This was an island nation cross-hatched by rivers, canals, lakes, and estuaries. Lives were often endangered or lost by those who underestimated the sea. The Inspector glanced toward shore to see if the coroner’s van had arrived. He wasn’t surprised to find residents hovering beside the parked police van where men pulled out a stretcher to transport the victim. The Royal Nationals rescued people every day. By now, everyone should be used to the sight of their lifeboats coming to shore. Yet no one could adjust to the fearful doubt that filled their hearts and minds whenever a lifeboat appeared. They wondered if it was a spouse, a child, or a neighbor, not knowing if they survived or if they were far away beyond the caress of the endless surf.
-- Excerpt from The Tide Turns
Living smack-dab in the middle of a massive country, I was oblivious to the profound presence of water in an island nation. I never gave it much thought until I traveled to the UK where I found myself waterlogged by meandering rivers, muddy estuaries, trout-filled streams, calm canals, squidgy beaches, and the restless Atlantic ocean. It became clear that I had to include the unforgiving sea in my mystery, as it is an elemental part of life in Barrington Bay.
Wherever there is water, there is the danger of drowning. My research took me to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, a volunteer network of forty thousand courageous souls who jump in lifeboats to rescue those stranded at sea at a moment's notice, saving countless lives and educating generations about water safety.
Within the UK, the RNLI rescues--on average--twenty-two people every day. As they like to say, "ordinary people doing extraordinary things." The cost of their brave service has been the loss of more than six hundred volunteer lives since the institution's inception in 1824. Its long-standing charitable organization and commitment to water safety is simply stunning. Grab your tissues and read some of the witty, wry, and wise personal accounts of Royal Nationals from their online magazine.
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