The RNLB Guy and Clare Hunter
A brief history and background to our famous and historic Lifeboat Guy and Clare Hunter
The “RNLB Guy and Clare Hunter” was built by Samuel Whites yard in Cowes, Isle of Wight for St Marys, Isles of Scilly lifeboat station 1955.
Guy and Clare Hunter is registered with the National Historic Ships Register
Coxn Matt Lethbridge B.E.M. 1955 TO 1981
March 1967 Stood by largest tanker wreck in British waters “TORREY CANYON” landed survivors and salvage crew when ship started to break up, 32-hour service.
May 1967 stood by and towed to Newlyn, 130-ton motor yacht “BRAEMAR” which had ITN camera crew on board to film the return of Sir Francis Chichester on his solo round the world voyage in his yacht GYPSY MOTH 1V. Braemar began taking in water in gale to severe gale-force winds and heavy seas.
The vessel and all crew were saved but one young man died the next day of heart failure.
Length of service 27 hours. Coxn., Matt Lethbridge awarded his first R.N.L.I. Silver medal for gallantry. Second Cox Roy Guy and boat engineer Bill Burrow were awarded Bronze medals, the other 5 crew awarded the Institutions thanks on Vellum
February 1970 Saved 10 crew from Swedish vessel “NORDANHAV” when her cargo of loose grain had shifted in heavy seas 35 miles from the Scillies at night. Lifeboat and crew took a ferocious pounding during this service when on more than one occasion the lifeboat was over the submerged deck of the rolling ship. Matt Lethbridge awarded his second Silver medal. Roy Guy and Bill Burrow were awarded their second Bronze medals and other crew members were awarded thanks on Vellum.
Matt awarded B.E.M. 1975.
February 1977, Sunday 13th 2 am to French trawler “ENFANT DE BRETAGNE” aground on rocks near the famous Bishop Rock Lighthouse in a near gale from Southwest and heavy swell. Lifeboat taken through the narrow channel over the half-sunken wreck. Sea breaking right over rocks 30 feet high on the port side, in the pitch dark. Two fishermen or possibly three sighted, lifeboat cleared narrow channel and turned around to have another go but the men had gone in that short time.
Matt was awarded his 3rd Silver medal for the heroic attempt which regrettably was not successful. He said afterwards that as he re-entered the channel he had no idea how he was going to affect a rescue without the very real danger of losing the lifeboat and his own crew. Roy Guy and Bill Burrow again received the Bronze medal and the rest, the thanks on Vellum. All of them and especially Matt, to this day, was saddened at failing in this rescue.
Many other rescues which did not hit the headlines but resulted in the saving of a total of 130 lives were carried out by this boat with Matt at the helm.
“”Guy and Clare Hunter”” was replaced as station boat at St Marys in 1981 by the new Arun class lifeboat “Robert Edgar”, still with Matt as Coxn.
“Guy and Clare Hunter” was allocated to the reserve fleet which provides back-up boats when front line lifeboats are due for an overhaul or damaged on active service.
After the disaster of December 19th 1981 which claimed the Penlee lifeboat “Solomon Browne” and her crew of 8, a new young crew was immediately formed and they specifically asked for “Guy and Clare Hunter” to be their station boat, such was her reputation for bringing her crew home safe. She remained on station at Penlee until their new Arun class boat “Mabel Alice” arrived.
She then remained as part of the reserve fleet up to her disposal into private ownership during 1988.
“Ex R.N.L.B. Guy and Clare Hunter” is one of the very few ex lifeboats outside of museums which is maintained to as near original as possible and remains in full sea-going condition.
It is a real pleasure and a privilege to own such a fine vessel.
We have some pictures of the Guy and Clare Hunter in action during the Fastnet Race.
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