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RNLI Torbay lifeboat crew rescue stricken cruiser anchored by pot ropes

Lifeboats News Release

During unseasonable wet and windy weather on Monday 15 May, the RNLI Torbay all-weather lifeboat Alec & Christina Dykes was tasked by HM Coastguard to assist a 36’ motor cruiser which had snagged pot lines and was held fast to the ocean floor after setting off from Dartmouth.

The volunteer lifeboat crew (based in Brixham) went to assist the motor vessel (which had twin outdrive engines and two persons on board) after the cruiser picked up pot ropes which then became badly tangled around the propeller 3.5 miles off Berry Head. Unable to free itself, the cruiser was anchored by the snagged line in a 4-6 foot swell.

The lifeboat crew arrived promptly and tried various methods to free the vessel including gently towing the her free (which proved too dangerous) then using a grapnel (or grappling) hook to free the twisted rope; however this proved impossible when the line being used parted due to the weight of the two boats. RNLI Torbay lifeboat Coxswain Mark Criddle said: ‘eventually volunteer lifeboat crewman Nigel Crang put on a dry suit and helmet and, by reaching down towards the snagged propeller from the diving platform on the cruiser, was able to use a knife to gradually cut the vessel free which was an extremely tricky operation in the conditions.’

The Severn Class lifeboat volunteer crew were then able to attach a tow line and safely return the stricken vessel to the mouth of the River Dart, then putting her alongside the lifeboat to continue safely into Darthaven Marina for repairs.

This incident clearly demonstrates how quickly situations at sea can change and the incredibly valuable work down by the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews.

Notes to editors

Video footage taken during the rescue

Credit: RNLI/Torbay Lifeboat

Photograph shows the 36’ cruiser coming into Darthaven Marina alongside Torbay RNLI all-weather lifeboat Alec & Christina Dykes

Photo credit: Andy Kyle, Dartmouth

Torbay Lifeboat Station Key Facts:

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For more information please telephone Victoria Bowen, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07794 043 428 -, or contact Amy Caldwell, RNLI Public Relations Manager (South) on 07920 818 807 - or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789

RNLI/Andy Kyle, Dartmouth

RNLI Torbay all-weather lifeboat bringing the 36' cruiser back to Darthaven 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