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Porthcawl Lifeboat Respond to ‘Mayday’ call

Lifeboats News Release

The UK Coastguard Agency paged Porthcawl RNLI volunteer crew at 13:10 on Monday 31st July following a Mayday call from a motor cruiser taking in water and suffering a loss of engine power one and a half miles off Porthcawl.

The cruiser had been hit by two large waves off Kenfig sands whilst on passage from Cardiff to Swansea. Jake and Cath Scott, experienced sailors, were heading west eventually making for Dublin. Jake said, ‘we crested the first large wave well but as we went into the trough the second wave smashed into the bows. We were not unduly concerned as we are experienced in long sea passages and our boat handles such conditions well. One of the consequences of hitting the wave so hard was that our engines automatically went into ‘limp’ mode which meant a loss of full power. However, we did become concerned when we saw water coming under the door from the bow cabin. Unable to gain access to the cabin we sent out the Mayday as we knew we were taking in water. We managed to turn towards Porthcawl and were relieved to see the lifeboat speeding towards us’.

Porthcawl’s crew had launched the charities Atlantic 85 ‘Rose of the Shires’ lifeboat in moderate to rough sea conditions and were alongside the casualty within a few minutes. Helmsman Carl Evans transferred two of his crew onto the casualty vessel with a water pump and to communicate and assist the two people on board should it become necessary to set up a tow into Porthcawl Marina. The Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was also on scene as standby support.

Jake continued, ‘we were able to make it safely into the marina with the lifeboat ready to assist if required. Once inside the marina lifeboat shore crew assisted us in berthing and we were able to investigate what had caused the ingress of water into our forward cabin. It appears the force of that second wave, or that we hit some floating object, smashed open a bow hatch and allowed water in. Ironically we are volunteers at Portishead lifeboat station so we are normally at the receiving end of Mayday calls not the ones sending them out’.

Philip Missen, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Porthcawl commented, ‘today’s shout could almost have been a textbook exercise and not a Mayday rescue. The crew of the casualty were both experienced sailors who carried all the safety equipment recommended, including dry suits and life raft. The Mayday call had been put out sooner rather than later and this all helped in a safe outcome to what was genuinely an accident at sea’.

Following repairs to the bow hatch Jake and Cath plan to continue with their passage to Dublin taking in marinas along the south and west Wales coast ever keeping an eye on the shipping forecast.

Cruiser sheltered by breakwater approaches marina as lifeboat stands by.

Chris Page, Porthcawl

Casualty approaches marina
Crew assist with berthing the cruiser

Chris Page, Porthcawl

Safely inside marina

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