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Cowes lifeboat really has something to shout about

Lifeboats News Release

Cowes lifeboat’s service to life-saving was exceptionally demonstrated last week, with the boat notching up more than eight hours on the Solent dealing with sailors in potential danger.

The time was accumulated from three separate call-outs.


The first shout involved the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s catamaran, Twin Wakes, which came close to sinking on Tuesday while acting as a committee boat for the Island Sailing Club’s J111 world championships. After the seven people aboard had been hurriedly evacuated Cowes and Calshot tried without success to pump out the water. Eventually the work was taken over by the all-weather Bembidge lifeboat, which went on to tow the catamaran to Cowes.  


The second concerned a small yacht, Shanghai Lil with two women aboard, which had gone firmly aground on the Bramble Bank on Friday, while on passage from Hamble to Cowes.


Despite major attempts by Cowes lifeboat to refloat the yacht, it remained stuck fast, and it was finally arranged for the women to be taken back to Hamble by Hamble lifeboat to collect a winch to lift the retractable keel. However by the time the lifeboat and the women returned the yacht had refloated on the rising tide, allowing the lifeboat to then tow it to Cowes.


Finally, yesterday the lifeboat was tasked to the yacht Desert Wind, with three men aboard, which had suffered steering gear failure off Gurnard Ledge.  After catching up with the yacht close to the mainland shore lifeboat crew member Andrea Vaughan went aboard with a tow rope aboard. Eventually ventually it was towed to a safe mooring off Cowes by a Cowes Harbour launch.


“It was fairly close to going aground near Beaulieu River when we arrived on the scene which could have presented more serious problems,” said lifeboat helm Laurie O’Callaghan.

The crew member singled out for special praise in relation to the Twin Wakes drama was Alasdair Boden, helm at the time. Fellow crew member Gratia Scott-Oldfield said:  “He did some awesome driving between ourselves and the Calshot and Bembridge boats, firstly to get me onto Twin Wakes and then to ferry Bembridge crew members and their heavy pump to the catamaran.”


Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland