Visit to RNLI College, Poole

On Saturday 7 May members of the ITI Sailing & Boating Network and the ITI Wessex Regional Group visited the RNLI College in Poole. All lifeboat crew in the UK and Republic of Ireland are trained here and instructors travel to Africa, Asia and Latin America to train people involved in lifesaving activities there.

We started with lunch in the restaurant, with glorious views over Poole Harbour. Many translators work alone, as freelancers, so when we get together we never stop talking! There were ten of us, and we translate into English from Catalan, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish – and probably more languages that I have forgotten!

After lunch we met up with our tour guide, Nick, who gave us a very detailed and fascinating tour of the College. We learned about the history of the RNLI and the different classes of lifeboats, went into the simulation room where we ‘operated’ the controls of a lifeboat rescuing the crew of a burning oil tanker, then to the engineering workshops where the lifeboats are maintained and renovated. We also visited the factory where some lifeboats are being refitted following 25 years of service and where new monohull lifeboats are being built.

All the lifeboat crews, with the exception of those based at the Tower of London (the busiest lifeboat station), are voluntary and they are all kept very busy. Just in Poole they are constantly called upon to rescue paddleboarders who have drifted out to sea and dinghy sailors who have collided with the Sandbanks ferry, as well as other emergencies. The entire RNLI operation is funded from donations and legacies, there is no contribution from the government. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things!