Ramsgate RNLI launch in horrendous conditions to rescue a stranded boat
The night of Saturday 6 October was wet and wild when a Pan-Pan call was received at 8.04pm from a heavy 20 metre ex Danish trawler adrift in the Traffic Separation Zone mid way between France and England.
The Guard vessel, which is a vessel used to protect vulnerable installations such as exposed cables or pipelines, was adrift in the shipping lane due to engine problems.
A Pan-Pan is not quite as severe as a Mayday but is still an emergency request with no imminent risk to life, however the position of the boat meant that action had to be taken immediately . The Ramsgate all-weather lifeboat was launched within minutes and set off to locate the guard vessel which was about 15 miles out as the crow flies, however a longer journey due to having to skirt round the Goodwin Sands.
The Guard vessel had arrived on station the previous day having motored down from Grimsby with its three crew onboard for the start of a three week rota. They were guarding an uncovered portion of the Nemo Link® subsea cable which runs between the formerly occupied Richborough Power Station, and a similar converter station in Herdersbrug in Bruges where their role is to keep fishing vessels away from the cable.
On scene with winds gusting to over fifty knots North Eastly, the fourteen metre all-weather boat Esme Anderson managed to throw a heaving line (a lightweight line with a weight attached at the end and used to pull a heavier line across) to the twenty metre casualty, who was then able to pull the tow line across. Once attached, the crew started the long slow tow back to Ramsgate but this was not without adventures.
After approximately three hours of towing, the tow line chaffed , then snapped and was lost at the casualty end. The lifeboat crew then pulled all the one hundred and sixty metres tow line back in by hand. This may sound easy, but in the dark with strong winds, large wave heights, extreme swell and pouring rain the crew were forced to be on their knees to do any manoeuvres, and thenmade ready for a second attempt.
The casualty vessel still had the heaving line on board so they reversed the earlier operation by throwing it to the all-weather lifeboat, allowing them to re-attach the tow rope, which was again pulled on board by the casualty crew. Once re-attached to the casualty the RNLI Esme Anderson was then able to continue the tow safely into Ramsgate harbour arriving shortly after midnight.
The skipper of the Guard vessel expressed his gratitude to the volunteer RNLI crew who are prepared to go out in all weathers. All three of the crew were under no illusions that this was a dangerous situation to be in and were delighted to see the lights of the all-weather boat coming through the night. The engineer is currently working on the boat and they hope to be able to return to sea shortly.
Karen Cox Lifeboat Press Officer firstname.lastname@example.org tel 07779 848431.
Paul Dunt RNLI Regional Media Officer London and South East email email@example.com tel 07785 296252.
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.