On the rocks in Holyhead
Craig Stalman, the Holyhead duty coxswain, is at home with his family when their Sunday peace and quiet is suddenly interrupted by his pager sounding at 1.52pm.
A 7.5m yacht, with two people onboard, had run aground on The Skerries, an island 5 miles north of Holyhead.
Less than 10 minutes later, a crew assembled, and launched their Severn class all-weather lifeboat Christopher Pearce. As Skerries Lighthouse came into view, so too did the stranded yacht. It was wedged upright, aground on the rocks. Stuck, thanks to the low tide.
Craig explains how it had happened: ‘There’s a small lagoon beside the lighthouse. The sailor had taken the wrong passage out. The Skerries has a really fast tidal race running round it, pushing at 8 knots. That’s twice as fast as that yacht can go. It wasn’t getting out on that tide.’
On scene, Coxswain Craig decided to launch the inflatable Y-boat to reach the yacht in the shallows.
Crew Members Jack Lee and Jay Garden powered the Y-boat to the yacht.
Jack recalls: ‘It was precarious, the way the yacht was sitting on the rocks. We found two crew onboard, in good spirits but embarrassed.’ The volunteers told them that they’d done the right thing in contacting the Coastguard.
Jack and Jay checked everything was safe and secure on the yacht. With another 6 hours until high tide, Craig decided to take everyone off. The lifeboat crew returned to Holyhead, arriving just after 5pm.
They were back out again at 7pm. This time, Holyhead’s D class lifeboat Mary and Archie Hooper launched too, to combat the fast-flowing spring tide.
At the lagoon, the D class crew checked the yacht and set up a tow. Once refloated, the inshore crew towed the yacht to deeper water and handed the yacht over to the crew of the Christopher Pearce. Two crew remained on the yacht for the journey home. Jack remembers: ‘We were done and dusted at around midnight.’
Craig praises the crew as ‘very slick and professional, thanks to the training, with excellent seamanship’.
The unsung heroes
Craig Stalman, Duty Coxswain at Holyhead, says: ‘We’re so passionate about saving lives at sea. But while we’re out at sea, focused on the rescue, there are people back on land dealing with the day-to-day we’ve left behind. People often forget about our wives, husbands, partners and families left in limbo. They’re the unsung heroes!’
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