Norfolk boats will help train rescuers

RICHARD BATSON Lifeboat crews are on course to be trained on a pair of new purpose-built Norfolk-made boats. The first of a pair of 42ft training vessels, costing around £450,000 each, began its journey by road and sea to the RNLI headquarters at Poole yesterday.

RICHARD BATSON

Lifeboat crews are on course to be trained on a pair of new purpose-built Norfolk-made boats. The first of a pair of 42ft training vessels, costing around £450,000 each, began its journey by road and sea to the RNLI headquarters at Poole yesterday.

It set off from the North Walsham factory of Hardy Marine, heading to Lowestoft for launching.

The boat is based on the company's 42ft pleasure craft - but the double en-suite cabins have been replaced by seven single berths to take mixed crews.

And the flying bridge, normally somewhere for the crew to sun themselves, has been adapted to drive the boat standing up.

The boat is also heavily armed with black rubber fendering, “in case of bumps” by the trainee crew, said Hardy managing director Mark Funnell.

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The pair will be used for navigation and seamanship training, to give RNLI crew members day skipper and yachtmaster qualifications through the Royal Yachting Association.

Crew will spend days and nights on the vessel mainly off the south coast, said Mr Funnell.

He said the company was “very pleased” with its first prestigious order from the RNLI, which selected Hardy because of its track record of building offshore pleasure craft.

It was the first time the RNLI had used purpose-built vessels for such a task, having previously used modified boats.

The first boat, which will be used at the RNLI College at Poole, is named the Ian and Anne Butler after the benefactors who helped pay for it.

Hardy Marine has been at North Walsham for 27 years, having begun making smaller 18-20ft boats before expanding into bigger craft.

Mr Funnell said there was no problem having a boat building yard in landlocked North Walsham away from the sea and river - because access to the factory was better than it would be by a waterside.