The Happisburgh lifeboats


Current Happisburgh Lifeboats

Information on the Lifeboats at Happisburgh

D-607 Spirit of Berkhamsted D-Class Lifeboat
D-607 Spirit of Berkhamsted D-Class Lifeboat

“Spirit of Berkhamsted”. Arrived on Station October 2003 after the Naming Ceremony, which was held in Berkhamsted, after the Branch there raised the money for the boat in nine months. This boat was the latest of the D-Class, the IB1; it’s still on service at Happisburgh.

landingInformation on the IB1
Year introduced: 1963, but design has continued to evolve ever since
Number in fleet: 155
Length: 5m beam/width: 2m
Displacement/load: 400kg
Launch: Trolley
Fuel capacity: 68 litres
Crew: 2–3
Maximum speed: 25 knots
Range/endurance: 3 hours at maximum speed
Construction: Hypalon-coated polyester
Engines: 1 x mariner 50hp
Survivor capacity 5


May 8th 2017 saw volunteers move into the 21st century with the arrival of a new Atlantic 85 on station. This Atlantic 85 Number B-899 is named Howard Bell; who was part of the RNLI in Harwich and is the main benefactor for this boat. There have been 3 Atlantic 75 lifeboats at Happisburgh since the first arrived in 2009; with the arrival of this brand new Atlantic 85, which has larger engines, is longer and wider than the 75, has radar and DF (see console photos) and carries a fourth crew member, it is well equipped to enable our crews to carry out rescues at sea more effectively.

Atlantic Information
Year introduced: 2005
number in fleet: 95
length: 8.44m
beam/width: 2.85m
Draught/depth: 0.53m
Displacement/load: 1.8 tonnes
launch : Carriage,
fuel capacity: 210 litres
crew: 4
Maximum speed: 35 knots
Range/endurance: 3 hours
Construction: Hull: carbon fibre and foam core laminate.
Structure: includes epoxy glass and foam sandwich layup.
Inflatable collar: hypalon-coated nylon.
Engines: 2 x Yamaha 4-Stroke 115hp each
Survivor capacity: 20

Communications and navigation

Fitted and hand-held VHF (very high frequency) radio
Crew Intercom
Onboard global positioning system (GPS)
VHF direction-finding (VDF) equipment
Electronic chart plotter with SAR functions

Douglas Paley returning to station by Philip Smith-1To enable the lifeboat to be launched and recovered in all states of the tide requires sophisticated launch and recovery vehicles. To this end we are equipped with a ‘Bendy’ tractor – this tractor is articulated and thus highly manoeuvrable , uses a hydrostatic drive system and the driver sits on a seat that swivels so that he can quickly change from ‘launch mode’ where he pushes the carriage into the sea when launching or recovering the lifeboat. He then turns the seat into ‘drive’ mode where he is facing the road and drives out of the sea.

IMG_3245-1The large tyres give a combination of good grip and spreads the weight enabling it to operate on hard and soft sand.

It is equipped with a powerful winch at the rear – this gives it the capability of recovering the trailer or itself if it gets bogged down in soft sand / mud. It can also be used to pull out other stranded vehicles.

In the unlikely event of ‘Bendy’ getting bogged down and the tide is coming in – the doors, top hatch and engine exhaust can be secured and the vehicle abandoned until the tide goes out – it is designed to withstand being fully submerged.

This is a vital part of our equipment and our bank of drivers undergo extensive training to operate it. At times it requires a very high level of skill to successfully launch and recover the lifeboat which can be at any time day or night, winter or summer

Live launch pager alertIf you are interested in being notified when one of our lifeboats are being launched then you may wish to download the RNLI Live Launch Desktop Pager for Windows and Mac users here

The Desktop pager is directly linked to our crew pagers.  When the crew are mustered by a pager call, it triggers a Desktop pager alert (Desktop pager by design has a 20 minute delay) . However, there are occasions when lifeboats launch without being paged.  This could be because they are on exercise, are attending in support of another lifeboat or because the crew have been summoned by other means.

The Desktop pager can therefore best be taken as an indication of lifeboat activity rather than a definitive account of launches.