The Ryde Lifeboat
Isle of Wight Observer May 1 1869
We recently took occasion to announce that the want of a lifeboat at Ryde was about to be supplied by the liberality of Captain Hans Busk, the well-known and acknowledged originator of England’s Volunteer Army. We are now in a position to state that the boat is completed, and will be ready for launching on Wednesday next.
It is accordingly proposed that the new boat shall, on the above day, be escorted through the town by a body of volunteers who have been specially invited to attend. Lady Ranfurly has kindly consented to grace the ceremony with her presence, and her ladyship will bestow upon the boat the name of her patriotic and gallant donor.
The lifeboat, as soon as launched, will be exercised by her crew; after which, a lunch will be served at the Pier hotel, and the day’s proceedings will terminate with a ball at the Town-hall.
The fund, from which the cost of the boat has been defrayed, was subscribed by those who knew how earnestly, how strenuously, and how laboriously Capt Busk had toiled for years in overcoming all opposition to the establishment of that magnificent Army whose motto has ever been, “Defence, not Defiance”. Those who advocated the movement, and who appreciated as they deserved Capt Busk’s energetic exertions in his country’s name, determined long since to present him with a handsome and an adequate testimonial, to be preserved as a memento of his proud achievement by him who, in the words of the Times, was unquestionably “the earliest and most strenuous advocate of the Volunteer system when in its infancy, who has continued lecturing and writing and counselling upon the subject up to the present hour, and was for some time alone in pressing the subject upon the public.”
Capt Busk, however, on every occasion upon which the offer was made, firmly and unhesitatingly declined altogether any testimonial of a personal nature. On being requested to suggest any record of his services that would be more congenial to his feelings, he most generously and unselfishly proposed that so much of the money destined for his acceptance (as would be required to cover the cost of a first-class lifeboat with gear, sails, stores &c., and all appliances) should be appropriated to that purpose, and that the balance should be disposed of to deserving charities. To this noble proposition the subscribers cheerfully and readily acceded, and upon a representation to the effect that a lifeboat was much needed at Ryde, Capt Busk at once agreed that the one destined henceforth to bear his honoured name should be stationed on the pier at Ryde.
The following are the particulars of the boat in question: The “Captain Hans Busk” has been built by Messrs White, of Cowes, on the most approved principles, and in the most substantial manner. Her top sides and all the watertight compartments are constructed (the latter of two thicknesses) of the best Spanish mahogany. The lower part of the hull is of seasoned wych elm. The extreme length of the boat is 30ft; her beam 6ft; depth, 2ft 4in. She is protected with oak belting, and is provided with twenty-four ash oars, twelve rowing and two steering galvanised iron rowlocks, and two galvanised iron boat-hooks, with ash staves. The boat is fitted with two masts, one yard and outrigger, one higsail, foresail and mizen (and two sailcovers), halliards and sheets fitted, a painter, a pair of yoke lines, and a galvanised iron tiller, &c. Among the stores are two lifebelts; a water bailer; one grapnel, 10lb weight; a patent anchor, 56lb weight; 100 fathoms of best whale line; 30 fathoms of 4in hemp cable; two breakers and one canvas boat-cover, together with a supply of (Ward’s) cork jackets for the crew. In addition to the boat, Capt Busk has provided a suitable and strongly-built carriage and wheels, for the transit of the boat overland, when requisite.
NOVEL SIGHT FOR THE FIFTH OF MAY – It is announced that the lifeboat will, after having been launched, be exercised by the crew. We should have thought that it would have been better to have exorcised the crew, instead of the boat. However, the committee must know best. We hope that if the boat shows that she appreciates the exercise, that she will be invited to the lunch.
A volume said to be written by Hans Busk and sold to raise funds for the lifeboat, has recently come to light. Maiden Hours and Maiden Wiles, designed by ‘Beaujolais’, and published in 1869 by Henry Sotheran, comprised 20 cartoons, showing ‘in a playful and satirical manner, an insight into the hourly occupations and pursuits of the Damsel of the period’. These cartoons had accompanying verses by poets such as Byron and Spenser. Three illustrations from the book can be seen on the Miscellaneous Gallery page.