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My lifejacket saved my life

Lifeboats News Release

The day started well, but ended unexpectedly, it can happen to anyone. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and Ian’s day was one of those. Despite his many years of sailing experience even the most prepared sailors can get caught out. He never thought he would be calling a mayday that day

On 31 August, the weather started with sunny and bright conditions with a little wind and was a perfect day to take out the boat. The lifeboat crew pagers sounded, but this was a direct page from the Coastguard, which is something that rarely happens as the Coastguard would normally page the Portishead Duty Launch Authority and discuss the problem with them and then the DLA would page the crew. The Coastguard had received a mayday call from a yacht saying that they had a man overboard and the lifeboat volunteers knew this was a serious call out.

Peterborough Beer Festival III, the relief Atlantic 85 lifeboat currently based at Portishead, was launched at 12.22pm. The weather conditions were worsening, so the crew launched with best speed and headed to the reported position of the casualty vessel. Working closely with the Coastguard Helicopter crew who were flying above, the casualty vessel was quickly located. As the lifeboat arrived on scene it was a relief to see that somehow the man that had been overboard was back in the stricken yacht. His crewmate had managed to recover the skipper back on board.

Jake, RNLI crew volunteer, went on board the casualty vessel to see how the two sailors were. He checked them over for any injuries and although the skipper, Ian was cold, wet and had a few minor cuts and bruises, he seemed to be ok. Jake asked what had happened, and Ian replied, ‘I tried starting the outboard to pull us away from Battery Point and it ripped off and pulled me in [to the water].’ Asking his crew mate Jake said ‘Did you get him back on the boat?’, ‘Yes’ he replied. ‘Well done, so you did all the steering and got him back on board? Do you sail a lot?’ ‘Not at all’ he said. ‘You did all that, you should be proud of yourself. That’s amazing especially in these waters.’

Jake kept a close eye on the two men, especially Ian as he had been in the water. Jake soon noticed that Ian’s behaviour had changed, and he became increasingly concerned that his condition was deteriorating. ‘I noticed that he started to go quiet and then it looked like he was going to go unconscious. It didn’t feel right and I just knew I had to get him off the boat. I tried to have a laugh and a joke with them to keep spirits high, but then the atmosphere changed after I got him into some warmer clothes. That’s when I radioed the boat and said to the Helm Andy, that we needed to get them off.’

The lifeboat crew radioed ahead and asked for further medical assistance and requested an ambulance to meet them at the Marina. They were met by more support from the Portishead Coastguard team and RNLI shore crew from the station. Within a few more minutes the Ambulance service arrived on scene and were able to assess Ian further and then took him to hospital for further treatment.

In the meantime, the lifeboat returned to the now drifting yacht and got her back under tow. As the tide had gone out quite a lot by now, they had to secure her on an anchor outside the Marina. They would return later when the tide was back in to give them enough water to gain access to the Marina.

The lifeboat launched again later that evening. It was a long day for everyone, not least for Ian and his novice crew member. As the RNLI crew recovered the lifeboat for the second time that day, they were pleased to see that Ian has come down to say hello. Now back from hospital, looking tired and a bit battered. It was great to see him and despite a few broken fingers and badly bruised ribs, he was pleased that the ordeal was over.

Ian told the RNLI crew: ‘As I sailed past the lifeboat station and was heading towards Battery Point, the wind really started to pick up and it became quite gusty. I decided to take down the sails and come back underway with the engine to Portishead. That is when it all happened. I was worried that we could get blown on to the rocks so tried to start the engine. It just fell off the back and pulled me in, I couldn’t believe it. If I hadn’t got my lifejacket on I would have been face down, no doubt about it. It would have been a completely different story with out it on. The water was so cold I wouldn’t have been able to keep afloat. Thank you so much for bringing us back, we would have just drifted on to the rocks and it doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened without you being there.’

A great outcome from a challenging day, Ian did exactly the right thing in calling for help as soon as he did. He was prepared and went to sea with all he needed to make sure his rescue was quick and didn’t end up in a worsening situation.

If you see anyone in trouble either by the coast or in the water just call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Did you know we even come out to help if your 4-legged friend gets in to trouble in the water.

#SavingLivesAtSea #RespectTheWater

Don’t miss Saving Lives At Sea on BBC2 Tuesday evenings at 8.00pm, your Portishead crew will be featured in the coming weeks. For more up to date information go to their Facebook page RNLI Portishead.

If you can spare a few hours to help support the RNLI in Portishead, why not join our Fundraisng team or Shop Volunteer team just get in touch at Portishead@rnli.org.uk

Notes to editors

All images and video are the property of the RNLI.

· Skipper Ian with RNLI volunteers Ian and Andy who was Helm on the rescue

· Launch of the Lifeboat

· Ambulance crew arrived to take Ian to hospital

· Recovery of Ian’s yacht in the evening

· Recovery of the lifeboat at the end of the day

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Helen Lazenby, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07800 595 995, Scott Eggins RNLI volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer 07539 270063 or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.

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 142,200 lives.

Skipper Ian with RNLI volunteers Ian and Andy who was Helm on the rescue

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Skipper Ian with RNLI volunteers Ian and Andy who was Helm on the rescue
Launch of the Lifeboat

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Launch of the Lifeboat
Ambulance crew arrived to take Ian to hospital

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Ambulance crew arrived to take Ian to hospital
Recovery of Ian’s yacht in the evening

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Recovery of Ian’s yacht in the evening
Recovery of the lifeboat at the end of the day

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Recovery of the lifeboat at the end of the day

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.