From the deck of a luxury liner to the helm of a rescue lifeboat - the two worlds of Jonathan

Jonathan Davies has a day job which would be the envy of many. As first officer on one of the world’s most luxurious cruise liners, he is used to travelling to tourist hotspots around the globe.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 12:20 pm
Jonathan Davies, from Fleetwood, as an RNLI volunteer. In his day job, he is first officer on the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth

Jonathan Davies has a day job which would be the envy of many. As first officer on one of the world’s most luxurious cruise liners, he is used to travelling to tourist hotspots around the globe.

But when he gets back home to Fleetwood, he swaps his smart blue jacket and white peaked cap for a pager, orange oilskins and wellies.

That’s because Jonathan volunteers to save lives at sea with Fleetwood’s RNLI lifeboat crew.

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The cruise ship Queen Elizabeth

You would imagine that cruising the world on luxury liners would be enough for most, but Jonathan had always been fascinated by a life on the lifeboats.

He often watched the local lifeboat launching when on visits to the beach, but in 2009, he and his family attended the local lifeboat station’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The attraction to join was too strong to resist and at 17, he joined the RNLI volunteers in Fleetwood.

However, although Jonathan is qualified to helm the 294m-long cruise ship Queen Elizabeth, he still has a lot to learn on the lifeboats.

He is a qualified navigator on Fleetwood’s all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, Kenneth James Pierpoint, but he is still in training to helm the RNLI’s five-metre long in-shore lifeboat, Harbet.

Jonathan said: “Being in the RNLI is about more than just saving lives at sea. The term Lifeboat Family is often used at stations to describe the relationship between crew members.

“The RNLI is not just a part of my life when the pager goes off, but a cornerstone to the life that I have built since joining the crew. Fundraising and social events are equally as important in forming a successful crew as the exercises and services that we undertake.”

Jonathan remembers his first call-out, to a small boat with two people onboard, which had broken down and was drifting out to sea.

He also recalls Ernie, the horse stuck in mud at Knott End and Poppy the dog, which had been swept out two miles by the strong tide and current. Both had favourable outcomes. But it wasn’t all animal rescues. He also remembers the family of four, cut off by the tide and by the time the in-shore lifeboat reached them, the children were being held out of the water by their parents. Definitely four lives saved that day.

But it’s taken a long voyage for Jonathan to get here.

As a youngster, he knew all about the Pandoro boats which frequented Fleetwood at the time and had ambitions to be a captain of one of these ferries. He also knew that to be a captain of a ship, he’d have to attend Fleetwood Nautical College. In 2010, thanks to an offer from James Fisher & Sons, a marine specialist services company, he started as a student, qualifying as Officer of the Watch, before further studies took him to Chief Mate certificate in 2016 and this year, he passed his Master Mariner certification.

Jonathan’s links with the nautical college continue to this day, as he is now a Lecturer in Maritime Studies.

But Jonathan’s first ship posting gave little evidence as to where he’d end up. When he joined the Clyde Fisher, a 127-metre tanker on the Manchester Ship Canal, its destination was Holland.

But in 2014, Jonathan joined Carnival UK, a cruise ship company and operator behind P&O and Cunard cruise ships.

As Third Officer, he sailed on Azura and Oriana, before promotion to Second Officer took him onto the Oceana and Ventura.

In the midst of the pandemic, he joined Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 2020 and has been sailing in the rank of First Officer.

Jonathan’s ambitions are still strong, not least with his colleagues in the RNLI, where he hopes to one day be coxswain of the town’s lifeboat.

But does he have a preference for either

lifeboat ?

He says: “Both boats bring their own unique qualities to a rescue. An in-shore lifeboat shout may involve searches in shallower water or parts of the river you wouldn’t otherwise see.

“The Shannon is capable of fighting through almost any sea conditions to save someone in distress. Being a crew member on both boats provides a wide variety of challenges and you never know what they will be when the pager goes off.”