Wells Lifeboat  RNLI Lifeboats Wells Norfolk UK
Wells Lifeboat

Welcome to Wells RNLI

Wells-next-the-Sea RNLI Lifeboat Station 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.

Recent Services

'Blucher' under tow

'Blucher' under tow in moderate conditions, 8/10/20

Safely back in the quay

Safely back in the quay, 8/10/20

8 October 2020

Humber Coastguard requested the launch of the all-weather lifeboat initially to a distress call from an unidentified vessel some 13 nautical miles north of Wells. The vessel turned out to be a local fishing vessel 'Blucher' with engine failure and electrical problems. Wells lifeboat launched from the boathouse, reaching the 'Blucher' which had anchored, an hour later at 10:00. A windfarm service vessel had stood by the 'Blucher' in case of further difficulty while awaiting the lifeboat. With a tow rigged, the lifeboat headed back through moderate conditions towards Wells, arriving at the harbour entrance at 11.43. Once safely inside the harbour, 'Blucher' was taken up to the quay and safely moored alongside by 12:20 before the lifeboat was recovered, refuelled and rehoused.

Weather Overcast/rain Visibility Good Wind SW5 veering NW Sea Moderate

24 September 2020

The inshore lifeboat was called out to rescue 2 persons in the water after their 4m inflatable dinghy capsized in the approaches to Blakeney harbour while they were fishing for mackerel. They were in danger of being swept out to sea on the ebbing tide. The ILB launched outside the boathouse at 14:30 and proceeded to the casualties' last known position at Blakney harbour entrance. The 2 persons were spotted at 14:46 and had fortunately managed to scramble onto the upturned hull of their boat which was, by this time, already three-quarters of a mile offshore on the outgoing tidal set and offshore wind. Arriving alongside at 14:51, the lifeboat ascertained that, apart from being exhausted, wet and very cold from being in the sea, the persons did not require any immediate medical assistance. The lifeboat took them onboard and rigged up a tow to their boat. By 15:05 the lifeboat and tow were inside the harbour and proceeded toward Morston creek. The lifeboat landed the 2 persons at 15:20 into the care of the local coastguard team and made sure their dinghy was safely ashore at Morston hard. With no further help needed, the lifeboat was released from the scene and returned to the boathouse at 15:25. It was washed down, refuelled and ready again for service by 16:30.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW4 Sea Slight

23 September 2020

Wells all-weather lifeboat was paged by Humber Coastguard to assist the local fishing vessel Ma Freen with 3 crew members onboard, which had suffered engine failure some 20 nautical miles from Wells. The ALB with a crew of 6 launched outside the boathouse on the first of the flood at 20:27. While en-route, the crew of the fishing vessel managed to carry out a temporary repair to the engine and had started making way towards Wells under their own power. Given the circumstances, it was deemed prudent that the lifeboat to continue to the fishing vessel and then escort her back to harbour. The lifeboat sighted the casualty at 21:32 and both vessels entered the harbour on the top of the tide at 23:20. The fishing vessel was safely alongside by 23:45 and the lifeboat returned to station for recovery on the East side of the boathouse. The lifeboat was subsequently washed down, refuelled and was ready again for service at 01:00 on September 24th.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW3 Sea Slight

17 September 2020

The inshore lifeboat was diverted from an exercise tonight to three persons who'd gone out to fish with rod and line on the marshes between Wells and Stiffkey but had misjudged the height of the tide and been cut off by the incoming tide on high sand in the creek system. The ILB diverted from its exercise to the casualties' indicated position arriving on-scene at 19:07. With the help of the local coastguard at the Stiffkey vantage point, they were quickly able to reach the persons at 19:22. All were ok and the inshore lifeboat landed them safely at Stiffkey greenway. The lifeboat was released at 19:45 and returned to the boathouse. It was washed down, refuelled and rehoused by 21:00. This was the second incident this week to persons cut off while fishing between Wells and Stiffkey.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind NE4 Sea Slight

15 September 2020

Humber Coastguard paged the Wells Inshore Lifeboat at 16:55 to rescue two persons who had gone out onto the marshes to fish with a rod and line but had miscalculated the time of high water and had been cut off by the incoming tide. The ILB launched at 17:05 and headed via the quay into the creeks. The lifeboat arrived on-scene at 17:22 but was unable to see the casualties at their reported position. The local coastguard team had travelled to their Stiffkey vantage point and sighted the two persons on higher ground considerably further to the east.

The ILB proceeded towards them, sighting them at 17:40 before eventually having to wade through shallow water, leading the boat, to reach their location on the sands at 17:55. One of the persons was struggling with a pre-existing leg injury which had been aggravated by walking on the marshes and was placed on-board the lifeboat. The other person plus the crew then waded with the boat back towards deeper water. The ILB then exited the marshes to seaward returning along the coast to Wells harbour entrance before dropping the persons off at the sailing club slipway in the town at 18:40. The lifeboat was washed down, refuelled and rehoused by 20:00.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind NE3 Sea Slight

'Milly T' under tow

'Milly T' under tow, 13 September 20

13 September 2020

Wells Lifeboat was paged to assist a 10m fishing vessel Milly T with one person onboard which had suffered engine failure on passage from Grimsby to Wells. The skipper had tried to repair the engine without success and in doing so had aggravated a pre-existing medical condition. He requested assistance from the coastguard before dropping anchor south of the Docking Shoal, about 12 miles north-west of Wells. The all-weather lifeboat with a crew of six launched outside the boathosue on the ebbing tide at 18:00 and sighted the vessel by 18:30. Arriving alongside at 18:50, a crew member was transferred onboard to assess the skipper's medical condition and assist with rigging a tow. Thankfully, it was established that the skipper did not require any medical assistance. Before a tow could be set up, the lifeboat crew member had to clear the vessel's anchor which had become entangled in some fishing gear when deployed. The tow back to Wells commenced at 19:03 with an ETA of 20:15 by which time there would be insufficient water left in the harbour to bring the fishing boat in.

Given the favourable conditions, in consultation with the Wells harbour master, it was decided the best course of action would be to anchor the fishing boat in safe water just west of the harbour entrance overnight to await the morning flood tide when the habour launch would kindly bring it into port. It was agreed that the vessel's skipper was well enough to remain onboard and would prefer to do so so the vessel was anchored at 20:17 and the lifeboat crew member returned to the lifeboat which then proceeded to a low water recovery on Holkham beach, coming ashore at 20:37.

The lifeboat was washed down, refuelled and rehoused and ready again for service at 22:30. The Wells harbour launch brought the fishing boat into harbour at dawn the next day.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW3 Sea Slight

'Pegasus' under tow at Blakeney

'Pegasus' under tow at Blakeney, 6 September 20

6 September 2020

Wells Lifeboat was paged at 06:11 by Humber Coastguard to assist a 26’ yacht Pegasus with 2 persons onboard which had run aground in the entrance to Blakeney harbour. The yacht had sustained considerable rudder damage leaving the rudder jammed hard over to starboard. The all weather lifeboat launched outside the boathouse on the first of the incoming tide at 06:42 and was alongside the yacht at 07:20. A decision was taken to place a lifeboat crew member onboard the yacht and rig up a tow to bring the vessel into Wells harbour where repairs could be undertaken. The tow was not made easy by the yacht's jammed rudder causing the tow to be difficult to control in the seaway. The lifeboat entered Wells harbour and yacht entered Wells harbour at 08:40, shortening up the tow once in the harbour channel. The yacht was safely placed on a drying mooring near the outer harbour at 09:10 and her crew transferred to shore before the lifeboat was recovered onto its carriage at high water south of the boathouse at 09:20. The lifeboat was subsequently washed down, refuelled and rehoused later in the day once the tide had fallen sufficiently.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind W4 Sea Slight

1 September 2020

At 16:00, a family found themselves cut off by the incoming spring tide on a spit of sand off Holkham beach and raised the alarm. UK coastguard paged Wells inshore lifeboat at 16:04 and the lifeboat launched with a crew of three at 16:16. The two adults, child and dog were visible from the boathouse and the lifeboat arrived with them at 16:24 by which time the rising water was washing around their knees. Other than being wet, the casualties were fine and the ILB brought them safely back to the boathouse from where they were able to return to their car. The lifeboat was washed down, refuelled and rehoused by 17:00.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW3 Sea Slight

Landing a person at Holkham Beach, 23 August 20

Inshore lifeboat landing a person who was cut off on dunes on Holkham beach, 23 August 20

23 August 2020

Wells Inshore Lifeboat was paged by following a 999-call from a person cut off by a spring high tide on a dune on Holkham Beach. The ILB with a crew of three launched outside the boathouse and proceeded towards Holkham Beach via the main channel. The lifeboat arrived on scene at 10:00 and quickly located the person in difficulty. The lifeboat crew ascertained that she was ok and ferried her to safety on dry land at the beach at Holkham Gap. The lifeboat was rehoused, refuelled and ready for service at 11:00

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW4 Sea Slight

21 August 2020

Wells inshore lifeboat was requested to launch following a 999 call from two people cut off in the marshes between Wells and Stiffkey on a flooding spring tide in fading light. Launching from the boathouse, the ILB proceeded to the reported position of the casualties. Arriving on-scene at 20:49, the ILB searched the area but could not locate the persons, nor could local coastguards see them from their vantage point.

A second 999 call from the two persons reported that they had been forced by the rising tide to move in a north-westerly direction to find higher ground. They also advised that their phone battery was running low and were not getting a good reception. The ILB put a crewman ashore south of East Hills to search on foot. At 21:30 after an extensive search, the crewman spotted the mobile phone light of the two persons on the sands to the north of East Hills. Meeting up with them, he ascertained they were both well and needed no medical assistance. The ILB arrived at 21:49 and ferried them back to the boathouse where they were met by the local coastguard. They were then able to return to the their car which was in Wells. The ILB was was rehoused and refuelled by 22:20.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW4 Sea Slight

20 August 2020

The inshore lifeboat launched in response to a 999 report of four people cut off by the tide on the beach between Wells and Holkham. With high water on a spring tide just passed and a number of groups of people still on the beach, the ILB searched the foreshore with no persons in difficulty found. The local coastguard team also attended and searched along the beach, also with nothing found.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW2 Sea Slight

20 August 2020

The inshore lifeboat was paged following a 999 call reporting three people in the distance cut off by the tide on Bob Hall sands to the north of the boathouse. As the crew were about to launch, three persons were seen to be walking back towards the harbour channel with a canoe on a trolley. With no other persons visible and the canoe safely launched and on its way, the lifeboat was stood down.

Weather Fine Visibility Good Wind SW2 Sea Slight

Latest News

Work starts on new boathouse

Mon 14 Sep 2020

Lifeboat crew and management volunteers on the beach at the start of building work

Lifeboat crew and management volunteers on the beach at the start of building workRW

Work begins clearing the site and the base of the beach bank

Work begins clearing the site and the base of the beach bankRW

Work has started on building a new lifeboat station for Wells RNLI at Wells next the Sea. 

Completion is expected in 2022 and the new Wells Shannon class lifeboat, which was part funded by a successful local campaign in 2014-2015 and part by the Civil Service charity The Lifeboat Fund, will arrive in Wells shortly afterwards.

The new, bigger boathouse is required to house the Shannon class lifeboat which will replace the now 30 year old current Mersey Class lifeboat 12-003 Doris M Mann of Ampthill. With the RNLI's newest, purpose-built Shannon lifeboat, the rescue service provided by the volunteer crew at Wells will be using the best equipment available to make their job safer, faster and more effective. The boathouse will be located beside the beach bank near the Beach Café and the Coastwatch hut and will replace the old boathouse which is more than 125 years old. 

The RNLI and Wells Lifeboat Station will be working closely with the contractors, JT Mackley and Reside Construction, the Port of Wells and Holkham Estate to ensure that safe access to the beach and the car park is maintained for members of the public throughout the project. Regular updates will be posted on our website as well as being signposted at the beach car park, the Beach Cafe and Pinewoods. We will be posting images and reports of the progress of the project on a new boathouse build page.

Please get in touch via our contact form or by e-mail if you have any queries relating to the project.

See all news...

Boathouse Build

New boathouse build

Work has started on our new boathouse! See news story below for more information or view photo gallery.

The new building will will take around 18 months to complete with work preparing the foundations and piling for the building and ramp scheduled to take place from September 2020 to May 2021.

The building is required to house our forthcoming new Shannon-class lifeboat which 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 even further afield. Your contribution is appreciated and will help to save lives and keep our volunteeer crews safe in the years to come. Read more about the station appeal

COVID-19 restrictions

Wells lifeboats and the lifeboat crew remain operational and ready to launch if needed during the coronavirus outbreak. Training and exercises have been suspended but as of August are being gradually reintroduced.

All public visits to the lifeboat station are cancelled. Please do not enter the boathouse except by prior arrangement.

All our usual public and fund-raising events and activities over the Summer have had to be cancelled, including our annual lifeboat service and our open day and open evenings. We're sorry not to be able to meet and chat with you as we usually do and thank you for your support during these difficult times.

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.

Training exercises have been suspended during the pandemic but are now gradually being restarted. However, we are not able to advise dates in advance at this time.

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)2005-2019 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