The new Lytham St Annes lifeboat has already been involved in a rescue even before it reaches its new base.
The £2.2m Shannon craft left the RNLI HQ in Poole, where it was built, on Wednesday and is due to arrive at its new Fylde home on Sunday afternoon.
But on its way to its first overnight base at Brixham, Devon, the Shannon was called into action to help tow a stranded yacht towards Weymouth harbour ahead of the Weymouth lifeboat taking over.
Lytham St Annes RNLI spokesman David Forshaw, pictured, said: “It was an earlier call than expected, which went very smoothly and very good start to the Barbara Anne’s career.”
A crew led by Lytham St Annes’ deputy second coxswain Tom Stuart travelled down to Dorset to pick up the Barbara Anne and it is sailing via Brixham, Newlyn in Cornwall and Kilmore Quay in Ireland before spending Saturday night at Holyhead, Anglesey.
From there it will head for Fylde, where it is set to beach at 1.24pm on Sunday – timed to tally with its operational number 13-24 – before arriving at the lifeboat house on St Annes promenade at around 2pm.
David added: “The excitement is certainly building and everyone is really looking forward to welcoming the Barbara Anne.”
RNLI officials are expecting crowds to greet the Shannon’s arrival and have paid tribute to the generosity of the Fylde public in raising more than £270,000 in just over 18 months to help fund the vessel.
Digby Moulden, chairman of the station’s Shannon Appeal, said: “Thank you to all who have contributed. The Barbara Anne is larger, faster and safer to operate than her predecessor so has potential to save more lives.”