As an RNLI ambassador we have added a new addition to our fleet of vessels. We have managed to acquire an original Atlantic 21 as used by the RNLI for inshore rescue purposes.
The Atlantic 21 was a fantastic vessel used by the RNLI as part of the B-class of lifeboats that served the shores of the UK rescuing holiday makers and seafarers alike.
The vessel was the first generation ‘Deep V’ fast boat and she has a 200 gallon water ballast system built into the hull. A large integral fuel tank was added to supply her two very powerful engines. She was developed at Atlantic College in South Wales which was used for development and training by the dedicated staff and volunteers. It also has its very own inshore lifeboat station, opened in 1963 as one of the first experimental centres established in the UK by the RNLI.
They built 96 boats in total from 1969 – 1994 and they remained in service until early 2007.
‘Longlife 1’ was built in 1982 and stayed in service for 15 years as part of the relief fleet from 1982 – 1985, It was then sent to MacDuff from 1985 – 1986. Portaferry were next to use her from 1986 – 1993, Falmouth took charge from 1993 – 1996 until she eventually returned to the Relief Fleet from 1996 – 1997. Kilrush was her last port of call before she sadly retired from service in 1997.
The summer of 2017 was the first season that ‘Longlife 1’, renamed ‘Warrior Spirit’ enjoyed her new home in the sunshine of the Ionian sea. It seems a fitting way to spend her later years, being looked after by our dedicated team here at ‘Dragon Drascombe’.
Whilst we were refurbishing her over the winter in preparation for the coming season in Greece we came across an old RNLI name given to her during previous lifeboat service. We had removed the name boards from the vessel and were preparing them for a re-paint, as we sanded them a faint but clear name, ‘Constance Macnay’, began to appear through the layers and layers of existing paint.
After some research and digging around we found out that she was bought by a gentleman by the name of Major Basil RF Macnay. He donated the boat to Queensferry Lifeboat station and named her after his late mother, Constance Macnay.
She was in service in Queensferry from 1981 to 1997 and part of the relief fleet from 1997 to 1998. She operated for one year at Clifden before being sold to the Finnish Lifeboat Society in 1999.
But there are more twists and turns to the tale. It turns out that that the name ‘Constance Macnay’ was not actually allocated to this particular vessel. Upon removal of the various floor panels, a recognisable registration number was found painted in black on the fore deck floor.
The number B-536 relates to another Atlantic 21 that was allocated to Sheringham lifeboat station in the county of Norfolk on the 18th April 1992 after service in Peel on the Isle of man from 1976 to 1989 and part of the relief fleet from 1989 to 1992. She replaced the all-weather lifeboat ‘Lloyds II’ to usher in a new era and operating scope at her new home.
Initially there was some sadness and apprehension regarding their loss of ‘Lloyds II’ but B-536, which was built in 1976, would prove to be a formidable RNLI support vessel. She was four times faster than her predecessor, easier and faster to launch. She had the capacity to work in shallower waters and would make a very large contribution and improvement to the rescue cover along the beautiful North Norfolk coastline.
She was called to service 19 times during her short stay on the station. Her first service taking place on the 18th June 1992 when she launched to assist the mighty fishing boat ‘Charles Mark’ which she escorted back to Sheringham beach in large seas. During 1993 the lifeboat was kept very busy and called into action 11 times and proved vital to the well being of various seafarers.
She joined the Relief Fleet in 1993 when replaced by ‘RNLB Lions International’ (B-539) and stayed there until 1997 before moving to Helvic Head. There are no records to indicate that she was ever given a name during this period.
So it seems that the nameboard ‘Constance Macnay’ was put on board by mistake, possibly while going through the decommissioning process.