Poole lifeboat volunteers' back to back calls for help
The inshore lifeboat was initially launched on a training exercise at 2.30pm on (Saturday July 16) to assist Swanage lifeboat by taking over a tow and bringing a broken down 40ft motor cruiser back into Poole Harbour.
The lifeboats rendezvoused just outside the harbour entrance and the Poole lifeboat took over the tow.
As they returned into Poole Harbour the Solent Coastguard tasked the lifeboat to assist a person at the entrance of the Wareham Channel, where a vessel with one person onboard was stuck in the mud. The lifeboat dropped off the vessel they were towing back in and the training exercise became a real call out.
The volunteers were soon at the entrance of the Wareham Channel where the crew found a small rib with an elderly gentleman on board. It was high and dry, the vessel was heading into the Harbour and just got caught out.
As the sun was extremely warm and the boat was not going to go anywhere, two crew were deployed, to crawl across the mud and help free the vessel, a tow line was attached and the crew worked at refloating the vessel. It seemed all was okay and the gentlemen was none the worse for his adventures and happy to make his own way back to Ridge Wharf.
The Coastguard then tasked the lifeboat again to take a tow off the Swanage crew as the vessel was returning to Cobbs Quay. They took over the tow of a broken down 22 ft speedboat then returned back to the lifeboat station.
As the volunteers were washing down the lifeboat and equipment, cleaning off the mud, back at the station just after 6.30pm a Mayday call came through from a 31ft yacht that reported smoke coming from its engine room. A Mayday call is used to signal a life-threatening emergency, that they are in grave and imminent danger. The next call came through that ‘he could see flames and that they were abandoning ship’.
The stricken vessel had two people onboard and was in the Swash Channel which is the main Channel outside the entrance of Poole Harbour on the way to Old Harry rocks.
At 6.40pm both lifeboats launched, Poole inshore lifeboat was on scene within 8 minutes, they found that the two people had been picked up by a passing motor boat and were safe and okay. The Condor Vitesse had been coming into Port and was also launching its rescue boat, responding to the Mayday.
There were a lot of vessels in the vicinity so the lifeboat crew moved vessels away, securing the area around the burning boat, cordoning it off. They transferred the casualties from the motor boat on board the lifeboat, they assessed the situation, establishing how much fuel was onboard and if there were any gas bottles or anything else inflammable.
The all-weather lifeboat swiftly arrived and was preparing its salvage pump and fire hose, the crew began to douse the fire down, the vessel was drifting north east.
The inshore lifeboat stood by as a guard vessel, reassuring the casualties on board, it was then decided to transfer them onto to the Vanguard, the pilot boat, who took them back to Poole Yacht club.
The fire was soon under control, when the crew were happy that the fire had been put out, they gathered up the mast and the rigging, securing it all to the side of the boat then a tow was set up and the vessel was brought back to Poole Yacht club where the Fire Brigade were standing by to check the vessel over.
Meanwhile the inshore lifeboat heard a radio call for assistance from another vessel that had ran aground, a yacht had hit the bottom, on the corner of the channel at ‘Middle Mud’. A tow was attempted to refloat the vessel but it was to no avail, the crew decided that as the vessel was in no immediate danger, it would be better to wait for high water where it could refloat itself safely. The lifeboat organised a call from the Coastguard later at high water, to confirm that the vessel was able to continue with its journey.
Both ifeboats returned back to station and were ready for service after long day by 10.30pm.
Then at 11:45pm the pagers rang out again as the inshore lifeboat was tasked to a report of a person in the water in Poole Quay. The lifeboat was immediately on scene and recovered the casualty from the water, they proceeded back to the station where the casualty was transferred to ambulance crew.
The inshore lifeboat has now been tasked by Solent Coastguard to check the vessel aground at Middle Mud as the high water has passed, it seems they may have to wait till the next high water.
Volunteer Senior Helmsman Gavin McGuinness said: ‘It was a very busy day and night where we had a variety of jobs. The boat on fire required immediate action, as it was hazard to shipping and it could have been an environmental issue, if it had gone down.There were a lot of vessels in the area, who were also at risk if the fuel or canisters had gotten alight. The mud work is always strenuous, with the heat and the vulnerability of the gentlemen concerned we were happy to help.’
Poole all-weather lifeboat call to a burning boat. Credit RNLI/Poole
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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.