Tide turned on lifeboat team

Floodwaters rise at Whitby lifeboathouse
Floodwaters rise at Whitby lifeboathouse
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Whitby’s lifeboat crew almost became the victims for once after the rising flood of tide water surged into the boathouse.

This image of the flooding, taken by Gazette reporter Karl Hansell, showed the RNLI building already submerged, with an hour yet to go until full tide.

Posted on the Whitby Gazette’s Facebook page, the image was viewed by over 158,000 people and the town received messages of support from as far away as New Zealand and Florida.

The all-weather lifeboat was the only vessel to remain in the lower harbour during the surge - it is not allowed past the Swing Bridge - and the lifeboat crew were at station attempting to fight back the flood of water.

Sea water flowed into the ground floor of the station and the moorings and pontoon were damaged.

“It got to the stage where we were going to have to launch and lay in the river all night,” said RNLI coxswain Mike Russell.

The moorings at the lifeboat station are built to withstand spring high tides and would have been able to cope with the usual high spring tides of around six metres. However, the storm surge of 8.2 metres was beyond their capabilities.

When the station was built, it was also done so with global warming in mind and was constructed a metre higher than was necessary at the time.

“As it happens, it wasn’t high enough,” added Mr Russell.