Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat crew help a disabled sailor on round Britain challenge

Lifeboats News Release

A disabled sailor attempting a non-stop round Britain Sailing Challenge needed help from Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat when his sail was damaged and his engine failed off the Suffolk coast.

Lowestoft lifeboat was called by UK Coastguard just before 7pm on Sunday to go to the aid of the single-handed yachtsman who was in difficulty 27 miles south-east of the port.

Lifeboat Coxswain John Fox said “It took us about an hour to reach the stranded 14m (47ft) yacht whose full name was “Marathon of Guernsey “ and when we arrived we could see that the vessel’s sail had ripped. A Wind Farm Crew Transfer Vessel had been standing by the yacht until we got there. The skipper of the yacht was very tired so we put one of our volunteer crew on board to help him and then connected a towline to bring the craft to Lowestoft. The sea was a bit lumpy with some heavy swells.”

The lifeboat moored the stranded yacht in Hamilton Dock just after midnight where he was met by the Lowestoft and Southwold Coastguard Rescue team.

Disabled sailor Keith White had begun his non-stop round Britain and Ireland sailing Challenge a month ago on 12 May. The Isle of Wight yachtsman, who lost the use of his left arm in a motorway accident in 1991, hoped to become the first disabled sailor to achieve a non-stop round Britain and Ireland voyage.

Mr White’s journey had taken him non-stop from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, clockwise around the British Isles. His aim, before his mishap, was to finish back home in the Isle of Wight.

On his Facebook page ‘Keith White Disabled Sailor’ it tells of his eventful journey – “Keith has damaged topsides held together with gaffa tape, little or no electrics, no communications only his Yellow Brick, and a blown out mainsail.

On June 7th Keith also posted: I'm exhausted and wet. This is the first time I've stopped all day. Very big seas and ‘Marathon’ went over to a 40 degrees angle and now everything is on the floor - and predicted winds in the North Sea are 35 knots plus.”

A lifeboat spokesman said “the sailor was a bit upset about having to be rescued. He told us that, he had also been rammed by an Irish fisherman earlier in the trip. He had encounted bad weather with really strong winds over the past few days and the yacht had been knocked down by a heavy wave which is why all his electrics had gone and he was unable to restart his engine.

He was trying to raise money for the disabled sailing organization ‘Sailability’ “

Previously at midnight on 12 May, Cowes lifeboat Cowes lifeboat B859 had been tasked to assist the same yacht when it experienced engine failure just west of Cowes. The lifeboat crew took the yacht in tow to a berth in the River Medina where repairs could be made.

A towline is attached to yacht 'Marathon'


A towline is attached to yacht 'Marathon'
Yacht 'Marathon' under tow by Lowestoft Lifeboat

RNLI/Philip Holdsworth

Yacht 'Marathon' under tow by Lowestoft Lifeboat
Yacht 'Marathon' is brought safely into Lowestoft

RNLI/Mick Howes

Yacht 'Marathon' is brought safely into Lowestoft

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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, in a normal year, 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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