Interview – Graham Sale – RNLI New Brighton Operations Manager

graham_sale_rnliGraham Sale has a background with the HM Coastguard and as a Deputy Launch Authority at the station, his role involves everything operational and crew orientated.

Q: What area does the station cover?

We cover the River Mersey from beyond Widnes Bridge and into Liverpool Bay as far as The Bar plus the Sefton and Wirral coastlines.

Q:What are your most common shouts?

People cut off by the tide or stuck in the extensive areas of mud on the Wirral and Sefton shores. The complimentary capabilities of our lifeboat and hovercraft enable us to deal with shallow water or dry land requirements which is where the hovercraft comes into its own. Its vital people find out about the tides and take notice of warning signs – the tides come in very quickly in this area and its easy to get caught out.

Another common shout is to craft with machinery or equipment failure and not infrequently shortage of fuel. Its important to take sufficient reserves to get you back home against a tide on the ebb. The Mersey has the second highest tidal range in the country and can flow in and out very fast.

Q: What was the worst call out in 2013?

I can answer that question best using three examples:

The greatest threat to life this year was probably in early June when a teenage girl who had gone swimming, late evening off from the Derby Pool and was in difficulty and being washed out to sea on an ebb tide. We managed to find her and when we got her on board the lifeboat she was shocked, cold and we gave first aid in response . We took her straight back to the lifeboat station to a waiting team of paramedics who treated her for cold and sea water intake and she was then taken by ambulance to hospital.

The most hazardous conditions for our crew was in October when our crew were called to assist the crew of the crane barge working on the sea wall in the Gladstone Dock area when its lost some of its gear and was dragging its anchor during high tide with a Force 7 storm blowing in from the North West. In the end the lifeboat stood off for several hours in very difficult conditions in case they were needed to get the crew off meanwhile two tugs managed to take the crane barge in tow and get it safely into Gladstone Dock. We were joined on that one by Hoylake’s lifeboat.

The most likely shipwreck was in July when a 60ft yacht with crew on board became grounded on the groyne by New Brighton lighthouse. The yacht was lying at an acute angle and the tides was on the ebb, when our helmsman and senior crew saw the situation they estimated that they had a maximum of 10 mins to get a line on the yacht and tow it off the groyne. It was a team effort with the Marine Fire & Rescue craft and a lifeguard jetski who had also reached the scene. We managed to pull it off stern first while the Marine Fire & Rescue pulled the bow clear. It turned out to be a very close call.

Q: What are the biggest challenges the station currently faces?

Our biggest challenge is achieving unhindered access to our main launch site at Victoria slipway in an emergency. This has become more of an issue due to the very welcome increase in popularity of New Brighton in recent years. We are working with the local authority and they have been very helpful and hopefully some of the plans in hand will help the situation.

Graham added ‘We would like to give a very big thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped us make a difference’

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