Ironing the Sea and Good News…

RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland' on exercise in the North Sea...

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I recently shared an acrostic poem on Facebook that I stumbled across in an old school magazine. I wrote it aged 9 years old:

Rescuing people in rough seas,
Nearing to the shore,
Leaning over the side of the boat,
Ironing the sea.

Last week, some thirty years on, I finally ironed the sea myself on exercise with the Tynemouth Lifeboat crew.

The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
Looking astern on a glorious evening in the North Sea…

If you happen to follow my Instagram feed, you’ll have seen the story unfold including an image posted from the North Sea!

It turned out to be a great week all round as I received some good news too — my project proposal has filtered its way through the appropriate channels of protocol at the RNLI.

With their full blessing and cooperation, I can pull together the beginnings of the Lifeboat Station Project.

Now, as an official fundraiser for the RNLI, it’s simply down to me to make the project come alive.

I’ll announce the itinerary for the first stations as soon as possible — stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, back to Monday night…

On a glorious evening aboard the Tynemouth Lifeboat, RNLB ‘Spirit of Northumberland’, the sound of the two 1500hp MTU engines was magical as we headed out to sea.

The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
Heading out to sea…
The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
The starboard engine — 1500hp of awesomeness…

As I settled into the trip, I realised I’d never quite experienced this sensation before — that of a childhood dream coming true.

I kid you not. As a young boy, I used to think about photography and Lifeboats all the time. I even set about building a scale model of an Arun class with my Dad, working to some plans we’d obtained from Poole.

Of course, I realised my ambition of becoming a photographer. However, I’d stepped on many a Lifeboat but never actually been out to sea on one.

The meaty all-weather vessels have always been my favourite, so to venture into the North Sea on a 42 ton Severn class really was the perfect scenario.

The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
RNLB ‘Spirit of Northumberland’ on exercise in the North Sea…

It was quite something to see the crew at work, each slotting quietly and naturally into their respective tasks aboard the boat.

Such friendliness and camaraderie too. It was clear to the crew that I was enjoying myself, so I was invited to ‘stop on’ for the second exercise — an evening that just got better and better.

I especially loved standing on the flying bridge — a duplicate set of controls above the wheel house, high up in the open enabling a clear view for miles.

To be offered the wheel (under strict supervision!) as the sun set over the North Sea was an experience that will live long in the memory; a really special insight into the awesome power and control of these marine machines.

The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
From the flying bridge…
The RNLI Tynemouth Severn Class Lifeboat, RNLB 'Spirit of Northumberland'
Busy in the bridge…

Check out the roar as we fly along at 25 knots. Not as loud as the old Caterpillars, apparently, but a healthy roar nonetheless:

My thanks to the crew of the Tynemouth Lifeboat for their warmth and generosity. In particular:

  • Michael Nugent (1st Coxswain)
  • Ian Black (2nd Coxswain)
  • Dave Thompson (2nd Mechanic)

If you’d like to become a Friend of the Lifeboat Station Project, click here to find out how.

Or maybe there’s a Lifeboat Station that particularly resonates with you?

If so, please drop me a line to pre-order edition prints from any of the stations that I’ll be visiting.

Jack Lowe on the Tynemouth Lifeboat
Wearing my yellows and fulfilling a childhood dream…


  1. Fantastic Jack, to realise a childhood dream is something special! Wonderful images and great news, congratulations! Look forward to the first images, best wishes, Jane

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