RNLI's figures released

The RNL’s fleet of 330 lifeboats launched a total of 7,656 times, rescuing 7,507 people – an average of 21 people every day – in 2004.

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station overall was Tower Pier on the River Thames, which launched 322 times and rescued 134 people.

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station on the coast was Poole, in Dorset, with 132 launches, resulting in the rescue of 151 people. Followed by Exmouth lifeboat station, in Devon with 110 launches rescuing 77 people, and Southend-on-Sea lifeboat station in Essex launched 108 times and rescued 132 people.

Fifty two per cent of rescues involved leisure craft (motor boating, sailing, windsurfing, etc); twenty seven per cent of rescues were to people without craft (swimmers, walkers, etc); thirteen per cent were to commercial and fishing vessels; and eight per cent to ‘others’.