Exmouth RNLI launches during station open day to stricken yacht

Lifeboats News Release

Visitors to Exmouth RNLI’s Open Day witnessed a real-life emergency launch on Sunday when the station’s Shannon class lifeboat was tasked to a disabled yacht in Lyme Bay.

Supporters were enjoying having a look around the lifeboat station on Sunday (26 August) when the pagers sounded shortly before 12.30pm. The Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn launched in-front of a packed crowd in force 6-7 winds and wet conditions. In extremely rough seas, including waves 4-5 metres high, volunteer deputy coxswain Ian Taylor navigated his crew of six to the scene, arriving two hours later.

Once on scene the lifeboat crews found a Navy vessel providing shelter to the 28-ft vessel, which had suffered a broken tiller and was around three miles offshore. The two men onboard were both uninjured and happy to stay onboard, so they assisted the lifeboat volunteers in securing a tow line. The lifeboat then towed the boat around Portland Bill and into Weymouth harbour.

After ensuring the yacht and its two crew were safe in harbour, the lifeboat turned around and headed back to Exmouth.

Volunteer deputy coxswain Ian Taylor explained: ‘The yacht’s tiller had broken earlier in the day but as there was no working VHF radio on board the casualties sailed towards the land to get mobile phone signal in order to raise the alarm.

‘The forecast was certainly correct, and I think we experienced a few waves over five metres. It meant we had to proceed at a slower speed but the boat definitely proved its worth and capability in how well it dealt with the conditions. I have been to sea as crew in rough conditions but this was the first as coxswain, in charge of the boat and the volunteer crew, and it will definitely be a shout I remember.’

Weymouth’s all-weather lifeboat was on restricted service for a few hours on Sunday at the time the call came in due to a suspected fouled propeller, so its flank lifeboat station at Exmouth responded to the incident instead.

The volunteer lifeboat crew arrived back at Exmouth at around 8.45pm, eight hours after originally launching.

John Thorogood from Exmouth RNLI’s fundraising team, added: ‘Our grateful thanks go to all those who came along and supported our Exmouth RNLI Open Day on Sunday, and for turning out in unpleasant weather conditions. We hope you all gained an insight into the work of our RNLI volunteers and the equipment they use, and enjoyed the chance to watch a real life emergency launch in action.’

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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