Thomas Langlands the Coxswain of Whitby Lifeboat Station was a native of Sea Horses in Northumberland. He had been a member of the Whitby Crew since he was eighteen and had risen to the No.1 position through his wide knowledge of seamanship and wide experience of the hazards of this stretch of coastline.
When the Coastguard maroons sounded the alarm, he made his way down to the West Pier where his volunteer crew was assembling at the Lifeboat Station.
The wind was gale force and the sea was running at such a level that it was impossible to launch the No.1 boat, Robert and Mary Ellis. The ramp down which the heavy boat had to be manhandles was being so buffeted by the waves that the boat would be dashed to pieces before there was sufficient depth to float her off the carriage.
The high waves at the harbour mouth made it totally impractical to sail the No.2 boat, John Fielden, out from the mooring with only the power of its fourteen oarsmen.
The only thing to do was to wait until daylight and see what conditions were like then.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981