Cold weekend for Eastbourne lifeboat crew

Lifeboats News Release

An unseasonably busy weekend for the volunteer crew of Eastbourne Lifeboats saw them launch five times plus an additional standby in temperatures hovering around freezing in a biting Northerly wind.

ILB at Beachy Head

RNLI/Mark Sawyer

At 19.42 on Friday evening the inshore lifeboat (ILB) was requested to launch to conduct a shoreline search for a missing person, thought to be in distress, last seen on the clifftop at Beachy Head. A full scale search followed which involved local coastguard teams, a police helicopter and the search and rescue helicopter from Gosport. With nothing found and the helicopters running short of fuel the search was abandoned after two hours. Shortly before midnight the ILB was tasked again when reports were received that a small yacht seemed to be in difficulties near the entrance to Sovereign Harbour. When on scene the yacht’s skipper appeared to be disorientated but refused all offers of assistance. He was encouraged to anchor for the night and received safety advice from the ILB helmsman.

At lunchtime on Saturday the ILB was again paged to assist coastguard rescue helicopter 163 with the recovery of a body from the beach at Beachy Head.

At 14.53 the volunteer ILB crew were tasked to assist the rescue helicopter again when one of a group of base jumpers at Beachy Head suffered serious injuries when his parachute got entangled during his descent. He was given expert care by the ILB team before being airlifted by helicopter and taken to the Sussex County Hospital at Brighton. The rest of the base jumpers were then escorted along the beach to Birling Gap where they were met by local coastguards.

The weekend ended on a high note when the ILB was tasked on Sunday morning to search for a Cocker Spaniel called Ben which had fallen from the cliffs at Whitbread Hollow. Miraculously the dog survived the fall and was collected by the crew and passed to local coastguards at Holywell who reunited him with his distraught owner.

Later on Sunday evening both boats were launched in a fruitless search for a paddle boarder the call eventually was presumed to be a false alarm with good intent

Key facts about the RNLI

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.

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