Cowes Lifeboat was originally an independent service, formed in 1988 after a horrific crash between a hydrofoil and a fishing boat. It was successfully crewed and saved many lives until 2008, when legislation was changing, and it was no longer affordable to run an independent service in Cowes.
The Cowes Independent Lifeboat 1988-2008
In 2008, a formal request was received by the RNLI to take over the CILB. The request was accepted, and in July 2008, Cowes RNLI was formed. Many of the crew members continued on from CILB.
The CILB station was a small, temporary building in Shepards Wharf Marina, with the lifeboat being housed on a floating air berth. The RNLI adapted this air berth and placed an Atlantic 85 on service in it.
In 2009, the RNLI purchased the Old Customs House in Cowes, and in 2012, the new Cowes Lifeboat Station opened!
The new Cowes Lifeboat Station is in one of the port’s most historic maritime settings. This lifeboat station began life as a Watch House for HM Customs Service in the very late 1600s. For centuries, small boats were housed here, ready to launch into the harbour to board and search suspicious vessels arriving in the port. In the 1980s, the boathouse was converted into an office space.