View as PDF

Midnight callout for Eastbourne Lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

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

Casualty entering harbour

RNLI/Bob Jeffery

Casualty under tow
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

Lady of Avenel under full sail

RNLI/Bob Jeffery

Lady of Avenel under full sail

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland