Hamble Lifeboat – The Full Monty

The Hamble River is to yachting what Amsterdam is to bikes – a haven; where lovers of cruising, racing and messing around in boats congregate. The shores are speckled with homes costing millions and away from the water’s edge some people live in small rented apartments, yet out on the water, we are all the same. Everyone who uses the Solent’s waters as their playground must navigate the tricky waters, with its sand banks, double high tides and busy shipping channels.

Hamble Lifeboat-4_main smaller

Image Copyright Tina Chisnell Photography

To stay safe, you must have skills, understand rules of the road, know how to navigate and be aware of the weather amongst other dangers. Occasionally things go wrong. If you ever have to make a stomach churning Pan Pan or Mayday call you know that help will come. What you may not know is the fact that the Solent has the highest concentration of independent inshore Rescue services in the UK, Hamble Lifeboat being one of them. That means that they are not part of the RNLI. As an independent charity, they raise every penny from fundraising and charitable donations themselves. Operating from the foreshore in the village of Hamble, the service has been running since 1968 and is crewed by a team of 22 dedicated volunteers. Over the years, they have responded to thousands of emergencies and saved hundreds of lives.

Last year, the Hamble Local Ladies in Business group fleshed out an idea which called for their assets to be bared for a Calendar Girls style photo shoot to raise money for the local lifeboat. Dave King, one of Hamble Lifeboat’s crew, said at the time, “We are grateful to these businesses for their daring fundraising initiative and we’re particularly grateful we got to keep our gear on for the shoots we were involved with.” This year, the ladies took their naked ambitions a little further by suggesting – The Full Monty Calendar 2015. The men, in true heroic style accepted.

The woman behind the camera

Tina Chisnell’s striking black and white images were such a success during The Calendar Girl campaign, that it was an easy decision to choose her again. Tina told me why she was excited to be involved.

“I moved to Hamble in 2012 when I got married. People knew me as Mark Chisnell’s wife. It wasn’t until I joined the ladies business group and did the shoot that I really got to know the women of Hamble. That’s when I became Tina Chisnell the photographer. Hamble is a really friendly community, people care. I love that everything takes ages, probably two hours longer than it’s supposed to because you’re constantly stopping and chatting.”

Tina is not a sailor (yet) and said: “I’m doing this not only for the lifeboat but because I enjoy the way every business in the village promotes and supports each other so we can all thrive. Having the launch at Sea Sky Art is a great opportunity to go out and meet up with everyone. Hamble is a fun place.”

I asked if she found photographing the men much different to the women. “The guys were a little more risqué than the girls,” Tina said, giggling. “We did the shoots during the summer holidays in broad daylight and it was more about asking the men to keep themselves covered rather than coaxing them to reveal a little more. The women were much shyer.” Describing one month’s image:

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Image Copyright Tina Chisnell Photography

“At one point there were ten men lined up on the High Street,” she said, pointing to the cobbles, “With only a tiny apron covering their credentials.” Tina had to be snappy with her shutter.

The Lifeboat crew were ballsy enough to go first. Tina said it was really good to have them involved this time. “It was funny really, because it was about three in the afternoon when I came down, so we went out in the boat to get away from prying eyes. They were very brave actually. They set the standard.”

“And your favourite shot?” I asked.

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Image Copyright Tina Chisnell Photography

Tina fluttered her dark eyelashes and smiled. “My favourite shot was completely accidental. One of the guys was just messing about. Just one of things you haven’t planned. A beautiful moment.”

Fun times were a plenty it seems as Tina recalled the morning she photographed the Foxer Fleet on Hamble’s foreshore. “One of the guys was coming down from London but hadn’t turned up but we did the shoot anyway. The guys pleaded me with to wait and redo one of the pictures.” Tina agreed to wait another ten minutes. “So, he turns up and the guys are shouting at him, telling him to hurry up and get his kit off. I told him he could keep his boxers on. He took everything off. He just stood there – naked! The guys were laughing and he had no idea why. He’s looking at me as if to say, ‘Why aren’t you taking photographs?’ Nobody could speak. We were all laughing so hard. That was hilarious.”

The Launch Party and the men

The calendar was launched at a glamorous party at the Sea Sky Art Gallery in Hamble. The men who I’ll now refer to as ‘models’, were fully clothed and wore red buttonholes. I noticed how they lingered under their photos, a look of pride on their faces. Some had been bashful, others a bit more brazen and now all were happy with the result.

Launch party

Image Copyright Tina Chisnell Photography

Liam Dobbin, lifeboat coxswain said, “I was apprehensive at first, but let’s say I got to know the crew a lot better than before.” James, nicknamed ‘Hobbit’ was happy that his square and hairy feet were hidden from view.

James Godwin, the chief cox, nudged me, “There was an incident on the water while we were doing the shoot. A driver got distracted and bumped into another boat! Normally we would spring into action, but we looked at each other, shook our heads and decided… no.”

I couldn’t figure out what type of business Accrete Professional Services was so sought out Mr August, the man with the bowler hat. “Professional services?” I said, raising an eyebrow. “I live in Hamble and work in the city as a self employed Investment Banker,” Richard Heyman told me. “My wife runs a business here too. Incidentally, she’s the current Miss October! It’s all rather naughty and jolly good fun.”

Peter Delbridge from Boatshed Hamble is a yacht broker. He had taken a tipple or two by the time I got around to chatting with him. “Would you like me to sign your calendar?” He asked, revelling in his celebrity status. How could I refuse? He told me he would probably get a lot of ribbing for his part in The Full Monty.

The Calendar

January – The King and Queen
Would you have the bare faced cheek to ask for pizza and a pint?

February – Pinnacle Performance and Training
Toned and buff at the gym.

March – Boatshed Hamble
Buy a boat. They’re liberating.

April – The Bugle
Grade II listed building, a pub where more than the beams are exposed!

May – Ye Olde Whtye Harte
The naked chefs lark about but Stewart keeps a firm grip on his London Pride.

June – Compass Point Accommodation
Wear what you like in bed. Dickie bows shall be worn at breakfast.

July – The Victory
Celebrate your victory with a pint and ten lettered men.

August – Accrete Professional Services Ltd  Tel 44 7887 928007
Richard Heyman, an investment banker who likes to keep his hat on.

September – Banana Wharf
They’re a fruity bunch. Champagne anyone?

October – Foxer Fleet JJR Electrical
Sparks may fly when these foxy guys get the wind in their sails.

November – Bonne Bouche
Fancy getting sandwiched between these lads?

December – Hamble Lifeboat
The Cox said, ‘Helmets on’.

How to get a calendar

Your donation can save lives. Each and every penny from the sale of the calendar goes directly to the Lifeboat and costs ten pounds.

Buy online

Or pop into one of the following shops or businesses in Hamble

Banana Wharf
Ye Olde Whyte Harte
The Bugle
The Victory
King and Queen
Blue Bijou
SeaSkyArt Gallery
Bonne Bouche

As a sailor, I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored the production of Hamble’s Full Monty. A complete list of those generous people can be found here.

Meraid Griffin

Freelance writer, adventurer and public speaker. Descibed in the Sunday Times as a 'modest explorer'. Nothing modest about me.

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