Wells Lifeboat  RNLI Lifeboats Wells Norfolk UK
Wells Lifeboat

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Welcome to RNLI Wells

The RNLI Lifeboat Station in Wells-next-the-Sea houses an all-weather lifeboat and an inshore lifeboat to save lives and assist with emergencies around Wells and off the North Norfolk coast. Manned by volunteer crews, the boats are ready to launch within minutes, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. This website will tell you more about the station and give you a taste of what we do and the traditions of the lifeboat service.

New boathouse build

New boathouse build
Updated 9/5/2022

See boathouse build pages for the latest information on our new boathouse building.

Sea Safety Guide

Wells Beach Safety leaflet

Download our new local map and guide for enjoying the coast and beaches at Wells and Holkham... see our new Sea Safety Page

RNLI Wells Lifesavers Fund

RNLI Wells lifesavers fund

Recent Services

25 May 2022

Humber Coastguard paged the all-weather lifeboat to assist a 45' motor cruiser Viking 2 on passage from Lowestoft to Hull which had got into difficulties off Titchwell. The vessel was making no headway in choppy conditions and two of the four crew onboard were suffering badly from seasickness. The lifeboat launched outside the boathouse at 15:49 and proceeded out of the harbour and set course to rendezvous with the cruiser. The lifeboat sighted the cruiser at 16:16 and was alongside at 16:22. Two crew members were placed onboard to assess the situation. As the cruiser was seemingly operating well under power, it was decided that the lifeboat crew would promptly navigate the vessel to the safety of Wells while there was still sufficient tide to enter the harbour. The cruiser set course for Wells at 16:28, with the lifeboat escorting, and was safely moored on the pontoons in the the outer harbour at 16:46. The crew onboard required no medical attention and recovered from their seasickness once they reached more sheltered waters. The lifeboat returned to station and was ashore at 16:56 and rehoused and refuelled at 18:30.

Weather Overcast Visibility Moderate Wind W4 Sea Slight

Wells Lifeboat alongside the sunken speedboat off Brancaster, 16/5/22

Wells Lifeboat alongside the sunken speedboat off Brancaster, 16/5/22

The sunken boat being towed to the beach for subsequent recovery, 16/5/22

The sunken boat being towed to the beach for subsequent recovery, 16/5/22

16 May 2022

Humber Coastguard paged both Wells lifeboats for an immediate launch after they had received a distress call by mobile phone from a person whose boat was sinking to the north of Brancaster Golf Club. The phone conversation was cut off while the person was trying to provide further details. The Inshore lifeboat launched at 06:40 followed by tha l-AlWeather Lifeboat at 06:47 and both boats headed for Brancaster at full speed.

At 07:00 Humber Coatguard received a call from the skipper of the boat who had managed to swim ashore and contact them using the emergency contact phone located outside the golf club indicating that he was alright but his boat, a 16-foot speedboat, had sunk.

The Inshore Lifeboat was on scene at 07:10 and rendezvoused with the skipper on the beach. He was wet and cold. Once he had confirmed the position of the sunken boat, the inshore Lifeboat took him up to the slipway at Brancaster Staithe as the beach road was flooded on the Spring tide. He was met there by the waiting Coastguard team at 07:30.

The Inshore Lifeboat had managed to mark the sunken boat with a lifejacket attached to a mooring line and had passed its position to the All-Weather Lifbeoat. The ALB arrived at 07:28 and quickly located the sunken boat. The stern of the speedboat was on the seabed as the boat had a powerful outboard attached however internal buoyancy within the hull meant that the bow was just floating on the surface of the water.

The speedboat was deemed to be a danger to shipping. When the ILB returned alongside the ALB, it was decided that the crew would get a line on the speedboat and try to tow it to the foreshore. Once the tow line was fast, the All-Weather Lifeboat commenced the tow toward the beach subsequently passing it to the Inshore Lifeboat when the water started to shallow toward the beach. The Inshore Lifeboat managed tow in and beach the craft and then the crew were able to work the vessel further up the beach till it was high and dry as each rolling swell came onto the beach. With the speedboat safely made fast on the shore to enable further recovery and no longer a danger, the lifeboats left the scene at 08:30 and returned to station. The lifeboats were ashore outside the Boathouse at 09:05 and were washed down, rehoused and refuelled by 10:00.

Weather Overcast Visibility Moderate Wind E3 Sea Slight

Lifeboat launching off Holkham beach, 15/5/22

Wells Lifeboat launching from Holkham beach to the yacht 'Fantasma', 15/5/22

Off Wells beach, the yacht is brought alongside the lifeboat prior to being safely berthed, 15/5/22

Off Wells beach, the yacht is brought alongside the lifeboat prior to being safely berthed, 15/5/22

15 May 2022

The 8m yacht Fantasma contacted Humber Coastguard when some 10 nautical miles north of Titchwell. The yacht, with one person aboard, was in difficulty with an apparent gearbox failure, unable to make headway under sail and rolling heavily in the seaway. The All-Weather Lifeboat was paged at 11:05 and left the boathouse at 11:26 for a low-water launch in Holkham bay. The lifeboat launched at 11:57 and proceeded towards the last reported position of the yacht just north-east of the Burnham Flats buoy. Arriving alongside at 12:45, a member of the lifeboat crew was transferred onboard and a tow rigged. The lifeboat towed the yacht to the approaches to Wells where it had to wait for around 40 minutes for the evening tide to flood sufficiently to be able to safely enter the harbour channel. The yacht was brought safely alongside the pontoons in the outer harbour and at 16:45 the lifeboat returned to the boathouse where it was recovered, refuelled and rehoused.

Weather Overcast Visibility Moderate Wind E3-4 Sea Slight

30 April 2022

The inshore lifeboat was paged for a group of 8 people plus dogs cut off by the incoming tide on the sands to the west side of Wells harbour entrance. The boat launched outside the boathouse at 16:27 and proceeded toward the harbour entrance and was on scene at 16:34, the group being clearly visible from the boathouse. Some of the party had managed to wade to the safety of the main beach, leaving 3 persons and 3 dogs on the high sands to be rescued. Having ascertained the group were all well, the lifeboat ferried them to the beach at 16:42. The ILB then returned to station and was washed down, rehoused and back on service again at 17:00.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind NW3 Sea Slight

23 April 2022

Both Wells lifeboats were on a routine exercise in Wells harbour when the local NCI Coastwatch lookout identified a windsurfer in difficulty, unable to sail back to the foreshore in a strong ENE wind. Humber Coastguard asked the ILB to attend at 11:45 and the lifeboat was on-scene at 11:48. The windsurfer was found to be alright but unable to recover his board. The ILB ferried the windsurfer to the beach and then, with the aid of a fellow windsurfer, brought his board ashore as well. The ILB then returned to station at 11:58. The all-weather lifeboat stood by in case further support was needed before also returning to station.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind ENE5-6 Sea Slight

21 April 2022

The inshore lifeboat was paged to assist two kayaks who were reported by a local ferry operator to be at risk of being swept out to sea by the ebbing tide at Blakeney harbour entrance. The ILB launched outside the boathouse at 12:42 but was stood down shortly after as it had been ascertained that the kayakers were now back in the safety of the harbour channel.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind ENE4 Sea Slight

17 April 2022

Wells Inshore Lifeboat was paged to 2 persons and a dog cut off by the tide in the marshes at Stiffkey. The ILB launched just before high water outside the boathouse at 19:15 and proceeded east along the coast. The local coastguard team had sight of the persons who had used the what3words phone app to help pinpoint their position. The coastguards were able to help guide the ILB into the creeks and to the casualties by 19:36. The unharmed persons were taken on-board and ferried across the creek to the waiting coastguards. The ILB returned to Wells, arriving at 19:57 and being washed down, rehoused and refuelled by 20:30.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind S3 Sea Slight

16 April 2022

A 999 call to the Coastguard reporting 4-5 persons cut off by the incoming tide opposite Wells beach huts prompted a second callout for the inshore lifeboat. The ILB launched outside the boathouse at 16:01 but no persons in difficulty in the reported location could be seen. The ILB proceeded to check along the channel and then west along the foreshore where, at 16:10, one person was found cut off. The person was landed into the care of the beach warden at 16:20. The ILB made further checks before returning to station at 16:28. It was recovered and rehoused by 17:00.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind S2 Sea Slight

16 April 2022

The inshore lifeboat was paged to a report of 2 persons and a dog cut off in the harbour channel at low water. As the crew assembled, it was ascertained that the persons were safe and the boat was stood down.

Latest News

David J Cox BEM 1926-2022

Wed 27 Apr 2022

The RNLI station flag is being flown at half-mast in mourning for the renowned Wells lifeboat coxswain, David Cox, who died on Sunday 24 April, aged 96. During his long and distinguished service, he received 5 awards from the RNLI for courage, determination and excellent seamanship.

David was born in Wells-next-Sea in 1926 into a family of fishermen, a life which he inevitably followed. It took him on transatlantic cargo trips to America, fishing for whelks out of Wells harbour, and in time, becoming coxswain of the Wells lifeboat.    

As a boy David would race to the beach when the launch maroons went off from the lifeboat house indicating danger at sea and help to launch the lifeboat. In 1945, at the age of 19, he volunteered as a member of the lifeboat crew, following in another family tradition. In 1960 David took over as Coxswain of the lifeboat from his uncle, William Cox.

His most difficult rescue, for which he was awarded a prestigious silver medal, was on 15 February 1979 for the service to the Romanian cargo ship Savinesti with 29 people on board. The Romanian ship had engine failure eleven miles off the coast of Wells. The weather was so severe that neither the Sheringham nor Cromer lifeboats could reach the ship. The Wells 37ft open lifeboat Ernest Tom Neathercoat launched and David and his crew reached the vessel, despite the lifeboat's radar freezing and poor visibility because of the snow. With the assistance of the Humber lifeboat, which escorted the Savinestito safety, all lives on board the vessel were saved. In summary, David and his crew were at sea for 11 hours 24 minutes that night, in violent storm conditions with very heavy swell and unbelievable seas, poor visibility and sub-zero temperatures.

During his time as Coxswain, he was also awarded a Vellum for the service to yacht Kiskadee in August 1964, a framed letter of thanks for the yacht Kalin in September 1966, a Vellum service to the MFV Pilgrim in tow of the tug Superman in October 1973, a bronze medal for MFV Sarah-K in November 1982 and a framed letter of thanks for service to the tug Dockman in April 1983.

David retired from the lifeboat at the age of sixty in 1986, having handed on his vast knowledge of the sea and seamanship to the volunteer crew members who had joined under him. Before he died, he recorded his memoirs, which have been a fount of knowledge for the RNLI. Wells Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said "David was an inspiration as Coxswain to all lifeboatmen throughout the Institution, particularly for his courage and unwavering determination to saving lives at sea off our coastline. He actively continued that commitment throughout his retirement years and was a great ambassador for the RNLI, often recalling in great detail the difficult 'shouts' he had taken part in, which totally captivated all those who were listening. David's time served in Wells will never be forgotten and his longstanding contribution to the RNLI will live on in his memory - he was a legend!"

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New Shannon lifeboat
and boathouse build

New boathouse build
Latest update 9/5/2022

The RNLI is building a new lifeboat station at Wells ready for a new Shannon-class lifeboat be delivered to the town later this year. See boathouse build pages for the latest progress on construction work.

The new boathouse will take around 18 months to complete and is expected to be finished in June 2022.

It will house our inshore lifeboat and the forthcoming Shannon-class lifeboat which is currently being built at the RNLI's All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole. The new boat, no. 13-46, will be named 'Duke of Edinburgh' and is expected to arrive in Wells in the Autumn.

The new lifeboat was funded in part with a station appeal for £250,000 in 2014-15 and also by the Civil Service charity The Lifeboat Fund with its 150th Anniversary Appeal. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has donated, fund-raised, helped and supported us both locally and across the UK and further afield.

COVID-19 restrictions

Public access to RNLI stations is permitted again so we are delighted to be able to welcome vistors to the station once more but we remain keen to protect our crews and ensure the lifeboats can be manned if needed while the virus is still in circulation. Casual visitors can pop in when the station is manned but please contact us in advance for groups or organised visits and please leave it for another day if you or someone you have recently been in close contact with has Covid symptoms or a positive test.

Exercise Launches

Our next scheduled exercise launches are shown below. You are welcome to come and watch the lifeboats launch on the beach at the front of the lifeboat house... but please ensure you keep well to one side and that children are supervised. Exercises may be cancelled or rescheduled at short notice due to operational reasons.

Please take care near building works for the new lifeboat station.

Tuesday 31 May 2022 18:00
Regular exercise

Thursday 16 Jun 2022 18:00
Regular exercise

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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity, registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). This website is managed and maintained by local volunteers at Wells-next-the-Sea Lifeboat Station and is not the main RNLI site. All text and images copyright (C)2005-2021 RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station, or as indicated, and may not be downloaded, copied or reproduced elsewhere without prior permission of the station or the relevant copyright holder. Site Manager