, but the local committees 
are self-governing in all matters that concern 
their own administration. The income is pro- 
vided by voluntary subscriptions augmented 
by the State subsidy, which was increased in 
the year 1903 to 2200. The local committees 
enrol and instruct the brigades of seamen which 
work the boat and other gear. Rewards and 
medals are given for saving life at sea, and four 
money prizes are awarded annually, one of which 
was founded by the King and others under the 
will of Mons. Emile Robin, by which the life- 
saving services of so many countries sub- 
stantially benefited. 

The Society is now urging the necessity of 
increased funds for the purposes of providing 
motors of the most modern description in some 
of the fleet. The president of the Japanese 
Society chose Spanish models upon which to 
found the organisation in that country, a fact 


of which the Madrid Society cannot fail to be 

Up to 1907, 1134 lives had been saved by the 
boats of the Society. 


We first hear of Portugal in connection with 
life-boat work so long ago as 1798. After 
Greathead had built the first of the " Shields " 
life-boats, the Duke of Northumberland ordered 
two to be constructed on the same model at 
his own personal cost. One of these he pre- 
sented to the town of North Shields and the 
other to Oporto, for use at the mouth of the 
River Douro. The gift was an exemplary one, 
and evidently the Portuguese Government re- 
cognised its obligations to the shipwrecked 
mariner, for fifty years later we learn that it 
purchased the first tubular life-boat. This boat 
was the experimental one which the Messrs. 
Richardson built to the model which they had 
exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851. 

The Society which at present controls the 
fortunes of the Portuguese life-boat service was 
founded in 1892. On the 21st of April of that 
year it came into being as the Royal Institution 
for the Rescue of the Shipwrecked, under the 


presidency of Queen Amelia. A terrific storm 
had swept the coasts on the previous 27th of 
February, and the Society still administers a 
special fund raised for the assistance of the 
families of those who perished. By the end 
of the year 1900 nineteen stations had been 
established, with boats at eighteen of them. 
Eleven were provided with apparatus for firing 
a line over a wreck. The Society was re- 
organised by a State decree of the 18th of June 
1901, and since then it has received an annual 
subsidy of 1250. The bulk of its income, 
however, is from voluntary subscriptions. By 
1902 the fleet had increased to twenty-one ; 
two more vessels were added in the following 
year ; and now there are in all twenty-eight 
life-boats. The number of stations is thirty-six, 
and of these twenty-one are equipped with 
line-carrying guns mounted on carriages, two 
have the apparatus only, and at seven there 
are hand guns for the same purpose. 

The boats are in many cases of the English 
self-righting type, and were built in this country. 
There are three of the Henry type, which were 
ordered in 1905. These light double-ended 
craft are mentioned in our section dealing with 
the French service. One of these is fitted 
with a motor, and is stationed at the mouth of 
the Duoro, near Oporto. 


Another boat with motor power is at Cascaes, 
near Lisbon. These were provided in 1909. 

The Portuguese life-boat men, both captains 
and crews, are exempt from the whole of their 
military service, provided that they have served 
more than four consecutive years in the boat 
belonging to the Society. They are paid, for 
each service, awards varying according to cir- 
cumstances and the risks incurred. Pensions 
are given to the widows of those lost on duty, 
and various rewards and medals are given, as 
in other countries, for saving life at sea. 

From its foundation in 1892 until 1909 the 
number of lives saved by the boats and gear of 
the Society was 4087. 

Of the remaining countries on the Mediter- 
ranean seaboard there is but little to say. 

France is gradually providing an adequate 
service on the coast of Algeria and Tunis, and 
it also includes Corsica in the sphere of its 
operations. Spain provides a boat at Palma, 
in Mallorca. In Italy the Mercantile Marine 
Code intrusts to the " Autorita Maritime " the 
provision of appliances for the assistance of 
those shipwrecked on the coasts. With the 
intention of co-operating with the authority, 
a private society was founded some time ago 
called the " Italian Society for the Aid of the 
Shipwrecked." It established certain life-saving 


stations at perilous points on the coast. At 
the beginning of 1911 it announced its intention 
of handing over the life-saving service to a new 
and more important organisation. 

In Austria the pilots of the principal ports 
are provided with proper life-saving apparatus, 
and are able to deal with any emergency; 
but there is no life-saving service according to 
English ideas. 

Greece has no established national service. 

In the Ottoman Empire a service was 
established in 1869. It is supported by the 
dues upon shipping, and is partially under 
European control. It is governed by an inter- 
national board, composed of delegates from the 
various embassies, together with one Ottoman 
member. The service is divided into two districts 
one on the European and the other on the 
Asiatic coast. Each of these is controlled by 
a British instructor. The remainder of the 
personnel is Turkish. In 1880, when the service 
was reorganised, it possessed one wooden light- 
ship and sixteen buildings, of which many were 
in ruins. Now it has 15 principal stations and 
numerous intermediate posts. The life-boats, 
11 in number, are insubmersible, and there are 
18 other small vessels. The lightship, which 
is stationed 15 miles from the mouth of the 
Bosphorus, has two English officers. 



As this chapter summarises the remaining life- 
boat services of the world, it is necessary to say 
a few words of preliminary explanation. It 
must be borne in mind that, when we say that 
in any country there is no organised service, it 
merely implies that there is no service founded 
on national lines as in this country, or con- 
trolled by the State as in Belgium or Denmark. 
Because there is no such national establishment, 
it does not follow that the inhabitants of the 
country in question have neglected their ob- 
ligations to the shipwrecked mariner, or that 
their coasts are not amply watched and warded 
by other means. In the same way when we 
make mention of efforts which might appear 
inadequate in view of a long and dangerous 
coast-line, it does not mean necessarily that 
nothing more is done. 

As we have already seen, the great societies 
have often owed their formation to the smaller 



associations which existed previously. Their in- 
ception has been due to the palpable necessity 
for uniform effort and single control. However, 
from the history of the movement in our own 
country alone, it is abundantly clear that many 
and variously organised bodies still exist which 
provide life-boats and work them on their own 
approved methods. So long, therefore, as such 
individual efforts are made and that will be 
always it is impossible to content ourselves 
with any sweeping assertions, or to presume 
that any shore is left entirely unguarded. 

The difficulty is to trace the whereabouts of 
such organisations, especially in remote corners of 
the globe ; and some of them are in very remote 
corners indeed. In fact, I doubt whether it 
would be possible to compile a complete list of 
every life-boat in existence, unless one were to 
undertake a perambulation of the inhabited 
coasts of the whole world. All that one can do 
is to make inquiries in every likely quarter, 
and to accept the disclaimers with great reserve 
of those countries which profess to provide no 
life-saving facilities. 

As a case in point, I had high authority for 
stating that there is no life-boat service in New 
Zealand, and yet I am able to give particulars 
of a very active and efficient station in that 


Furthermore, although we have had plenty 
to say about rocket apparatus and line-carry- 
ing guns, we have not set out to give any 
detailed particulars of their employment gener- 
ally. There are many places where such-like gear 
is established in lieu of more costly and more 
elaborate appliances. Even the provision of life- 
buoys is a step in the right direction, and in some 
cases it may be the most suitable step to take. 

After this preface we can proceed to the 
description of our own colonial life-boat services 
with confidence that due allowance will be made 
for any unavoidable omissions. We will begin with 
that which is, without doubt, the largest and the 
most efficient. 


The Canadian life-boat service is organised 
and supported by the Dominion Government, 
and its control is included in the duties of 
the Marine and Fisheries Department. It was 
founded in 1880, and now provides thirty-four 
life-saving stations on the coast and on the 
Great Lakes. These are located at points where 
navigation is peculiarly hazardous, three being 
allotted to New Brunswick, thirteen to Nova 
Scotia, three to Prince Edward's Island, and 
four to British Columbia. On the lakes in 
Ontario there are eleven stations. 


ach of these stations is in charge of a 
coxswain, whose position is a responsible one. 
He must, therefore, be a man of some education, 
capable not only of managing his boats, but of 
instructing his crew, and he must be acquainted 
with the coast embraced within his district. 
He is in receipt of an allowance of 15 per 
annum, and 8s. in addition for every one of the 
fourteen annual drills, and is further remunerated 
for actual service in the case of shipwreck. 
He selects his own crew to the number of six, 
besides himself, and these men are chosen from 
among the able-bodied and experienced boatmen 
residing near the station. They are paid, as a 
rule, 8s. for each of the fourteen drills and extra 
for service launches. As in the United States, 
the stations are not open throughout the whole 
year, but are only in full operation during the 
season of navigation. The Long Point station, 
however, on Lake Erie, is kept open two or 
three months longer than the others, and the 
men are remunerated accordingly. 

The vessels employed are nearly all surf -boats 
of the Beebe-McLellan self-bailing type, and of 
these the department possesses eighteen. The 
greater number of them are 25-foot boats 
of simple construction, as may be judged 
from the fact that their average cost is 
only 50. There are three of Doherty's im- 


proved Beebe-McLellan's and eleven of Dobbin's 
pattern of self-righting and self -bailing boats. 
The remaining four are surf-boats. It may be 
noted that on some stations there is more 
than one boat. At Banfield, B.C., there was 
stationed a self-righting, self-bailing, power life- 
boat, 36 feet in length. Unfortunately, how- 
ever, she broke from her moorings last year 
and became a total wreck. 

The stations at St. Paul's and Sable Islands 
are under the control of the respective humane 
establishments in those places, and these are in 
a particularly high state of efficiency. 

In addition to the State service there are 
certain life - saving services which are not 
regularly organised and which receive support 
from the Dominion Government. These are 
at Halifax, N.S., Cape Tormentine, N.B., and 
Wellington, on Lake Ontario. There is also a 
station at Victoria, B.C., that is maintained by 
the Victoria Life-Saving Association. In view, 
however, of Canada's immense coast-line and 
ever increasing coastal trade, it is very evident 
that much still remains to be done. The 
efficiency of the service is increased annually, 
but it is as yet by no means adequate. 

Figures are uninteresting, but it is necessary 
to quote a few in order that we may be able to 
form an opinion upon the vexed question of a 


State versus a voluntary service. We may say, 
therefore, that the recent average annual ex- 
penditure upon the Canadian life-saving service 
is about 5000. The boats used cost from 45 
to 155 each, and the houses are built and 
equipped at a total expenditure of about 120. 
Several of these are provided with iron rails to 
assist in launching the boat, and at one station 
a regular tramway is laid. 

In our Australian Colonies the provision of 
life-boats is not at present undertaken by the 
Commonwealth, and the existing stations and 
services are variously controlled. 


The early maritime history of South Australia 
recorded so many disasters that it was soon 
recognised that an efficient life-saving service 
was essential. Life-boats, rockets, and other 
apparatus were, therefore, provided at points of 
especial danger. At first the control was vested 
in the Marine Board, it then passed into the 
hands of the Naval Department, and now the 
Marine Board has again assumed the responsi- 
bility. This second change was brought about 
in 1909, when the Naval Department was trans- 
ferred to the Commonwealth. 


South Australia now possesses three life- 
boats. The first, the City of Adelaide, is stationed 
at Beachport. She was originally fitted with 
steam propulsion on the suction principle, but 
this system was found to be unsatisfactory, owing 
to the large amount of kelp which flourishes in 
these waters. The boat has, therefore, been 
now provided with a 40 h.p. petrol motor, 
operating an ordinary screw propeller. She 
has also been fitted with electricity throughout, 
and is now a highly efficient and capable vessel. 
The second boat, the Undaunted, stationed at 
Port MacDonnell, was built at Largs in 1908. 
She is a self-righter, and is considered to be a 
perfect specimen of her type. The Lady Daly, 
stationed at Port Victor, is a large and heavy 
vessel, requiring a strong crew to handle her 
safely. She is, therefore, to be provided with 
engines similar to those in the City of Adelaide. 
The total cost to the colony for the upkeep, 
repairs, and stores, for these three vessels is a 
little under 1000 annually. The headquarters 
of the service are at Glanville. 


The seaboard of this colony is particularly 
free from dangers to navigation, and wrecks are 
of very rare occurrence. There are two life-boats, 


properly so called, one of which is stationed at 
Sydney Heads and the other at Newcastle. In 
addition, the whale-boats at the pilot stations 
along the coast are suitably fitted for life-saving 
if their services are required. There are also 
proper appliances provided at certain points. 

In neither Victoria, Western Australia, 
Queensland, nor New Zealand is there any 
organised life-boat service as understood in this 
country. The Royal Humane Society of Aus- 
tralia, however, has made provision of life- 
buoys, etc., at many places in Australia and Fiji, 
and there are life-boats at six of the twenty- 
four rocket stations on the Victorian Coast. 

Sumner, Selwyn County, New Zealand, affords 
a good example of what can be done by 
private effort. This little town is on the South 
Island, eight miles from Christchurch. A boat 
is provided of the whale-boat type, which is 
manned by a crew of thirteen. The neighbour- 
ing coast is dangerous, and the Rescue, as she is 
called, has been instrumental in saving many 
lives. Strahan, in Tasmania, possesses one life- 

Turning to our other Colonies, we have little 
further to say. Neither in South Africa nor in 
India are there services organised on national 
lines. At Table Bay life-boats are stationed 
under the control of the Port Advisory Board, 


and that they are up to date and efficient is 
proved by the fact that those in authority are 
contemplating the adoption of the newest form 
of motor life-boats. There are fifteen rocket 
stations altogether in South Africa, and six 

The Royal National Life-Boat Institution 
provides stations in the British Isles alone ; but 
it has two in the Channel Islands, one at St. 
Heliers, Jersey, and one at St. Peter Port. 

Outside Europe we do not hear of many 
foreign services of importance. The most ex- 
tensive, perhaps, is that of Japan. It was 
founded in 1889, under the name of the Imperial 
Japanese Society for Saving and Succouring 
the Shipwrecked. It is supported by voluntary 
subscription, with an annual State subsidy of 
about 2000. The headquarters are at Tokio. 
In June 1903, Count de Yashu, the President, 
notified the Royal Spanish Society for the 
Rescue of the Shipwrecked that it had been 
decided to model the Japanese service on 
Spanish lines. The Society gives medals for 
life-saving at sea. 

Chili has a life-boat society working from 
Valparaiso called the Sociedad de Salvavidas. 
It is supported by voluntary contributions, but 
the Government has provided it recently with 
a house and pays it annual grants. 



In Brazil there is a similar organisation 
called the Sociedade Protectora dos Homens do 
Mar. It has one regular life-boat station at Rio 
de Janeiro and another at Barro do Rio Grande 
do Sul. In the other ports assistance is rendered, 
when necessary, by the harbour masters, who 
make use of steam tugs and any other suitable 
vessels available to cope with any emergency. 

Peru has no organised service, nor has 
Uruguay ; but the latter country has a good 
salvage service with powerful steam tugs, which 
are sufficient to render any assistance which may 
be required either on the River Plate or on the 

A life-boat stationed at Gibraltar did good 
work recently on the occasion of the wreck of 
the s.s. Delhi on Cape Spartel. She was, how- 
ever, badly injured by the heavy seas. 



FOR the past hundred and fifty years the life-boat 
has been a source of unbounded joy to a host 
of inventors. Nothing could afford them such 
scope for their imagination ; nothing could be 
easier to test in miniature ; and nothing, under 
such conditions, could be relied upon to come 
through its trials with such cheap but unlimited 

A nice little model life-boat will generally 
comport itself to perfection in the smooth 
waters of a pond or a bath-tub. Even when 
the liquid is violently agitated the tiny boat 
will retain her equilibrium, and she will take the 
ground without the slightest dent or damage. 
Before the days of photography, too, it was easy 
to show what she could do under the most 
strenuous conditions. You had only to draw 
her to full size and surround her with horrific 
combers add a sinking ship or two upon the 
horizon, and you could make even yourself 

believe that she could perform wonders. 



Unfortunately for the ultimate success of 
these discoveries, a really practicable life-boat is 
just about the hardest thing to invent that could 
possibly be imagined. Landsmen, too, are especi- 
ally handicapped ; and, judging by some of the 
designs that are still extant, one cannot believe 
that they were concocted by anybody that had 
ever seen the sea at all. Once you start planning 
a life-boat, you have to begin by sacrificing in 
one way in order to gain in another. The form 
of an ordinary boat has been evolved through 
century after century until it is perfect so 
far as it goes. Directly you add an improve- 
ment, you must strike the balance by losing 
an essential. 

The story of the tubular boat is a case in point ; 
the tubular boat is the only vessel that has ever 
been put to continued use out of a host of "freak" 
inventions. She is so built that she cannot 
capsize or sink ; but, by the same token, she 
can neither sail into the wind nor protect her 
men from cruel exposure. 

Even with the self-righter itself, it has taken 
years of trial and experience in order to strike 
the proper balance between the righting prin- 
ciple and the stability. For a weatherly, able 
boat beam is essential, but beam is a hind- 
rance to her returning to an even keel when 


Nowadays we do not hear so much about 
patent life-boats. No doubt inventors are at 
last waking up to the fact that they cannot sit 
down and draw on paper a boat equal to that 
which has taken more than a hundred years in the 
making. In the early days, however, they had 
no such scruples, and some of their schemes reflect 
more credit upon their imagination than their 
sense of humour. In describing a few of the 
most noted, I refrain from commenting upon 
their merits or demerits for the purpose for which 
they were intended. Probably the greater number 
of them were never tried at all, and even those 
which stood a practical test have failed event- 
ually to justify their claims to notice. 

To begin with, Wilson's boat, the earliest 
which we can describe, was of sound, wholesome 
model. Evidently the Society of Arts thought 
so too, for it awarded Christopher Wilson a gold 
medal in 1807. It was called a " neutral built, 
self-balanced boat," and its specific feature was 
an air space between an inner and an outer skin. 
In shape it was like an ordinary square- sterned 
dinghy. One of these boats was built and placed 
at Newhaven. 

In 1810 a Mr. Brunner obtained an award 
from the same Society for a method of turning 
a boat into a life-boat by lashing casks in stem 
and stern. 

[By permission of the Royal Humane Society, 


{By permission of the Rnyal Humane Society, 


A Captain Bray was rewarded for the designs 
of a boat to which reserve buoyancy was im- 
parted by air-boxes beneath the thwarts and 
similar boxes lashed loosely along the gunwale 
outside. These latter apparently swung out 
like wings, and must have been a serious draw- 
back in getting alongside a wreck. Probably, 
however, the gallant captain had no experience 
of them under such conditions. 

In 1819, Lieutenant Rodger, R.N., was the 
recipient of the gold medal of the Society of 
Arts in recognition of his having invented a 
life-raft. (See Fig. 59.) Subsequently he placed 
it in the hands of the Royal Humane Society. 
It was intended to be constructed on a ship's 
deck, and materials only were utilised which 
might be found aboard a ship. Its constituent 
parts were four butts or other casks, six pairs 
of slings, eight capstan bars, three gratings, and 
four handspikes. These were lashed together 
as shown in the illustration, and the whole 
structure was calculated to be equal to carry- 
ing thirty men ; but, as the inventor remarks, 
' I would not recommend it for more than 

In 1883, trials were held at Dover of two 
vessels, a raft, and a boat, that were similarly 
constructed of common objects of a ship's 
equipment. The first ' was said to be a raft. 


I say " said to be " advisedly, for it was about 
as much like a raft as a bird's nest. Its essential 
feature was a beer cask with the head knocked 
out, and nothing else was required but one or 
two oars and some flat pieces of wood. No 
doubt beer casks are common enough on some 
ships, but, as a rule, the bottled variety is more 
popular at sea. However, this is a trifling 
matter. The " boat " consisted of an empty 
brandy case, the bottom board of a bunk, and 
four yards of canvas. This was a far more 
elaborate structure than the raft, as was consistent 
with the more aristocratic brandy case. It had 
paddle-wheels, each evolved from the half of a 
ten-gallon oil-can, which were rendered water- 
tight, and provided with floats made of the 
discarded cigar-boxes of these sybaritic sailor- 
men. How, in an emergency, one sets to work 
to cut a ten-gallon oil-can in half, the inventor 
does not say. However, he meant to cross 
the Channel in this contraption ; that he 
ever got beyond meaning I have failed to 

Captain Manby, the famous inventor of the 
mortar apparatus, turned his attention in the 
year 1821 to the construction of a form of life- 
boat. (Fig. 60.) His very unfavourable im- 
pression of the existing life-boats, which we 
have already quoted, induced him to suggest a 


simple and inexpensive mode of giving to boats, 
of whatever size and construction, the principle 
of the life-boat. He thus describes his system : 
" Empty casks," he says, " were lashed and 
secured in the boat to give it buoyancy, not- 
withstanding immersion ; and, to keep it in 
an upright position, while launching from a 
flat shore, or while beaching again, it was fitted 
with billage boards of equal depth with the 
keel. A piece of iron or lead was let into or 
made fast to the outside of the keel, which 
operated, if by any accident the boat was upset, 
to bring it instantly right again. A stout rope, 
with what is called a mouse by the riggers, on 
different parts at intervals of it, was carried 
round the gunwale, the stem, and the stern, 
and protected it from the ship's side, while 
lowering or when driven with violence by the 
waves against the vessel to which it went with 
assistance. The casks for this service should 
be strong and perfectly staunch. Those which 
have contained oil are to be preferred, for, 
saturated with that fluid, there is less reason 
to fear the admission of water from the con- 
tractions of the staves by the heat of a warm 
climate. It will be prudent to have them every 
year repainted or smeared with tar. 

"If the boat, thus fitted, should fill, no 
more is necessary than to pull the plug out, and 


the boat, rising from its less specific gravity, 
will let all the water through at the plug 

In 1839 a Mr. Macintosh of New York in- 
vented a Macintosh life-boat. It was made 
of canvas, rendered impervious to water by 
being saturated with a solution of indiarubber. 

A Mr. Holcroft constructed a sort of pontoon 
or raft of a similar material on a light frame- 
work that would fold up into a very small 

In the year 1851 the life-boat inventor was 
in his glory. The Duke of Northumberland's 
competition gave him a grand opportunity of 
airing his genius. The Guide to the Great Ex- 
hibition gives particulars of some of the choicest 
specimens. The " Infallible Life-Boat " was 
described as a " whimsical construction," en- 
tirely open at the bottom, and made, indeed, 
exactly after the same fashion bottom and top. 
It was certainly infallible, because it must always 
have been either infallibly right way up or in- 
fallibly wrong way up according to choice. As 
to its whimsicality we need have no doubts 
at all. 

Holbrook's iron bottomless life-boat was 
another on the same principle. It was made 
entirely of wrought and sheet iron, covered 
and lined^with strong netting ; why it is difficult 


to say, unless it was to avoid losing the bits if 
it got broken. It had six " floaters " of sheet 
iron fitted with tubing formed into air and 
waterproof barrels (sic) with tanks for 222 
gallons of fresh water ; provisions, warm cloth- 
ing, compass, alarm apparatus, fuel, fireworks, 
rockets, and 1000 feet of line, and in the figure- 
head " a kettle that will boil in ten minutes." 
Really it was a most luxurious craft ! 

This wonderful boat was secured with 400 
screws and 10,000 rivets, and weighed only one 
ton. It carried nearly 150 persons and food for 
many days, not to mention all that hot and 
cold water ! As the writer naively remarked : 
" Having no bottom, this boat can scarcely 

Another specimen, a " Land's End Life-Boat," 
\vas open to the water underneath ; she was 
remarkable for the " horizontal cuts or longi- 
tudinal openings, like loopholes, piercing her 
sides in continuous lines." 

Bonney's life-boat was a much more practical 
proposition. It was double-skinned, with water- 
tight compartments, and could sail when full of 

The specification of Skinner's Aberdeen 
4 Momentary-Motion Life-Boat " is as obscure 
as its title. The spelling and syntax are the 
inventor's, not my own. 


" It possesses the self-righting power under 
all interruptions. Allowing 65 1 Ib. as the 
weight per cubic foot sustained by this or other 
airtight vessel, a boat of 247 cubic feet will 
float a greater number than such boat can 
contain ; and the same buoyancy is maintained, 
however placed. When inverted, the boat will 
float on her fore and aft air-cases, this prevent- 
ing the contact of midship gunwale with water, 
whereby little water is left to displace." 

I thought I understood this until I came 
to the midship gunwale, after that I gave it 
up. To quote Skinner's own words, it seems 
to imply a greater number of gunwales than 
" such a boat can contain." 

Dyne's life-boat was built with diagonal 
battens laid lattice- wise ; its outer sheathing 
was formed of gutta-percha, and its buoyancy 
was 350 cubic feet of air capable of sustaining 
upwards of 9J tons. It let off shipped water 
by 3600 holes. In the convex bottom were 
three perforated steadying fins, and between 
them two tons of water, " not one ounce weight 
to the boat when upright." There were also 
galvanised springs placed at the stem " to act 
like railway buffers in collision ; besides fusees, 
rockets, and other lights." 

If this boat had no other claims to the 
notice of posterity, it, at any rate, held the record 


for the number of holes 3600 and that not 
counting the perforations in its fins. 

A Mr. Hely exhibited a catamaran or life- 
boat as well as a salvage-boat wholly formed 
of metal tubes serving as " atmospheric and 
hydraulic chambers with loaded keel and self- 
righting wheels." This specification again is 
somewhat obscure. 

There was a Whitby life-boat exhibited 
capable of emptying hersejf of water in four 
seconds by two apertures in the bottom. This 
suggests a pretty calculation as to how quickly 
Mr. Dyne's life-boat would empty herself with 
3600 apertures similarly situated. 

After all these really remarkable vessels it 
comes quite as a relief to hit upon the following : 
-"The Patent Collapsible life-boat was ex- 
hibited by the Rev. E. L. Berthon . . . they 
are always ready for use, ' frapped to under the 
davits,' and on casting off the gasketts, the 
boat flies open and takes into the fore and aft 
cells a large supply of air." 

In an entirely different department of the 
Exhibition was shown Anderson's life-boat which, 
judging by the model and specification, must 
have been a really sound and wholesome vessel. 
She had high rounded ends like a Shields boat, 
and air compartments all round her. With 

i'our tubes she could empty herself in one 


minute, and she carried water ballast in a well 
that filled automatically. What, however, is far 
more to the point is that she had been severely 
tested in heavy broken water on the sands 
at the entrance to the Tyne, and with perfect 

In 1875, Anderson and Buckinshaw of Bridling- 
ton Quay produced a reversible life-boat which 
could sail either way, and, since all her canvas 
reversed, she did not have to be " exposed 
to a beam sea in going about." Probably this 
was the same firm as that which exhibited 
in 1851. 

Among other weird craft shown at the Ex- 
hibition were double-bottomed and even triple- 
bottomed boats boats with two keels and boats 
with three, boats on wheels and boats on rollers. 
One, more ambitious than the rest, was built of 
wickerwork covered with canvas, and could be 
herself rolled along the beach and opened out 
at the scene of the disaster. 

In 1867 a really practical life-craft was 
invented ; at any rate she proved her worth 
by sailing across the Atlantic. She was called 
the Nonpareil, and consisted of three cylinders 
laid parallel and decked. She was rigged with 
two masts and sails, and was some 30 feet 
in length. 

A Mr. Wood, Collector of Customs for the 

[Photo, Gibson &> Sons, Penzance, 




port of Harwich, submitted to the Admiralty 
in 1870 the plans of a practicable life-raft. 
He afterwards presented the public with it 
for the common good. It was triangular in 
shape and constructed of wood, cork, and rope 
netting. It had the advantage of being handy, 
and could be easily hauled to and fro between a 
wreck and the shore. 

Cook's life-raft was similar to that of 
Lieutenant Rodgers. 

Light's life-boat depended for its buoyancy 
upon a patent material of his invention. He 
claimed that a vessel built of it would, in the 
event of its going to pieces, become so many 
separate life-buoys. This substance was either 
to be used as a packing to impart to ships and 
boats an excess of buoyancy, or it was to be 
employed as a building material itself. Three 
boats constructed fiom it entirely were furnished 
to Captain Ross for his Polar expedition by 
the order of the Admiralty. These, however, 
were ship's life-boats, and as such are really 
beyond our scope. Still we cannot ignore ship's 
life-boats altogether, and we give an illustration 
of one which has the additional claim of historical 
interest. It was washed ashore from the ill- 
fated Mohegan, wrecked on the Manacles Rocks. 
The vessel herself can be seen in the distance, 
or rather her masts and funnel. The condition 


of this boat bears witness to the immense 
amount of battering that a steel life-boat of 
the kind will stand. 

A description of the types and patterns of 
ship's life-boats would be, as we say, outside 
our range, even if we were to confine our 
attention to those which are practicable. To 
include the visionary and more or less useless 
specimens would be a task of a magnitude that 
is beyond us altogether. 

Of course, even nowadays the Institution 
has many schemes propounded to its officials 
whereby the life-boat may be made perfect 
at a minimum of cost and trouble. The methods 
proposed for self-righting alone are without 
number. One design relied upon five round 
shot placed in the bilge in such a way that 
they would roll from side to side against a spiral 
spring. Another made a feature of a suspended 
weight, which was used in conjunction with the 
usual high end-boxes of the practical designs. 

Very frequently boats are planned in which 
the crew is supposed to get inside, as it were, 
and pull down the blinds. That is to say, they 
are in the form of hollow chambers, with a small 
hatch which is hermetically closed when all 
the passengers are aboard. For some purposes 
such a boat may be of service, but it is quite 
clear that for coastal work you might as well, 


like the wise men of Gotham, go to sea in a tub, 
and do the necessary work of the ship through 
the bung-hole. Only a few years ago a boat 
of the kind was invented, which bade fair to 
achieve some measure of success, but she was 
intended as a ship's life-boat only. 

Means of ejecting surplus water and of self- 
baling are frequently propounded ; but, if the 
inventors would only study the simple and 
almost perfect relieving-tube now in use, they 
would probably be speedily convinced that their 
efforts in this direction are rather futile. 

It is the same with mechanical means of 
propulsion. Except where the power is em- 
ployed of a steam-engine or a motor, there is 
nothing that can equal an oar for handiness and 
general utility. Why suggest screws or paddle- 
wheels to be driven by manual exertion, when 
e greatest drawback to a power-propelled 
oat is in its propeller ? What is wanted is 
rather a power boat that will do without a 
screw than a rowing boat that can dispense with 

The raft, of course, is being continually 
vented in forms innumerable. Ever since 
e earliest times there have been navigators 
ho have preferred this type of vessel, in theory, 
any other. It is when you get afloat on a 
t that you discover its weak points ; for, 


design it as you will, it can never be a handy 
craft to windward. Even in the Odyssey Homer 
describes the construction of a raft built by 
Ulysses on a most elaborate scale " floating 
timber was cut down and carefully shaped and 
planed ; the timbers were fitted face to face 
and compacted with trenails and dowels, and a 
platform was raised with a bulwark of osiers." 
However, we are not going to set out to trace 
the development of the raft. The above is one 
of its earliest forms, its latest and most practical 
is Richardson's tubular life-boat, which we 
have already described. Certainly Holbrook's 
was more elaborate with its figureheads and 
hot water, but, take it all round, I would 
sooner go to sea in the other. 

A practical safety raft, which we have 
omitted to describe, was that of Mr. Boyce ; at 
least we presume that it was practical in that 
it was awarded ten guineas and a silver medal 
by the Society of Arts in 1814. It was com- 
posed of two hollow wooden cylinders made 
airtight or filled with cork and connected by a 
wooden grating so as to form a raft. 

We will conclude our list with what must 
have been the most amazing freak of all. It 
was no less than one boat suspended within 
another and propelled by a screw worked by 
six men. Why the inventor should have evolved 



such an extraordinary contrivance I am at a 
loss to suggest. One has heard of a similar 
appliance to prevent sea-sickness, but one would 
think that sea-sickness would be the last thing 
to worry a shipwrecked sailor. 



THE history of the rocket apparatus is so inter- 
woven with that of the life-boat that no apology 
is needed for introducing it as part and parcel 
of the same story. In most foreign countries 
the rocket or mortar apparatus and the life- 
boat are under identical control, and in Eng- 
land the Institution provided the mortar gear 
to certain stations during the early years of 
its existence. Nowadays our rocket service 
is under other auspices, but the two methods of 
life-saving work necessarily hand-in-hand. 

We have already described a number of 
suggestions for aiding the shipwrecked, most 
of them more or less impracticable. Now, 
however, we come to a method which is in actual 
use throughout the world ; in fact the rocket 
apparatus is to-day doing good service where 
life-boats are unheard of. The first foreshadow- 
ings of the present system were the simul- 
taneous experiments, in 1796, of an English 

artilleryman, Sergeant Bell, and a Frenchman, 



La Fere. They both met with considerable 
success, but Bell's method was condemned 
because it merely propelled a line from ship 
to shore instead of from shore to ship. This 
alleged objection is worthy of note, in view 
of the agitation during recent years for some 
practicable method of carrying a line ashore. 
It is beginning now to be recognised that, if a 
ship is driven on to the rocks, the chances are 
that there is an onshore wind. We hear nothing 
more of these two inventions, but there can be 
no doubt that to Bell and La Fere must be 
accorded the credit of having first originated 

Ee idea. 
It was Captain Manby, however, who turned 
eory into practice. George William Manby 
was born in 1765 near Dereham Market in 
Norfolk. He was educated for the Army, served 
seven years in the militia, and was eventually 
appointed Barrack-Master at Yarmouth. It is 
a remarkable fact that most of the inventors 
whose names occur in connection with the 
mortar and rocket apparatus were soldiers. 
[t is evidently a method of life-saving that 
appeals especially to the military mind. 

In February 1807 occurred a wreck on 
Yarmouth beach, when there was grave loss 
of life in full view of the helpless spectators, 
'he gun-brig Snipe was the vessel involved, and 


sixty of her crew were drowned. Manby had ex- 
perimented already with the conveyance of a 
line by gunfire, and this occurrence induced 
him to set to work in earnest. He borrowed 
a mortar from the authorities, attached a 
line to the half of a chain shot, and practised 
firing it towards the sea. Gradually he evolved 
the details of his apparatus, and, having proved 
its utility to the Suffolk Humane Society, he 
established the first station at Yarmouth. In 
the following year he saved seven lives from a 
wreck, and, encouraged by his success, he ap- 
proached the Board of Trade. 

The Navy Board took the matter up and 
supplied the gear to various stations, where 
they were watched by the coastguard assisted 
by volunteers. Tw r o years later a Committee 
of the House of Commons examined the method 
and reported upon it favourably. By 1814 
it was in use at forty-five places, and during 
the following ten years it saved over two 
hundred lives Manby was rewarded in 1823 
by a grant of 2000, and was later made a 
Fellow of the Royal Society. 

In 1822 the Royal Humane Society published 
a full report upon the apparatus, which is parti- 
cularly interesting, since it is stated in Captain 
Manby's own words. It is too long to quote 
at length, but we give a few essential extracts. 

Representation <>/ tti>- Mortar* ,S'//o/, and Line, prepared for 
' a Communication, 

The mortars, for the pur- 
pose of throwing the shot 
with the line attached to it, 
over the wrecked vessel, should 
be as light as is compatible 
with the service to be per- 
formed by them. 

63. i. MAM.-, 

J. Mil. M.k TAR. 

M \M.V'> I II I.-. OT. 

attain Mtinhys original designs, by permission of the Royal Humane Society. 


" An iron mortar," he states, " cast on its 
bed and weighing with its bed 2J cwt. (which 
may be removed from place to place by two 
men on a hand-barrow with ease) will project 
a 24 Ib. shot, with a IJ-inch rope attached 
to it, 250 yards, or a deep-sea line, 320 yards, 
against the utmost power of the wind. 

" A mortar of this size is of sufficient power 
to project a shot carrying out with it a rope 
strong enough to haul off a boat by from the 
shore to the vessel a service of the greatest 
importance, as it sometimes happens that the 
crew are so benumbed by cold, or exhausted 
by fatigue, as to be unable to move a limb in 
their own assistance. 

4 The shots designed for giving relief are of 
two kinds. The first, merely for the purpose 
of gaining communication, is made by inserting 
a jagged bar of iron, with an eye at the top, 
into a hollow iron sphere, which is then filled 
with boiling lead ; or by the same bar in a solid 
iron ball, which has had a hole drilled through 
it for the purpose, taking care that the bar is 
well clenched at the bottom of the shot. 

" The second is a shot furnished with barbs 
>r the purpose of catching and securely holding 
>me part of the rigging or hull of the stranded 

" To connect the rope to the shot and prevent 


it from being burned by the powerful inflam- 
mation at the discharge of the mortar, was most 
essentially necessary, and success the result 
of innumerable experiments. Chains in every 
variety of form and size broke, and proved 
that not only strength, flexibility, and elasticity, 
but a body at once continuous and entire was 
required. At length some stout strips of hide, 
plaited extremely close at the eye, happily 
effected the object so indispensably wanted. 

;c No branch of the service demands more 
nicety and attention than the mode of laying 
the rope in readiness to be carried out by the 
shot. If the beach be even and free from large 
stones, it may be thus laid with certainty in 
compartments. The length of the fakes must 
not exceed two yards, as the rope, when laid 
in fakes of greater length, is likely to be broken 
by the proportionably increased vibration. 
When the experiment was made with the rope 
laid in fakes of several yards long it never 
failed to break. 

" The nicest care should also be taken to 
remove everything from the beach likely to be 
an impediment to the free issue of the rope. If 
with these precautions a good and well- stretched 
rope be used, communication will never be 

He goes on to give details of a way of per- 


manently coiling the rope so that it can be 
carried from place to place and yet be ready for 
instant use. 

As to his method of bringing the shipwrecked 
crew ashore, he describes it as follows : 

" When circumstances will permit, a boat 
hauled off by the rope thrown from the mortar 
is the method most to be relied on as the most 

frompt and certain mode of relief fom a beach. 
" Another mode of bringing the crew on 
shore, after communication is once gained, is 
by a basket or cot. 

' This should be made buoyant by corks or 
kegs of air. But, where the coast is extremely 
rocky, or the beach very rugged, it will be 
necessary to protect the person coming to the 
shore from injury when dashed by the violence 
of the sea against the side of a cliff or beach ; 
this will effectually be prevented, as well as the 
iger of drowning, by a hammock stuffed with 
>rk shavings ; buoyant jackets may be made 
i pun this principle at the expense of a very 
jw shillings." 

In the event of both these methods being 
ipracticablc, he recommended dragging the 
crew ashore in a grummet or ring of rope, or 
with a rope merely tied round the waist 
>f each man. He acknowledges this to be a 
terrible alternative, but gives particulars of 


saving fourteen men, a boy, and a girl by this 
strenuous device. 

In order to enable the shipwrecked mariner 
to follow the course of his shell at night, Manby 
invented a sort of firework attachment. He 
also proposed the use of a shell which belched 
forth flames as it travelled through the air. It 
was a fearsome-looking contrivance, calculated 
to strike terror into the heart of the boldest 
even amid much more cheerful surroundings. 

The first rocket apparatus was invented 
by a Mr. Trengrouse of Helston in 1821. It had 
faults of a practical nature and was never used. 
In 1832, John Dennett succeeded in making a 
rocket that would carry a line for 250 yards, and 
two years later the Board of Customs adopted it. 
It was supplied to four places in the Isle of Wight. 
Various improvements were suggested by the in- 
ventor and others, but no one of them was of any 
value until it occurred to a Colonel Boxer to put 
two rockets into one tube, so that the one was 
fired by the other and gave it a further impetus. 

The breeches-buoy for use with the rocket 
gear was invented by a Lieutenant Kisbee. 

The management of the rocket and mortar 
apparatus was practically in the hands of the 
Royal National Institution for Saving Life from 
Shipwreck (The Royal National Life-Boat In- 
stitution) during these early years, and it was 



supplied by them to many stations. In other 
places it was worked by preventive men or by 
private societies. In 1854 the Merchant Shipping 
Act provided for its control by the Board of 
Trade. It was taken over by that body in 
1855, and has been worked by them ever since. 
At this time there were about 120 stations. 
Instructions for the use of the apparatus were 
issued by the Board of Trade to the coastguard 

1857. Manby's mortars were all replaced 

the rocket gear in 1878. 

The rocket apparatus is now in charge 
of the coastguard, if there is a station on the 
spot. In other places there are volunteer com- 
panies enrolled to work with the coastguard, 
or, if there is no establishment of the latter, 
there are volunteer crews of five-and-twenty 
en. At present in England there are 251 
e-saving companies and six brigades. The 
rst of these was enrolled at Tynemouth in 
December 1864, and the example of this port was 
soon followed by South Shields, Cullercoats, and 
many others. The men are rewarded according 
to the distance, the weather, and the number of 
lives saved, whenever they go out on service. 

There are now :w.) rocket stations in the 
United Kingdom. The apparatus as in use in 
this country may thus be briefly described : 

rocket of the pattern invented by Colonel 


Boxer, R.A., is placed on a stand consisting of 
a long, narrow trough, with two shorter legs 
fixed tripod fashion. The stick of the rocket 
is over 9 feet long, the line being passed through 
a hole at its lower end and attached at the 
upper end to a small contrivance called a snotter ; 
this line is 250 fathoms in length and weighs 
56 Ib. When the line has been fired over a 
wrecked vessel, those aboard haul upon it, and 
receive a block with a rope rove through it 
and a tally board painted with instructions in 
the English, French, German, and Norwegian 

Acting upon these orders they fasten the 
block to the lower mast of the ship, or another 
suitable place, and see that the rope runs clear. 
A 3-inch Manilla hawser, 120 fathoms long, 
is then hauled out by those ashore, and is made 
fast above the block. The breeches-buoy is 
afterwards sent out attached to a traveller block 
on the hawser. It is an ordinary cork circular 
life-buoy with a bag of tarred canvas beneath 
it with two holes through which a man can pass 
his legs. If the shore is flat the end of the 
hawser can be raised on an iron triangle. The 
rocket lines are carried, coiled and ready for 
use, in a box which is provided with pins to 
hold the " fakes " or coils in place. The whip 
is stowed into its own box ; it is 250 fathoms in 

,, ' ' ' ' 

: . : 1/1 : -: 


length. When the lives have been saved it is 
possible by using the " hawser cutter " to get 
the hawser back and to unreeve the whip. The 
apparatus is then ready for another wreck. 

Since the year 1870 the number of lives 
saved by the rocket apparatus is 9407. A 
notable instance of a "rocket" service occurred 
on 18th March 1907, when the steamer Jebba 
went ashore on Bolt Tail, in Devonshire. The 
Hope Cove life-boat was launched, but was 
unable to approach the wreck, as she was 
lying broadside on to the shore, with a heavy 
sea breaking over her rail. At each end of her 
were dangerous rocks, making it impossible for 
the boat to work her way in between the steamer 
and the beach. However, the rocket apparatus 
got into communication from the cliff, and by 
this means the crew and passengers, numbering 
155, were all saved. Our picture (Fig. 64) shows 
how ropes were carried to the wreck from the 

Of all the performances, however, of the 
rocket apparatus and its crew, perhaps there 
is none so interesting as the service to the 
Preussen so recently as in 1910. The story is 
told as follows by one who was there : 

" On Sunday afternoon, the 5th November 
1910, it was reported along the coast by the 
Coastguard that the largest sailing - ship in 


the world, the Preussen, had been in collision 
down Channel with some steamer, and that she 
had made for Dtmgeness East Roads with her 
foremast gone and her head gear all broken up. 

" Just as she had brought up with both 
anchors, a strong blow came on from the south- 
west, and the cables parted. It was decided, 
therefore, to make for Dover National harbour, 
there to wait for an opportunity to return to 
her home port for repairs. 

" She set out in tow of tugs, with the south- 
west gale blowing strong, and it was deemed 
advisable to take her in at the eastern entrance. 
This meant that she had to be turned up to the 
wind, so that the extra strain on the hawsers 
would be great when the time came for her to 

" Unfortunately it was too much for the 
hawsers ; they parted, and the helpless vessel 
drifted to leeward into shallow water, where 
the tugs could not get to her without risking 
themselves. At 4.45 p.m. she struck on the 
rocks that surround the shore just beneath the 
South Foreland Lighthouse. 

" But her peril had been reported to the 
Coastguard, who all the afternoon had been 
informed as to her plight, and at once the 
life-saving rocket apparatus and the Dover life- 
boat were called out for service. 


" The apparatus crew decided that it was 
impossible to take the whole of the gear with 
them, so they carried the rocket machine, the 
rocket line, and the whip (in boxes) to the 
point nearest to the doomed vessel. Fortunately 
the tide was ebbing, so that they knew that they 
had several hours before them of safety, as 
they scrambled with their heavy boxes and 
machine along the slippery rocks. These are 
covered right up to the foot of the beetling 
cliffs which tower so high near Dover. The 
work was made all the more difficult because 
of the rugged nature of the ground over which 
they had to pass, and also because it was just 
beginning to get dark. 

4 Before starting with the apparatus, the 
Chief Officer at East Cliff Coastguard station 
had called out the apparatus crew at St. Mar- 
garet's Coastguard station and also the Divis- 
ional Officer in command of the Sandgate 
Division (in which East Cliff station is situated), 
so that he knew that he would soon have both 
of them on the scene of action. 

M I laving struggled along the dreadfully 
difficult track at the base of the cliffs, laden 
with tlu'u jji'iir, they at length arrived at the 
nearest point from whk-h they could hope to 
reach the ship. She was by this time well 
ashore, with a falling tide, and seas breaking 


over her, and with life-boat and tugs hovering 
near ready to help if they could only get near 
enough. The tugs had a hopeless task, but 
the life-boat got close up to her, and then the 
crew would not leave their doomed vessel, 
as she was hard aground, and, being a steel 
ship, was almost certain to keep sound for many 
a long day yet, whatever buffeting she might 
receive. The East Cliff company fired off 
their rocket, and it was seen to pass through 
the rigging, so that they had made a hit first 

" And now a curious thing happened. The 
St. Margaret's crew had arrived on the scene, 
but on top of the cliffs, so that they did not 
know that the East Cliff crew were at work 
down below them. The latter crew were out- 
side their division, but rocket crews do not 
wait to measure off the distances when life is 
in danger. They get there first, and, when their 
services are no longer required, it is quite soon 
enough to find out where they are. 

"The Chief Officer in charge of the St. 
Margaret's crew found that he was too far away 
to fire his rocket with any chance of getting 
the line on board, so he decided to send a 
volunteer coastguard down the cliff side, about 
300 feet high at this point. 

" Arthur Hughes, a boatman in the Coast- 


guard Service, volunteered to go down. The 
cliff ladders were lowered, and Hughes essayed 
his task. He reached the bottom of the ladder, 
but not a feel of ground could he find, and just 
as he was considering what he should do in his 
predicament, a rocket was fired just beneath 
him. This informed him that somebody was 
there, and that it was possible to stand down 
there, so he then decided to get his life-line below 
the ladder and swarm down that. It must be 
remembered that a howling south-west gale was 
blowing and that it was pitch dark, so that no 
shouts would be heard from him, nor could he 
be seen. He went down his life-line, and then 
found, at the end of it, that he could not yet 
touch the ground. 

" He decided, however, that he could not 
>e very far off the bottom, so he lowered himself 

his full length and let go. He was about 
inches off the ground. 

4 For doing this work he has been rewarded 
>y His Imperial Majesty of Germany with a 
jold watch, with the Imperial signature and 
portrait, as well as with other decorations from 
Societies in this country, and right well he 
leserved it. 

4 Just about this time the men at the bottom 
>f the cliff were joined by the Divisional Officer, 
had scrambled over the rocks, and then 


came the question : What was to be done ? 
The tide was on the turn ; it rises with great 
speed at this point, right up to the base of the 
cliffs, and there was no running swiftly along 
the shore. Nor were the means by which 
Hughes had come available. We could not 
reach the end of his line, so it was decided to 
try to send two men up the cliff, at a point 
where there was a path some 40 feet from the 
bottom. This they succeeded in gaining, and 
reached the party waiting up above. They 
told them how we were placed, and asked to 
shift the cliff ladder to a spot behind us, and 
lengthen it out, so that we could escape that 
way, but the wind was too strong and bound 
the ladder to the face of the cliff. 

" All this time we were waiting in the blinding 
rain and bitter wind, and could hear the men 
on the vessel singing. The life-boat had made 
a signal that they had returned into harbour, 
so evidently the crew were safe on board their 
ship. We eventually decided to make fast the 
rocket line, which we had sent over the ship, to 
a line sent down from above, and then make 
good our retreat to the Admiralty Harbour 
Works, one and a half mile distant. Arid a 
long and dangerous journey it was. The men 
laden with the gear slipped about on the rocks, 
straining every nerve to get to a place of safety 


in time, the Divisional Officer slipped and 
sprained his ankle, but went on just the same- 
nobody could help the other then ; and at last 
we all reached the haven to which we had been 
struggling, with sprained hands and ankles among 
the party. As we reached the solid ground the 
tide rose, and we only did our trip in the nick 
of time. 

" St. Margaret's company kept their position 
on the cliffs in case they were needed, but the 
crew were quite safe, and remained on board 
until there was no hope of the ship being saved. 
She broke her back shortly afterwards, and now 
lies a hopeless mass of steel close under the 
frowning cliffs, near the South Foreland. 

" The thanks of the Board of Trade and the 
Admiralty were bestowed upon those officers 
and men, who so gallantly risked their lives and 
limbs at the wreck of the sailing vessel Preussen 
on Sunday, the 5th November 1910. Perhaps 
one day the necessity will be recognised for 

ing steps cut in the face of those cliffs, so 
that means can be obtained of getting away 
from such n perilous spot. It would be almost 
impossible to remove a wounded man under the 
present conditions. It would kill him to be 
carried MS those boxes were carried, and it is 
absolutely impossible to take him up the face 
of those cliffs." 


His Majesty the King has recently approved 
the institution of a medal to be given to civilians 
serving, or who have served, in the Volunteer 
Life-Saving Service in recognition of long and 
faithful service under the Board of Trade. 

In the United States the Manby mortar gave 
place to the Parrott gun. The latter had a 
maximum range of 473 yards against the 421 
yards of the older apparatus. The year 1850 
saw the introduction of the gun into the U.S. 
Life-Saving Service, and during that year it 
saved 201 lives from the wreck of the Ayrshire. 
In 1878 Lieutenant D. A. Lyle of the American 
Army Ordnance Department discovered that 
he could fire a 17-lb. shot and line for 695 yards 
with a 202-lb. mortar. He had been associated 
with Captain Merryman in experiments which 
were directed towards finding a lighter gun with 
a longer range. The Lyle wreck gun was the 
result of these trials, and it is now in general use 
in the United States and in Canada. The pro- 
jectile has a bolt which projects from the 
muzzle of the gun, and to it is attached the line. 
It is thus prevented from being burnt in firing. 
The line is coiled in a box in such a way that it 
will pay out freely. The projectile weighs 17 lb., 
and the gun 185 lb. Its range is nearly 700 

Nowadays an apparatus called the Hunt 


''* ICE. 

n The Lyle gun. 
b The breeches buoy rigged for service. 


Ir.ixvn to scale. 


I gun is also in use where a longer range is neces- 
sary, and for the same reason the Cunningham 
rocket apparatus is provided at some stations. 
The method of using the Lyle wreck gun is the 
same as with the English rocket apparatus, 
the breeches buoy being supplemented on 

occasion by a life-car. This is a covered boat 
of sheet iron in which six or seven passengers 
can be accommodated at one time. Its use, how- 
ever, involves a great increase in the necessary 
time and labour. It was employed in 1880 at 
the wreck of the schooner Hartzel, near Frank- 
fort, U.S.A., on Lake Michigan. The gun was 
placed in position with the utmost difficulty, 
but it fired a line over the vessel at the second 
attempt. It took nearly three hours to com- 
plete the communication and to clear the line, 
so fierce were the wind and sea ; but at last it 

was accomplished, and the breeches-buoy was 
dispatched. There were seven men and a woman 
on the Hartzel, and when a man came ashore 
lirst he announced that the woman would not 
use the buoy. The life -car was, therefore, 
substituted. To the indignation of every one 
two sailors returned in it, followed again by two 
more. They evaded all questions regarding the 
woman, and made various excuses for her having 
been left behind. On the third journey the last 
two men came ashore and swore that she was 


dead. The mast fell immediately afterwards, and 
the body of the poor woman was not recovered 
until more than a fortnight later. 

The rocket apparatus or the line-carrying 
gun is in use in nearly all European countries, 
as well as in several of our Colonies. In South 
Australia it is placed in charge of local police 
officers, who act as leaders and arrange quarterly 
practices for the crews. In Canada the Lyle 
wreck gun is established at Devil's Island and 
Duncan's Cove, New Brunswick, and also at 
St. Paul's Island and Sable Island. At Sable 
Island there is the rocket apparatus as well. 

There have been many similar devices in- 
vented during the past century, but none of 
them have been of any real practical use. 
Colonel Delvigne's life-arrow was in shape some- 
thing like a billiard cue, and could be fired from 
an ordinary musket for a distance of 80 yards. 
Tremblay's rocket, like Bell's gun, was intended 
to be propelled from ship to shore 

In 1868 a life-anchor, invented by a Mr. 
John Rogers, won a prize of 50 offered by the 
Shipwrecked Fisherman's and Mariner's Royal 
Benevolent Association for the best device of 
this description. It was a three-fluked folding 
projectile anchor with a block attached through 
which a rope was passed. The anchor was folded 
and fired from a mortar, the line being coiled 


in the usual way. An essential point was the 
double line sent out at the first in order to save 
time. It was intended that a boat should be 
drawn out by the line, once communication was 

The same Society approved a life - kite 
invented by Captain G. S. Nares, the well- 
known Arctic explorer. It could be used 
from a wrecked vessel without assistance from 
the shore, dragging each man to the beach 
with or without the help of a life-buoy. It 
consisted of an ordinary kite strengthened by a 
wooden stay, and could be flown with either 
single or double lines. Kites, however, have 
been found to be unreliable for such a purpose, 
and Captain Nares' invention has never come 
into general use. 



DIRECTLY we attempt to compare the life-boat 
services of the world we are faced with difficulties, 
and before we have gone far we begin to realise 
that the difficulties are insurmountable. At a 
first glance we are struck with an apparently 
world - wide resemblance ; we remember that 
the various systems are organised in the main 
on English lines, and we reason accordingly. 
But with the lines and the system the resem- 
blance ends. The conditions in every country, in 
every district even, are so different that we can 
follow up no connected argument. 

So far as most of the European nations are 
concerned, the chief point of similarity is in 
the central organisation. In this the English 
pattern is followed closely, and apparently 
our official system is found to be an ideal one. 
In the methods of collection, of payments, 
of issuing accounts, and of reporting generally, 
it is our example that is followed. And it 
is the same with such matters as the provision, 



inspection, and manning of stations, and, to 
some extent, in the regulations for their conduct. 

But, when we come to the real heart of the 
matter, to the boats themselves, and to the 
conditions of service, we find wide differences 
not only in every country but in every stretch 
of coast-line. These differences make it im- 
possible to compare figures with anything like 
confidence. For instance, in Germany and in 
Holland we find cheap, efficient services, and 
the light, inexpensive material and economy of 
upkeep that are compatible with them. The 
boats are suited to the conditions of the coast 
and the requirements of the men ; but they 
would certainly not find favour with our crews, 
nor be equal to the work which we must demand 
of them. We turn to America, and there the 
boats are on an average lighter still, but, owing 
to the necessary system of manning them, the 
cost is tenfold. Then we compare Canada, 
where they use the same vessels, and where, 

in the United States, the whole of the service 
is under Government control. We expect to 
find a similar system and a proportionate cost ; 
but instead we find that a small coastwise 
population makes it possible to man the boats 
as we do at home, without the vast expenditure 
by permanent and whole-time crews. 

Probably the nearest approach to our service 


both in methods and conditions is to be found 
in France, and the proportional cost is very 
much the same ; but there too the men prefer 
a lighter type of boat than those which our 
English fishermen are accustomed to handle. 

At first sight, the fact that the expenditure 
of the American State Service is so enormously in 
excess of that of our voluntary one is decidedly 
startling. It supports the same number of 
stations as we do, and that during only a por- 
tion of the year. When, however, we come to 
consider the conditions, our opinion is modified. 
In England, and in all the countries which work 
on our methods, the men are on the spot ; they 
volunteer their services when wanted, and when 
they are wanted those services are paid for. 
In America the men have to be imported ; 
and, since they are not born to the longshore 
habit as they are here, they have to be especially 
trained to perform their duties. Here they can 
supplement their earnings by their rewards for 
service ; in America, they cannot even supple- 
ment their rewards by their professional earnings. 
They are skilled life-boat men and that only. 
It is quite right and natural that they should 
be paid accordingly. 

In the Canadian State Service the men a,re 
paid on the same system as in ours, and the 
annual expenditure is distinctly moderate. It 


cannot be argued, however, that in England a 
State service on the Canadian lines would 
answer the country's purposes. The men who 
man the boats are different altogether. In 
Canada they are the product of a young country, 
free of old-time prejudices, and free too of the 
absolute confidence in their own nautical ability 
and judgment acquired by generation after 
generation of experts. To place our men under 
Government control, and the stricter discipline 
which it would necessarily imply, would be an 
experiment of so far-reaching a character that 
the effect cannot possibly be estimated. 

The system of supplementing the collected 
income of a voluntary association by a State 
grant would seem to be an excellent one. At 
any rate it has been adopted as a working pro- 
position by many countries. In England, how- 
ever, we are wedded to the theory that State 
aid must necessarily imply State control. Since 
this theory, if carried out logically, would in 
our rase mean divided authority, it would 
plainly he unworkable. In fact, as we know, 
the Institution over forty years ago gratefully 

lined to benefit further by the Board of 
Trade's grant from the Mercantile Marine Fund. 
It was eolith-red wiser to ivt'rain from accepting 
monies raised by taxation. 

The more closely we examine the whole 


question, the clearer it is that we simply arrive 
at the following conclusions. Except the United 
States, almost every country has to some extent 
modelled its organisation on ours. In each case 
it has examined our methods and modified them 
according to its needs, which widely vary and 
which are not our own. The American service, 
however, was initiated, and has since pro- 
gressed, on totally different lines. So far as 
the life-boat is concerned the two countries 
have nothing in common. If they were to 
adopt our system or we theirs, it would be 
necessary to go back first to prehistoric times 
and to evolve anew the people, the climate, and 
the coast-line. So long as the characteristics 
of these three essentials differ, it is idle to enter 
seriously into comparisons or contrasts. It is 
probable that the service of every country is 
that best suited to its own conditions, for it 
must be remembered that, in nearly every case, 
it is working on the experience of fifty or a 
hundred years. 

Setting aside comparison, it is worth our 
while to study briefly the life - saving service 
as a whole. So far as Europe is concerned, the 
entire northern and western coasts are ringed 
by a series of life-boat and rocket stations. 
Their positions are chosen according to the 
exigencies of nature and the number of wrecks 


which are to be expected on an average of 
former years. The Mediterranean seaboard is 
more sparsely protected. But we must not be 
in a hurry to condemn any country as lacking 
in consideration or foresight, because it fails to 
provide for the shipwrecked sailor. It is not 
every coast upon which a life-boat service is 
either possible or requisite. Take, for instance, 
the western seaboard of Ireland. Our own 
Institution undertakes to provide a life-boat, 
wherever it can be shown that there is need for 
one and that the vessel can be manned, and to 
this guarantee it always adheres. But from 
Aranmore to Cape Clear there are but two 
stations. Turn, however, to a wreck chart of 
the same coast, and you will see that in the 
district there are annually on an average less 
than thirty wrecks, of which more than half are 
within reach of Aranmore and Culdaff life-boats. 
To provide against wholly unprecedented emer- 
gencies would be futile ; the money would be 
better spent elsewhere. Of course, it may be 
said that the unexpected always happens, and 
that some day there will be a bad disaster and 
no provision for thf safety of those imperilled. 
That is all very well, and if it could be shown 
just where in all those two hundred odd miles the 
catastrophe would take place, it could, no doubt, 
be provided for. But to found fifteen or twenty 



thousand-pound stations on the off-chance would 
hardly be expedient. Unless one has access to 
a series of wreck charts or to accurate figures, 
it is impossible to say confidently that here or 
there a life-boat is needed. In any case, it is 
more than probable that those who are on the 
spot are best able to judge of its requirements. 

In more than one instance, on inquiring into 
the foreign and colonial services, I have been 
met with the explanation that owing to the 
small coastwise traffic and the infrequency of 
wrecks no organised system was necessary. On 
some coasts, too, especially in certain of our 
own Colonies, the manning of life-boats would 
be absolutely out of the question. But even 
where there is no population whatever, the ship- 
wrecked mariner is not entirely forgotten, and 
frequently shelters and stores are provided for 
their use in almost inaccessible localities. 

We are a little apt to look at our own well- 
nigh perfect system and to plume ourselves 
upon the superior quality of our humanity. It 
will be quite a surprise to many of us to find 
that the same spirit and the same endeavour 
are world-wide. It is not too much to say 
that almost every civilised country that needs a 
maritime life-saving service has done its best 
to provide one ; and in its humane efforts it is 
pretty certain that it has been well supported 


by the public, for the life-boat cause every- 
where is a popular one. 

One thing it is safe to assert, without fear 
of contradiction, and that is that, whenever 
and wherever the dweller by the seashore has 
had the chance to help, he has freely and bravely 
responded, and that, according to the measure 
of his strength and his ability, he has always 
been ready to lend his aid to help his fellow- 


il Register and Gentleman s Magazine (1 781, et seq.). History 
of Merchant Shipping (Lindsay, 1883). Encylopcedia oj 
Ships and Shipping (H. B. Mason). History of Marine 
Architecture (Charnock, 1850). Mast and Sail in Europe 
and Asia (H. Warrington Smyth). The Sailors Word-Book 
(Admiral W. H. Smyth, 1867). Universal Dictionary of the 
Marine (William Falconer, 1769). Manual oj Yacht and 
Boat Sailing (Dixon Kemp). Ports and Harbours of Great 
Britain (Finden and Bartlett). And the Publications of 
the English and Foreign Life-Boat Institutions and 
Authorities, etc. 


Aberdeen life-boats, 130 

Adinkerke Station, 223 

Admiralty, the, 75 

Adventure, wreck of the, 50 

Agger Canal Station, 228 

Ajaccio Station, 247 

Albert, Prince, 64 

Algeria, 247, 252 

Alliance, wreck of the. 207 

Amelia, Queen, 250 

America. See United States of 

Amiral Lafont, steam life-boat, 

103, 243 
Amrum Station, 210 

wreck of the, 149 
Anchors, etc., 171 
Anderson's life-boat, 273 

Inemone, wreck of the, 186 
Angle life-boat, 99 
Anglesey Life-Boat Association, 

\ntelope, wreck of the, 132 
Antigone, wreck of the, 128 

ng a wreck, 183 
iranmore Station, 305 
Archangel Station, 238 
Archer, Mr. Colin, 235 yawl. See Norway yawl 
iation for Assistance of 


Athcrficld, launching way at, 159 
itlantic i 198, 201 

Audiertie Station, 240 

'.ia. South, 250, 260 
Autoritu Maritime of Italy, 252 

'; of the, 296 
, wreck of the, 84 

Baltic coast, 207, 209 
iltic and wrecking, 28 
Itrum Station, 209 

3 11 

Bamborough, 18, 45-47, 155, 191 

Bams, wreck of the, 177 

Banfield, B.C., 258 

Barcelona, 248 

Bareham, Mr., 114 

Barfleur Station, 240 

Barro do Rio Grande do Sul, 263 

Beachport (S.A.), 260 

Bedford life-boat, 122 

Beebe-McLellan life-boat, 199, 200, 


Beeching, James, 68 
Beeching's life-boat, 69-73, 75, 76 
Belgians, King of the, 64 
Belgium, 222-227, 2 54 
Bell, Sergeant, 239, 280 
Bergen, 235, 237 
Berlin, wreck of the, 220 
Bernieres, Mons., 40-42, 62, 239, 


Berthon's life-boat, 273 
Betsy, wreck of the, 63 
Black Middens Sands, 50, 55 
Blake engine, 108 
Blankenberghe Station. 223, 224 
Blue Anchor Society, U.S.A., 205 
Board of Trade, 74, 132, 214, 

224, 282, 287, 295, 303 
Boarhills life-boat, 129 
Boathouses, 157 
Bohus Lan Archipelago, station 

at, 232 

Bolt Tail, wrerk on. 289 
Bonney's life-boat, 271 
Borkum, 207, 209 

ft, U.S.A.. 

Boston Bay Station, 201 
Boxer's rocket apparatus, 249, 

286, 288 

Boyce's life-raft, 278 
I'.r.mtevik Station, 232 
Bray's life-boat, 267 



Brazil, 262 
Breeches buoy, 286 
Bremen, 208, 209, 210 
Br e me r haven, 209 
Brighton life-boat, 131 
Brighton, trials at, 77 

wreck near, 178 
Bristol Weekly Intelligencer, 25 
British Columbia, 256 
Broadstairs life-boat, 120 
Brooke engine, 128, 218 
Broughty Ferry life-boat, 109 
Bruce, Mr. G., 129 
Brunner's life-boat, 266 
Buckhaven, wreck at, 151 
Building a life-boat, 138, 139 
Burghsluis Station, 219 
Burke, Edmund, 28 

Caistor disaster, 150 
Calais, wreck at, 247 
Cambridge, Duke of, 60 
Campbeltown life-boat, 120 
Canada, 256-259, 301, 302 
Cape Clear, 305 
Cape Cod Station, 195 
Carlskrona, 231 
Carriage, 159-161, 174 
Cascaes Station, 252 
Castleton Station, 63 
Caulcher's life-jacket, 166 
Charlwood, Captain, 72 
Charnock's History of Marine 

Architecture, n, 56 
Chili, 262 
China, 21 

Choosing a life-boat, 136, 137 
Christ-church, N.Z., 261 
Christiania, 234 
City of Glasgow steam life-boat, 

98, 99, 100, 216 
Clarence, Duke of, 60 
Claudi, C. B., 228, 229 
Clavering, wreck of the, 187 
Coastguard, 89, 287, 291 
Coble, 14, 44, 45 
Cohasset Station, 192 
Colquhoun, Colonel J. N., 159 
Cook's life-raft, 275 
Coq Station, 223 
Corsica, 247, 252 
Cost of life-boats, 139, 214, 242, 

243, 257, 259 
Costain, Mr., 116 
Cos ton signal, 199 

Countisbury Hill, 176 
Coverack life-boat, 117 
Coxswain's duties, etc., 146 

rewe Trust, 44, 46 

romer life-boats, 81, 92, 117, Il8 

'uftc, wreck of the, 98 
Culdaff Station, 305 
Cullercoats, 287 
Cunningham rocket, 198 
Currituck Beach, 196 
Cuxhaven Station, 209 

Damgarten Station, 207 
Darling, Grace, 154 

William, 154 
Dawson rocket apparatus, 249 
Deal boatmen, 36 
Deal luggers, 36, 39 
Dedication of life-boat, 144 
De Gelacy, Colonel, 164, 239 
Delhi, wreck of the, 263 
Delvigne's life-arrow, 298 
Democrat, wreck of the, 167 
Demonstration launch, 178 
Dempster, Mr. Cathcart, 55, 152 
Denmark, 228-230, 254 
Dennett, J., 286 
Dereham-Market, 281 
Devil's Island Station, 298 
Dieppe life-boat, 244 
Discipline of crews, 88 
Dobbin's life-boat, 258 
Doherty's life-boat, 257 
Donaghadee life-boat, 109 
Donna Nook Station, 121 
Douglas Bay Station, 63 
Dover, trials at, 267 

,, wreck at, etc., 35, 2 
Dreadnought, H.M.S., 100 
Drogue, 169 
Drop keel, 161 
Duhnen Station, 209 
Duke of Northumberland steam 

life-boat, 97, 216 
Dunbar Station, 117, 177 
Duncan's Cove Station, N.B., 298 
Dunstanborough, wreck at, 22 
Dyne's life-boat, 272 

East Cliff coastguard, 291 
East Swin, wreck on, 127 
Edinburgh, Duke of, 237 
Edward VII., King, 150 
Ellen Southard, wreck of the, 119 
Emden, 208, 209, 211 



Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 
Erskine's life-boat, 93 
Evan's rocket apparatus, 249 

Fair Island life-boat, 132 

Fairies, N. f 52, 122 

Falconer, W., 19 

Fame Islands, wreck on the, 155 

Farrow, G., 123 

Faunce, Captain J., 195 

Fenit pilot boats, 13 

Fiji, 261 

Fisheries Exhibition, 77 

Fishguard life-boat, 168 

Fishing- boats, Scotch, 74, 153, 234 

Flanders, 223 

Flyvholm, 229 

Forest Oak, wreck of the, 127 

Forfar shire, wreck of the, 155 

Formby life-boat, 117 

Forrestt & Son, 77, 237 

Forrest Hall, wreck of the, 176 

Forster, General Thomas, 45 

Fram. 235 

France, 21, 40, 239-247, 302 

Frances, wreck of the, 130 

" Francis " life-boat, 207, 211 

Friesland, 216 

Frinton life-boat, 128 

Galveston, 203 

Ganges, wreck of the, 32 

General Barker, wreck of the, 30 

Gentleman's Magazine, 52 

" German " life-boat, 212 

Germany, 161, 206-214, 301 

George IV 

George Kendall, wreck of the, 125 

Gibraltar, 263 

Gibraltar Point life-boat, 121 

Gogstad, Viking ship of, 12 

Goodwin Sands, 38, 72 

Gorleston life-boats, u.; 

Gothland, 232 

Gray ck at, 244 

Great Exhibition, 68, 93, 114, 118 

123, 165, 206, 250, 270 
Greathead, Henry, 10, 51, 55, 60 

i ia 162, 250 

Great Lakes, U.S. A .S, 201 

a. K. & H., 96, 100, ji<> 

\V., 123 

lifr-boats, 99, 117 
nnsport life-boat, 117 

lalifax, N.S., 258 
ialsewell, wreck of the, 22 
lamburg, 208, 209, 211 
larlinger, 216 

Hartlepool life-boat, 185, 187 
iartzel, wreck of the, 297 
larwich life-boat, 97, 98 
iastings, wreck at, 149 
latteras Inlet, 196 
iaul-off warp, 182 
iaylett, James, 150 
leaving cane and line, 169, 170, 

Helen Peele, steam tug, 96, 101, 

1 88 

rlelmsdale life-boat, 130, 131 
rlelwick lightship, wreck of the, 82 
rlely's life-boat, 273 
Henry, Cape, 196 

I Henry " life-boat, 243, 251 
Henry of Netherlands, Prince, 


Herd Sand, wrecks on, 49, 55, 63 
Herodotus, boats of, 1 1 
Heyst Station, 223 
Hilary, Sir William, 60, 63 
Holbrook's life-boat, 270, 278 
Holcroft's raft, 270 
Holland, 43, 100, 215-222, 301 
Holyhead life-boat, 97 
Homer, ships of, 1 1 
Hook of Holland, 216, 219, 220 
Horsburgh, Major, 152 
Horsing the life-boat, 153 
House of Commons. See Select 

Hovellers, 36-38 
Hoylake life-boat, 117 
Hughes, A., 292 
Humber Conservancy, 133 
" Hunt " wreck gun, 198, 296 
Huron Lake, wreck on, 202 
Huron, wreck of the, 196 
Huttoft life-boat, 121 

I 1 valor pilot boat, 235 

He de Groix, 243 

Ilfracombe life-boat, 120 

llfracombc, rescue near, 33 


" Infallible " life-boat, 270 

Ireland, 305 

Isle of Man life-boats, 63 

f Wight, 129,286 
Italy, 252, 253 



James Stevens life-boats, 99, 101, 

125, 180 
Japan, 249, 262 
Jebba, wreck of the, 289 
Jensen, Captain, 220 
Johanna, wreck of the, 208 
John and Robert, wreck of the, 178 
John C. Fitxpatrick, wreck of the, 


Johnson's life-belt, 166 
Jordan Flats, wreck on, 119 
Juist, 209 
Julia, wreck of the, 98 

Kalmar Station, 232 

" Kapok " life-belt, 166, 167 

Karolinensiel, 209 

" Keel," 14 

Kelson, G., 102 

Kemp, Dixon, 12 

Kentish Knock, wrecks at, 31, 100 

Kiel, 21 o 

Kimball, Mr. Simmer I., 194, 195, 


Kisbee, Lieutenant, 286 
Kleman, Lieutenant C., 232 
Klitmoller Station, 229 
Knocke, 223 
Korting engine, 214 
Kromhout engine, 218 

Laboe, 214 

La Fdre, Mons., 239, 281 

Lamb and W hite . See W hite 

" Land's End " life-boat, 271 

Langeoog, 209 

Largs Bay, 151 

Launching the life-boat, 173-189 

"Lawe House," "Gentlemen of 

the," 50, 122, 191 
Leer, 208 
Legacies, 144, 145 
Leopold, Prince, 60 
Lewis, Mr., 93 
Life-belts, 153, 164 
Life-boat, building of the, 138, 139 
,, choosing of the, 136, 


cost of the, 139, 214, 

242, 243, 257, 259 
dedication of the, 144 
defined, 1-2 
horsing of the, 153 
launching the, 173-189 
life of a, 142 

Life-boat, origin of the, 1-20 

testing of the, 139-142 

Life-Boat Saturday Fund, 90, 91 

Life-buoys, 164, 167, 170 

Life-car, 193, 297 

Life-hat, 165 

Life-lines, 163 

Life of life-boats, 142 

Life-Saving Service, origin of, 21- 

Life-ship, 101 

Light's life-boat, 275 

Lightship, 253 

Lincolnshire Life-Boat Associa- 
tion, 116, 121 

Linden, 208 

Little Egg Harbour, 193 

Liverpool, Earl of, 60 

Liverpool Exhibition, 96 

Liverpool life-boats, 63, 81, 92, 
112, 116, 117, 243 

Lives saved, 92, 122, 127, 128, 
129, 204, 214, 219, 230, 232, 237, 
247, 250, 252 

Lofoten, 235 

Long Island, 190, 193 

Long Point, 257 

Longstone, 155 

Looe, wreck at, 186 

Louisville Station, 201 

Lowestoft trials, 81, 115, 119 

Lukin,L., 18,43,44,58,113,116,200 

Luna, wreck of the, 132 

" Lyle " wreck gun, 193, 198, 
249, 296, 297 

Lyme, wreck at, 25 

Lynmouth life-boat, 176 

Lytham life-boat, 73, 78, 118 

Macintosh, 165, 270 

Madeira surf -boat, 14 

Madrid, 249 

Magazines life-boat, 117 

Malarhusen, 232 

Mallorca, 248 

Manacles, wrecks at, 188, 275 

Manby, Captain, 58, 134, 268, 

Manby 's wreck gun, 63, 121, 207, 

209, 210, 281-287 
Manners-Sutton, Dr., 60 
Manning and crews, 88, 95, 103, 

127, 130, 131, 132, 146, 191, 

198, 214, 219, 225, 230, 241, 

252, 253, 257, 302 



Marchand engine, 244 
Margate life-boats, 120, 128, 129 
Maria Christina. (Uicin, 248 
Marie, Grand Duchess. 237 
Massachusetts, 190 
Massachusetts Humane Society, 

47. 191, 193 
Masts, etc., 163 
Mayo, Captain E. F., 203 
M'Donald, Mr., 72 
Meanwell, wreck of the, 153 

rranean, n, 14, 252, 305 
Memel, 207 

Mercantile Marine Fund, 74, 303 
Merchant Shipping Act, 153 
Mrrryman, Captain, 296 
Mersey Dock and Harbour Trust, 


Metropolis, wreck of the, 196 
Mexico, Gulf of, 197, 198, 201, 203 
Mexico, wreck of the, 78 
Michigan Lake, wreck on, 297 
MiiK'hi ;ul life-boat, 117 
Moddergat, 218 
Mogador surf -boats, 1 7 
Mohegan, 275 
Montagu, wreck of the, 38 

. trials at, 81, 119 
'i surf -boats, 15-17 
Mortimer, Sydney, 168 
Motor life-boats, 92, 102-111, 201, 

213, 218, 219, 224, 244, 251, 

258, 260, 
Mumbles life-boat, 183 

Naples, laws of, 27 
Napoleon, wreck of the, 129 

Captain G. S., 299 
National Encyclopedia , 165 
Nayland Rock, wreck on, 128 

!. 209 

New Brighton life-boat, 99, 119 
;runs\vick. 25'., 258 

. 266 
New ] , 193, 194 

m<l. 255, 261 



" Nonpareil " life-raft, 274 
Norden, 208 

rney, 209 
tolk bcachmcn, 39, 135, 169 

Norfolk wherry, 61 

Norfolk and Suffolk life-boats, 58, 
81, 92, 112-116, 128, 163, 184 

Norfolk and Suffolk yawls, 39, 
113, 163 

Nornen, wreck of the, 151 

North Carolina, 190, 196, 202 

North Devon Life-Boat Associa- 
tion, 116 

Northumberland, Dukes of, 55, 

57. 6 4. 65, 7 6 l62 . 2 5 
Northumberland prize, 65-73, 93, 

1 1 8, 120, 206, 270 
Norway, 233-237 
Norway yawl, 13, 18, 19, 52 
NMre Dame de Toutes- Aides, 

wreck of the, 100 
Nova Scotia, 256 
Nuova Ottavia, wreck of the, 202 

Oars, 171 

Ocean Prince, wreck of the, no 

Oesel, 238 

Ohio River, 201 

Oil, use of, 217 

Oilskins, 167 

Oland, 232 

Oleron, sea laws of, 35 

Ontario, 256 

Oporto, 250, 251 

Optima, wreck of the, 125 

Oran, 241 

"Original" life-boat, 53-57. 122, 


Ottend, 223, 224, 226 
Ottoman Empire. See Turkey 

Pacific Coast, 197, 199 

Padstow lih -boat, 94, 96, 99, 101, 

1 88 

Palma, 248, 252 
iVlmrr, George, 60, 6l 
Palmer's life-boat, 62 
Papenburg, 208 

k of the. 188 
Parrott wreck gun, 296 

225, 230 

H-nts. See I\ Pay- 

ments, atii) S.i! 
IVa'' 75 

207, 211, 

Peel, 63 

PMttior '<. i ||, 150 

Peru, 263 



Pilots, rescues by, 31, 32-34 
Pirate, The, 29 
Plate River, 263 
Plenty, Pellew, 60 
Plenty's life-boat, 60, 61 
Pluviose, wreck of the, 247 
Point of Ayr life-boat, 117 
Point of Ness, wreck at, no 
Poolbeg life-boat, 120 
Porlock, wreck at, 1 76 
Port MacDonnell, 260 
Port Victor, 260 
Porthoustock life-boat, 189 
Portugal, 14, 55, 118, 250-252 
President van Heel, steam life- 
boat, 220 

Preussen, wreck of the, 289 
Preventive men, rescues by, 31 
Prince Edward's Island, 256 
Prussia, 207, 211 

Queen, steam life-boat, 99 
Queensland, 261 

Rafts, 277 

Ramsey, 63 

Ramsgate life-boat, 72, 132, 188 

Redcar life-boat, 132 

Redningskoi'te, 236, 237 

Relieving tubes, 163 

Remington, G., 93 

Resolute, H.M.S., 132 

Revenue Cutter Service, 194, 197 

Rewards, payments, and salaries, 
146, 154, 198, 214, 219, 225, 230, 
241, 249, 252, 257, 262, 287, 296 

Rhyl life-boat, 73, 118, 119 

Richardson, Messrs., 118, 250 

Rio de Janeiro, 263 

Robin, Emile, 249 

Rocket apparatus, 224, 232, 240, 

**24i, 256, 259, 280-299 

Rockwood, Mr., 52, 122 

Rodger's life-raft, 267 

Roger's life-anchor, 298 

Roman galley, n 

Ross, Captain, 275 

Rotterdam, 216 

Royal Humane Society, 156, 282 

Royal Humane Society of 
Australia, 261 

Royal National Institution for 
Preservation of Life from Ship- 
wreck. See Royal National 
Life-Boat Institution 

Royal National Life-Boat In- 
stitution, 59, 64, 74, 77, 79, 80, 
81, 85-92, 94, 95, 104, 105, 107, 
113, 117, 118, 121, 129, 132, 
133, 136, 137, 139, 144, 147, 
149, 150, 153, 156, 157, 159, 
160, 161, 162, 169, 173, 188, 
262, 286, 303 

Royal Naval Club, 231 

Royan, 243 

Rubie life-boat, 80 

Rudder, etc., 171 

Runswick life-boat, 84 

Russia, 237, 238 

Ryde life-boat, 120 

Sable Island, 258, 298 

Saffi. surf -boats, 16 

Sails, 163 

St. Agnes launching way, 159 

St. Alban's Head, wreck at, 22 

St. Andrews, 55, 129, 152 

St. Anne's life-boat, 78 

St. David's, wreck at, 167 

St. Heliers, 262 

St. Ives, wreck at, 180 

St. Jean-de-Luz, 240 

Ste Lucie, 244 

St. Malo, 240 

St. Margaret's Coastguard, 291 

St. Paul's, 258, 298 

St. Peter Port, 262 

St. Petersburg, 238 

Salaries. See Rewards, Payments, 

and Salaries 
Salee Rovers, 15, 17 
Saltfleet life-boat, 121 
Salvage, 38, 39, 147-149 
Samuda Bros., 102 
San Luis, 204 
Sandgate division of coastguard, 


Sandhammeren, 232 
Sandplates, 161 
Sandy Hook, 193 
Scanian Coast, 232 
Schank, Captain, 161 
Scheveningen, 218 
Schleswig-Holstein, 207 
Scilly, wreck at, 22 
Scott, Sir Walter, 29 
Seaton Carew, wreck at, 187 
Select Committee's Report, 85- 




righting life-boat, 49-74, 76, 

77, 79, 80, 81, 83, 87, 92, 141, 

201, 217, 219, 238, 240, 242, 

248, 251, 258, 265 
Sexerns of Shetland. ..\ 
Shanklin life-boat, 129 
Sharp, Archdeacon, 44, 46, 47 
Slu-ringham life-boats, 126, 127 
Shields life-boats, etc., 14, 55, 

122-124, 132, 250 
Ship's life-boats, 276 
Shipwrecked Fisherman's and 

Mariner's Royal Benevolent 

Association, 298 
Signals, 171, 172, 199 
Simmons, Lieutenant, 72 
Skateraw, wreck at, 177 
Skegness life-boat, 121 
Skelton, Mr., 60 
Skerries, wreck on the, 98 
Skids, 171, 174 
Skinner's life-boat, 171 
Sliding keel. See Drop Keel 
Slipways, 158, 179 
Smyth's Word-Book, 37 
Snipe, wreck of the, 281 
Society of Arts, awards of the, 

55, 58, 266, 267, 278 
South Africa, 261 
South Australia. See Australia, 


South-Eastern Railway, 102 
Southport life-boat, 78, 141 
Spain, 248-250, 262 
Spanish surf -boats, 1 4 

dau rocket apparatus, 249 
Spartel Cape, wreck on, 263 
Spheroid, section of, 10 
Spiekeroog, 208, 209 
Spurn Head life-boat, 133 
Station, choice of, 144, 145 

., equipment of, 157-172 
Steam life-boats, 87, 92, 93-103, 

219, 243, 260 
Steam tugs. See Tugs 
Stcphanscn, C., 235 
St phen. John, 168 

Strahan. . 

Stromness life-boat, no 


" Strand " life-boats, 217 
Suffolk Humane Society, n ]. 

Sum; -61 

Superstition regarding saving life, 


Surf. See Waves 
Surtees' History of Durham, 53 
Susan Elizabeth, wreck of the, 180 
Sussex, Duke of, 60 
Sutherland, Duchess of, 131 
Sutton life-boat, 121 
Sweden, 231232 
Swedish salvage companies, 39 
Sydney, 261 
3ylt, 210 

' Tabernacles," 163 
Table Bay, 261 
Tasmania, 261 
Teignmouth, 161 
Tenby life-boat, 82, 182 
slipway, 158, 183 
Terschelling, 218 
Testing a life-boat, 139-142 
Texel, 216 

Thames Ironworks Co., 131 
Theddlethorpe life-boat, 121 
Thy boron Station, 230 
Timmins-Hodgson life-boat, 77 
Tintagel Head, wreck at, 100 
Tipping, Lieutenant G., 161 
Tokio, 262 

Tom Perry life-boat, 123, 125 
Tormentine, Cape, 258 
Totland Bay, 129 
Travemunde, 210 
Tremblay's rocket, 298 
Trengrouse, Mr., 171, 286 
Tubular life-boat, 81, 92, 118-120, 

250, 265, 278 
Tugs, use of, 96, 101, 1 88, 224, 


Tullpch, Lieut.-Colonel A. H., 160 
Tunis, 247, 252 
Turkey, 253 
Tylo; 1 08, 220 

Tyne Life-Boat Society, 55, 122- 


louth, 104, 287 

United States of America, 21, 40 
United States Life-Saving Service, 
107, no, 119, 190-205, 301, 302 
Upcher, H. M., 127 
Upcher, the Hon. Charlotte, 126 
Uruguay, 263 

Valparaiso, 262 

" Varin.i- " i j 



Velasco, 204 
Very's pistol, 172 
Victoria (Australia), 36, 261 
Victoria, B.C., 258 
Victoria, Queen, 64 
Viking's ships, 9, u, 12-13 
Visigoths, laws of the, 27 
"Vlets," 217 
Vlissingen, 219 

Wadena, wreck of the, 203 
Walton-on-the-Naze life-boat, 127, 


Wangeroog, 209 
Ward, Admiral J. Ross, 160, 165, 

166, 171 

Watkin, Sir Edward, 101 
Watson, G. L., 80 
Watson life-boats, 80-82, 92 
Waves and surf, 2-8 
Wellington (Ontario), 258 
Wells life-boat, 117 
Western Australia, 261 
Whale-boats, 92, 120 
Whitby life-boat, 273 
White, J. S., & Co., 99, 120 

Whitehaven life-boat, 78 
Whittingham, Mrs. J. P., 131 
Wicklow life-boat, 109 
Wilhelm I., Konig, 211 
Wilhelm II., Emperor, 293 
William, wreck of the, 186 
Willis, William, 131 
Wilson, Mr., 60 
Wilson's life-boat, 266 
Wolseley engine, 108 
Wood's life-raft, 274 
Wouldhave, William, 9, 18, 51 
Wreck gun, etc., 280-287 
Wrecking, 25 

laws against, 26, 27, 35 

Yarmouth, 281 

Yarmouth yawls. See Norfolk 

and Suffolk yawls 
Yashu, Count de, 262 
York, Duke of, 60 
Young John, wreck of the, 185 
Young, T. A., & Son, 102 

Zeebrugge, 223, 224 
"Zetland" life-boat, 132 

Printed by MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, Rdinburfh 


APR~2 1995 






YC 03126