Nothing was amiss however, as both crews were in the middle of a succession of training exercises being undertaken by the volunteer crew and skippers of Wetwheels to ensure that their skills, and therefore the safety of their passengers, were well and truly rehearsed, should any emergency occur. This was the first of a series of joint exercises that Wetwheels wants to run in conjunction with various rescue services.
The RNLI crew demonstrated how they stretcher casualties and then transfer them from the casualty vessel to the All-Weather Lifeboat, either manually or using a hoist. Wetwheels has recently been fitted with a similar block and tackle system for assisting with the retrieval of a “man overboard” which in this instance was a dummy. Both crews took time to practise and refine the techniques for this, and the RNLI were able to offer simple but effective revisions and additions to Wetwheels’ already good practice.
Finally, Wetwheels launched an expired life raft so that crew could experience what it is like to board, stay in, and alight from such a raft. Wetwheels often carries passengers who are wheelchair users, and this adds an extra dimension to the techniques that need to be thought through. Annually Wetwheels aims to take over 1000 passengers to sea, who otherwise would not have access to the joys of boating. The youngest passenger was 2 whilst the oldest to date was a spirited 97 years old!
Wetwheels tries to ensure that beneficiaries are active participants, rather than simply passengers and that they have the opportunity to steer the vessel, learn seamanship, gain knowledge of the local maritime features and history and try their luck at fishing alongside their peers, friends and families.
The experience is truly inclusive, helping to improve aspirations and increase confidence.