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Another possibility is that the waves were so big that in a trough the Solomon Brown literally hit the seabed. If I’m ever up Whitby way I’ll definitely see about a ride on their Watson lifeboat.

There’s a decent collection of historic lifeboats at the dockyard at Chatham. I’ve a feeling they have a couple of Watson-type boats there but it seems to be difficult to find out much about the individual boats online, and it’s a while since I visited.