breeches buoy

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  • Maritime History
  • Warfare and Defence


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A ring lifebuoy fitted with canvas breeches used by the Coastguard Service for lifesaving when a ship ran aground on a coast and was in danger of breaking up or sinking. Contact with the wrecked ship was made from the shore by means of a line fired from a Costain gun. A jackstay was then rigged between ship and shore, and the breeches buoy, supported in a sling attached to a traveller, was hauled back and forth between ship and shore by an endless whip along the jackstay. The seaman being rescued had his legs through the breeches to give him support as he was hauled ashore. The breeches buoy was then hauled back empty to the ship for the next man to be rescued. The advent of helicopters has made this method of rescue all but redundant.

Breeches buoy

Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.

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