RNLI Boathooks different colours

7th September 2009, 17:07
A colleague of mine builds models of lifeboats.

He is adamant that the boathooks port and starboard are generally different colours (port=white and starboard=blue). These look like grabrails either side of the superstructure, but are a bit low down for that purpose.

Is there a reason for this colour coding or is it just his perception of how things are??

All sensible answers on a postcard please................................(Thumb)

7th September 2009, 20:17
it all dates back to the days of the pulling and sailing lifeboats before motor, when each "bank" of oars were painted either blue or white, and stowed accordingly on their thwartes.

7th September 2009, 20:27
Thanks for that nhp651.

We were at an RNLI fundraiser last Monday and asked the question of the RNLI representatives there present. None knew the answer (and were obviously not old enough)!

I shall relay your answer to my colleague in due course. (Thumb)

20th September 2013, 10:32
It was done that way so that they could be distinguished when dark and the fact that blue & white were used on other parts of the boat so that you didn't need to have a lot of different colours of paint, just blue and white.

20th September 2013, 17:39
the real answer , to be pedantic, wasn't the matter of paints and other parts stowed, but the fact that in the early days of lifeboats the crew needed to be able to distinguish which way their coxs'n wanted them to pull........the terms for port and starboard in those "olden days" was actually Starboard and Larboard(port) but the two could not be distinguished in a shout from the cox on the tiller in a force nine gale so they had to devise some way of a shorter more concise method of the crew hearing an order to pull on which side of the boat, and so the oars were painted in the two very different colours......if cox wanted to pull the boat to starboard he would order/shout "WHITE" as the white oars were port side and the oarsmen would pull on white oars whilst blue oars to starboard would feather their oars. and vice versa if he wanted tho steer the boat by oar to port, the order of Blue would be shouted and the white oars feathered.............BLUE and WHITE could be heard above a storm even via lip reading, where as starboard and larboard were indistinguishable.

hope this explanation is more detailed ( and actually came from my old granddad who was contemporary with the cox of our old pulling and sailing lifeboat Maude Pickup off 1896 - 1930.