West Kirby and Hoylake RNLI lifeboats launched into darkness
Two volunteer lifeboat crews from neighbouring Wirral stations were launched into darkness to search for a septuagenarian sailor in distress.
Hoylake RNLI lifeboat Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood was tasked by UK Coastguard at 11.36pm last night (October 25) to launch to a 26ft motor yacht that had reportedly run aground with one person on board, who was suffering from illness.
The Coastguard were having difficulties in establishing communications with the casualty, which was initially thought to be at the entrance to the River Mersey. Liverpool VTS had identified a vessel suspected to be the casualty in the Crosby channel and the Coastguard asked the lifeboat to proceed to it. On arrival, it was discovered that this vessel was not the casualty. The Coastguard then reported that based on further information, the casualty might be at the entrance to the River Dee.
Hoylake Lifeboat proceeded to the Dee and suggested that West Kirby Lifeboat be tasked to assist.
The Coastguard tasked West Kirby lifeboat Seahorse to assist elderly gentleman, who was reported to be exhausted through sea sickness, compounded by an ongoing chronic illness. Due to the gentleman’s condition, he had become cold, weak and confused and was unaware of his position.
The elderly skipper had departed from Liverpool in the late afternoon of yesterday (25 October) on his yacht with the intention of reaching Llandudno to meet up with a relative. However, during the voyage he succumbed to seasickness resulting in the confusion over his position that led him in the darkness to sail into the Dee estuary and to his final position approximately one mile south of Little Eye where he attempted to anchor his vessel.
West Kirby RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Dave Henshaw stated: 'A relatively straightforward shout was simple only because of the hundreds of hours of dedicated training the volunteers put in and a massive back up infrastructure that the RNLI provide. With very slightly different circumstances it could have been a loss of life.'
During the journey to the launch site the West Kirby volunteer crew members in the launching vehicle could see the elderly skipper shining his torch for Seahorse and her crew to come to his aid.
Once the lifeboat was launched the volunteer crewmen reached the gentleman within a couple of minutes, boarded his yacht and found him exhausted in the cockpit.
Following a medical assessment, the charity’s volunteers decided that the skipper should be evacuated to the launching vehicle immediately to be taken ashore for a further checkup.
Seahorse, with four volunteer crewmen, deployed one crew man to stay on the yacht whilst the others transported the gentleman to the waiting launching vehicle.
The West Kirby lifeboat then deployed a further crew member onto the gentleman’s vessel and proceeded to tow the yacht to the West Kirby Sailing Club moorings to secure it for the night.
Once ashore and warmed up the skipper of the yacht recovered well and following a medical checkup by NHS medics he was pronounced fit to return to his home.
Before the gentleman left the lifeboat station for home he thanked the charity’s volunteers and stated that as soon as he saw the blue lights of the lifeboat and launching vehicle proceeding towards him over the beach he was so relieved and knew then he would be alright.
Once the yacht was secured on West Kirby moorings the lifeboat was put back onto its carriage and returned to the station to be cleaned and prepared for the next service. The lifeboat volunteers then left the station shortly after 4am to return to their beds.
Hoylake RNLI crew returned to station at around 4.30am.
The volunteer crew of West Kirby RNLI lifeboat commented that the gentleman’s yacht was in good condition and well prepared for a voyage of this nature and it was unfortunate that the gentleman had been debilitated by a combination of his medical condition and seasickness that resulted in the rescue in the early hours of this morning.
Hoylake Lifeboat Press Officer Vicki Phipps said: 'This was a good example of crews of different classes of lifeboats from two neighbouring stations working together in the small hours of the morning to achieve a successful result. Many of the volunteers will have returned home just in time to leave for work the following morning.'
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Ed Rowland, West Kirby RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on 07429 277294 or Vicki Phipps, Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07709 391253 or Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Media Officer, West, on 07748 265496 or 01745 585162 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
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.