AFTER eight years of fundraising to help put her together, a crew of sea rescue volunteers have finally got their new lifeboat.
The Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (Gafirs) held an official dedication ceremony for their new boat – named Jim and Mollie Newton – at the weekend.
It was named after a Shropshire couple whose generous legacy help fund the purchase of the rigid inflatable boat’s hull.
Kitting out the new lifeboat with engines, electrical equipment and water jet units has taken several years.
The volunteers also had to extend their base, in Lifeboat Lane, Stokes Bay, to fit the boat.
Crew members said the lifeboat beat all their expectations during recent sea trials.
It can tear through the water at more than 40 knots.
Gafirs chairman Peter Brown said: ‘It was fabulous seeing the lifeboat launched.
‘We now know it was well worth the wait.
‘We could have rushed the job and got it done sooner but that would have meant not fitting it to the same high quality it is now.
‘Now it is the biggest, fastest, and most sophisticated vessel we have ever launched.
‘Everyone is really pleased with it.’
Gafirs volunteers had completed most of the work kitting out the new lifeboat themselves, working weekends and evenings to get her operational.
The Halmatic Pacific 30 vessel is packed with equipment to help the volunteers rescue people from the sea.
It is capable of operating in all sea states and wind speeds that could be found in the Solent.
The lifeboat was dedicated during a ceremony on Saturday.
The vessel was officially named by Gafirs’ patron, record-breaking sailor Dee Caffari, from Titchfield.
Dozens of people turned up to watch the ceremony along with more than 100 invited guests.
The dedication was followed by a demonstration of the boat’s capabilities at sea.
Mr Brown added: ‘Everyone from the local community turned out to support us for the dedication.
‘I would like to say thank to members of the public and to readers of The News who have helped us and given us their support.’
Gafirs are on call 24 hours a day, throughout the year.
For more information, or to donate, visit gafirs.org.uk.