Exmouth's new RNLI boathouse is finally operational

EXMOUTH'S new state-of-the-art lifeboat station finally went operational this weekend - almost a year behind schedule.

EXMOUTH'S new state-of-the-art lifeboat station finally went operational this weekend - almost a year behind schedule.

Twice plagued by problems with its concrete ramp, the multi-million pound RNLI boathouse had been due to open early this year.

The RNLI said the move to the new station, near the Maer, would allow the crew to give 24-hour cover.

On Friday evening RNLI divisional inspector Adrian Carey finally gave the go-ahead for the all-weather and inshore lifeboats to operate from the station.

The inspector passed the station after witnessing the crew carry out boat launching and recovery procedures.

Mr Carey said: "The RNLI operates a truly joined up lifesaving service at Exmouth and I am looking forward to our lifeguards making use of the facilities that have now been made available by vacating our previous inshore lifeboat facility.

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"This will now become a much needed area support centre for the life guarded beaches in the local area, further enhancing the efficiency of our vital services."

Twice this year work was suspended at the new boathouse, and proposed operational dates scrapped, because the concrete ramp was plagued with problems.

Concrete panels had to be removed and replaced on two separate occasions after they began cracking when the crew carried out trials, towing the all-weather boat up the ramp to the new boathouse.

The RNLI was forced to carry out tests in a bid to get to the root of the problem.

Kevin Riley, Exmouth lifeboat operations manager said: "I know we have one of the best boathouses in the country and one the crew and town needed to allow us to be operational 24 hours a day - and provide the service of saving lives at sea 24/7 every week of the year.

"To have our volunteer crews out of those cabins and into these new facilities is such an asset.

"All this would not have been possible without the generous donations from the public, whether that be pennies in the tin or tens of thousands of pounds, we should all be very proud of what has been achieved."

Exmouth coxswain Tim Mock said: "It is a very proud moment in my career to be involved in a new state-of-the-art boathouse.

"To have been involved with the concept, design and build phase was challenging but equally rewarding."

The official opening of the boathouse has been planned for sometime in 2010 once the crew has settled into the new surroundings.