Town turns out to say farewell to Filey lifeboat after 30 years of proud service at sea

For 30 years, the Mersey class lifeboat has watched over the people of Filey.

And at dawn on Thursday they came out to bid the all-weather vessel farewell as it left Coble Landing for the final time.

The RNLI lifeboat, named Keep Fit Association, has served the station since 1991 and is now being retired from operational duty.

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A six-man crew volunteered to sail it to Lowestoft, where its future will be decided.

A fond farewell for the lifeboat

The departure was a poignant moment for older crew members, as the age limit for manning its replacement, an Atlantic 85 vessel, is 55, meaning many of them will have to themselves retire from the sea, though they will continue to serve in shore-based roles.

Despite the 5am sailing, there was a healthy turnout from supporters of the station, many of them from old fishing families living locally.

Keep Fit Association has been launched over 350 times in the past 30 years, though its mileage is lower than many would expect as most of its call-outs are to incidents within 30 miles of Coble Landing.

Some of the most memorable rescues it has participated in include the towing of the yacht Araxian to Scarborough in bad weather at Filey Brigg in 2002, during which an RNLI crewman was washed overboard and had to be retrieved.

The tractor tows the ALB off Coble Landing for the final time

In the same year, the vessel was called to the aid of another yacht, Kilpeacon, which ran aground near Flamborough Head at night, rescuing the crew and salvaging the boat.

The 1998 RAF Tornado jet crash in the North Sea required a large-scale rescue operation, and the ALB alongside its Bridlington RNLI counterpart searched for 13 hours for two missing airmen.

The crew also attended the MS King Seaways ferry fire off Flamborough Head in 2012, when a Newcastle to Amsterdam service had to return to port after a fire was started in a cabin.

They responded to a fire on board a survey ship in March 2019, rescuing the crew and towing the vessel to Scarborough.

Six volunteer sailed the lifeboat to Lowestoft

Three fishermen were also saved when their trawler sank off Filey Brigg in 2016.

Station press officer John Ward said: "The crew are sorry to see the boat go and some crew will have to retire from sea-going duties as the age limit is 55.

"But times change and it's expected that the new boat will be much busier.

"The younger crew in particular are looking forward to being on the Atlantic 85 boat. It does 35 knots (about 40/45 mph) and could be in Scarborough within 12 minutes of launching.

Keep Fit Association departed with the morning tide

"It's the end of an era but the beginning of a new chapter in the 217-year history of Filey RNLI".

Townspeople gathered for the farewell