Never Turn Back – behind the scenes in Greater Yarmouth

Having a sea view from your hotel is a wonderful thing watching the tide coming in and out, but for lifeboat men around our shores it’s also a huge responsibility which comes hand in hand with living by the sea.

Jason always dreamed of being a lifeboat man, and joined the crew at Caister Lifeboat several years ago. As a seafront hotelier, he never know when he’ll get the alarm call, nor what they’ll find when they get there, but as soon as he gets the alert, he’s off to the life boat station as quickly as he can go.

At the station the crew get ready and launch the lifeboat as fast as they can, then head off in the direction of the incident, in constant contact with the coastguard. But it’s local knowledge of the currents, tides and swells which often saves the day, as well as the bravery of the Caister lifeboat men.

The saying ‘Caister men never turn back’ was coined by journalists in 1903 reporting on an inquest into an unsuccessful rescue during the Great Storm of 1901 when several crewman and sailors lost their lives. When asked why the crew had persisted in the rescue, retired coxswain James Haylett said, “They would never give up the ship. If they had to keep at it ’til now, they would have sailed about until daylight to help her. Going back is against the rules when we see distress signals like that.”

‘Never turn back’ later became an RNLI motto. Caister lifeboat men are rightly proud of their heritage and hold true to this mantra to this very day.