And no – they’re not endurance swimmers. Ernest and Mary Shaw is the name of the Campbeltown RNLI lifeboat.
The RNLI’s end of year report showed that she logged 750 hours at sea, more than any other lifeboat in UK waters.
With her base at Campbeltown, in the south of the long Kintyre peninsula and the NW of the massive Clyde waterway giving on to the North Channel out into the Atlantic, the Ernest and Mary Shaw is, at 17 metres, the biggest type of the RNLI’s lifeboats – a Severn class, designed to go 50 miles out to sea and with a top speed of 25 knots.
She’ll stay afloat wit two of her five compartments flooded. She’s got a bow thruster for added manoeuverability and her twin engines are enclosed so that she can take ground without doing them any damage.
She’s seen a lot of action in the past year, much of it in rough conditions – as was the case in her most recent outing: on 16th January 2012 she went to the assistance of the FV Amy Harris, which suffered an engine room fire and, with her crew unable to access the wheelhouse, was drifting helplessly off the entrance to Campbeltown Loch.
By the time they were finished, this was an eight and a half hour shout – talk about starting the year as you may well go on.