Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat Diamond Jubilee was called upon last night (4 Oct) to assist an historic 105 tonne sailing vessel which was dragging its anchor in gale force winds off Sovereign Harbour
Earlier in the day the 102ft brigantine square rigger Lady of Avenel
had sailed from Poole in Dorset for an overnight stay in Sovereign Harbour. On her approach to harbour she suffered engine failure and was unable to enter the shelter of the marina unaided. The crew dropped anchor off Langney Point whilst they endeavoured to make repairs. With the strong SW wind forecast to increase to gale force, the vessel’s anchor began to drag threatening to drive the ship onto nearby rocks. The skipper requested urgent assistance from HM Coastguard. Aware or the vessel’s predicament the volunteer lifeboat crew had already assembled and were able to launch the moment the request was received. Quickly on scene a towline was passed to the casualty and with expert boat handling Coxswain Mark Sawyer manoeuvred the lifeboat to take the strain off the anchor chains so that the anchors could be retrieved. Then the long slow process of carefully towing the casualty into the shelter of the harbour began. The combined length of the casualty and the lifeboat was greater than the harbour locks so a straightforward tow into the locks was not possible and an alternative had to be sought. The increasing wind strength made entry into the locks virtually impossible so Coxswain Mark decided to use the lifeboat’s permanent mooring buoys in the outer harbour as a temporary refuge for the casualty. After over two hours of tense and strenuous work from the lifeboat crew the casualty was eventually made safe on the lifeboat moorings. The grateful skipper commended the professionalism and skilful conduct of the volunteer crew before settling down to safely ride out the storm
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.