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You’re the force behind the rescue: January roundup

Another year, another lockdown. But the sea is as dangerous as ever and calls for help don’t stop. Thanks to you, the crews were kitted up and trained to keep rescuing those in trouble in icy waters.

Here’s just a selection of the lifesaving work our crews around the UK and Ireland have been doing, while most of us have been safe at home.

2 January: Lymington

The Lymington B class lifeboat tows the yacht through the icy dark waters

Photo: RNLI/Suzanne Brown

Lymington lifeboat crew tow the sailors through icy dark waters to safety

In the first call out of the year for Lymington crew, they went to help three people onboard an 8m yacht. The B class lifeboat crew were swift to react after being called by the Coastguard and launched in darkness and icy temperatures. 

The conditions were good and the sea was calm, but the yacht had engine problems and was drifting on the tide towards the shingle bank.

The crew soon found the yacht in the mid Shingles area, between Hurst Castle and the Needles in the Solent. The yacht was only a few minutes away from being grounded on the Shingle bank, so the people on the yacht had done the right thing calling for help.

The lifeboat crew quickly set up a tow and took the yacht and its crew safely back to the Harbour Master’s Pontoon in Lymington.

It was a busy start to the new year for the volunteer crew, who were called out twice the following day too.

3 January: Courtmacsherry

The Courtmacsherry crew gather after the morning’s call out on their Trent class lifeboat

Photo: RNLI/Courtmacsherry

The Courtmacsherry crew, after their early morning call out

Before sunrise in freezing conditions and force 4–5 winds, Courtmacsherry all-weather lifeboat crew launched to three people on a 15m yacht. 

The crew on the stricken yacht, which was on its way to Kinsale in West Cork, had encountered heavy weather for the past 24 hours. The yacht lost power off the Old Head of Kinsale and the crew requested immediate assistance.

The lifeboat took half an hour to reach the scene. Coxswain Mark Gannon and crew assessed the situation. The crew quickly attached a tow and two lifeboat crew members, Kevin Young and Paul McCarthy, went onboard the yacht to help.

The crew then towed the yacht slowly and safely back to Kinsale Yacht Club Marina, around 2 hours after launching.

21 January: Fraserburgh

It was a poignant day for the crew at Fraserburgh. 51 years ago on 21 January 1970, the Fraserburgh lifeboat launched to the rescue and didn’t return. Five of her crew of six lost their lives when the lifeboat capsized.

When the Coastguard received an EPIRB (emergency beacon) distress signal on 21 January 2021, they immediately requested the launch of the Fraserburgh all-weather lifeboat. When an EPIRB is activated, it can mean someone is in serious trouble. 

The crew spent 3 hours in gale-force winds searching an area between Fraserburgh and Macduff with other teams. They were stood down when the Coastguard were satisfied that no vessel was in distress.

Safely back on dry land, the current crew took time to pay their respects to the crew who didn’t come home on 21 January 1970. Coxswain Sutherland laid a wreath on the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial Statue.

24 January: Hoylake 

Two dog walkers got stuck in the mud in Leasowe Bay. With the tide flooding, they were surrounded by rising water. The Hoylake rescue hovercraft crew launched quickly and headed to the couple on the west side of Leasowe Island. 

Wirral and Crosby Coastguard Rescue Teams had also been tasked and had managed to extract the casualties from the mud. But when the hovercraft arrived on the scene, the couple were still in danger from the rising tide, hazardous terrain and the cold. The crew gently brought them onboard the hovercraft and wrapped them in blankets to keep them warm.

The hovercraft flew the casualties to the shoreline, where Coastguard officers carried out a further medical assessment. Thankfully, both were OK and were happy to be reunited with their dog, who had been looked after by Coastguard officers on the shore.

Hoylake RNLI Volunteer Hovercraft Commander Matt Pownall-Jones says: ‘The casualties had a lucky escape thanks to quick intervention by the Coastguard and our RNLI volunteers. At this difficult time, we appreciate that people who are lucky enough to live by the coast will want to visit for exercise. But the RNLI urges everyone to think carefully about heading out and to avoid taking unnecessary risks in case you get into difficulty.’

25 January: Rhyl

Rhyl launching tractor manoeuvres the inshore lifeboat back to the station in the snow, after a rescue

Photo: RNLI/Callum Robinson

Wintery conditions welcome the Rhyl crew on their return to station

Most of us are tucked up and cosy in bed by 11.30pm, but in late January, the Rhyl crew had to face snow and icy winds to search for a missing person. Both the inshore and all-weather lifeboat crews were paged late that night and assembled at the station. 

Police, ambulance and the local volunteer coastguard team were all searching for a person around the Horton’s Nose Beach area at the entrance to Rhyl Harbour. The inshore lifeboat crew launched to help with the search. The all-weather lifeboat crew remained on standby, with their lifeboat at the water’s edge. 

Just as the inshore lifeboat arrived on the scene, the person was located nearby. A crew member went ashore to help get them into the ambulance. As the snow fell, the crew member got back onboard and all returned to the station by 1am. 

26 January: Sheerness

The view from the Sheerness lifeboat of three men stranded on the Redsands Tower in the Thames Estuary

Photo: RNLI/Vic Booth

Three men, marooned on the eerie Redsands Tower, about to be rescued

Three men were left high and dry on Redsands Tower in the Thames Estuary on Sunday morning. A crew of six came to their rescue aboard the Sheerness all-weather lifeboat The George and Ivy Swanson, after being paged at 8.57am. 

The tower is a huge installation – part of the Maunsell forts, built for defence during the Second World War. The men said they’d become stranded on the tower after their two boats had gone adrift on the tide.

The men were helped off the tower onto the lifeboat and taken back to shore, where they were met by members of the Sheppey Coastguard Rescue Team and Kent Police. The men later made a donation to the RNLI.

31 January: Anstruther


In one of the last rescues of the month, Anstruther volunteers launched their inshore lifeboat to a boy who was stuck on a rock, trapped by the rising tide.

The crew found the boy perched high on a rock near St Monans Church. Crew Member Euan Hoggan climbed up to help the boy, who had been stranded a long time before anybody raised the alarm. Euan assessed his condition, then helped him down to the lifeboat. The crew returned the boy to St Monans Harbour into the care of the Coastguard Rescue Team.

Thank you for being a lifesaver

You don’t need to pull on a pair of yellow wellies or step aboard a lifeboat to be a lifesaver. Whether you share our safety advice with friends and family, give a kind donation, or selflessly volunteer your time to power our lifesaving work, you make a huge difference to saving lives at sea and we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for being an intrinsic part of our lifesaving crew.