Two lifeboat call outs on the same day in the Ribble Estuary
Lifeboat Volunteers out a second time, half an hour after the first service
The Lytham St Annes Inshore lifeboat crew were called out on Saturday morning (11th August 2018) when the crew pagers sounded to launch the lifeboat. Her Majesty’s Coastguard requested the boat to search for a man from Southport who had apparently planned to walk across the estuary to Lytham.
The inshore lifeboat (ILB) D-800 MOAM was launched from Seafield Road with volunteer Helmsman Vinny Pedley in command and headed upriver to check all the creeks, gutters, banks, and river perches in case the man had carried out his plan. The National Police Air Service helicopter was tasked to search the estuary’s outer sand banks at the same time and the Southport inshore lifeboat searched the south side of the estuary from Southport Pier to Crossens Pool.
After a thorough, time consuming search of the Ribble and its creeks as far inland as Penwortham Bridge in Preston, the Lytham ILB checked the River Douglas before the search was called off by the Coastguard, no trace of the man having been found.
The lifeboat arrived back at her boathouse at 12.45pm and the Crew and Shore Crew set about checking, cleaning and re-fuelling the MOAM in readiness for her next service before they could leave for their homes at 1.10pm.
The next service came sooner than expected when the pagers went again just half an hour later. The same crew arrived back at the boathouse, most having not had time for a meal, and quickly launched the Inshore Lifeboat off the Lytham jetty.
A steel 57 foot (17.37m) canal boat had phoned the H.M. Coastguard asking for help as they were unsure of their position in the estuary, having left Preston Dock on passage to Tarleton Lock on the River Douglas. The vessel, with two people on board, had missed the turn into the Douglas and when found by the Inshore Lifeboat was about a mile and a half seaward of the Douglas entrance. Having set the canal boat on the correct course, the boat was found to be only capable of making less than 1 knot (1 nautical mile per hour) against the rapidly ebbing spring tide. At that speed the canal boat would have failed to make the safety of the Douglas with the likelihood of grounding and endangering the people on board. Helmsman Pedley took the decision that the only option was to take the vessel in tow and so the ILB connected up and eventually got the canal boat to a safe berth at Tarleton Lock. It had been a long slow job but the risk of leaving the vessel in the estuary to await the incoming night time spring tide was too great.
The ILB returned to Lytham and her boathouse and the volunteer crew again set about washing, checking and re-fuelling her before they could go home.
As he was about to leave the boathouse to finally go home at 4.15pm, Helmsman Vinny Pedley said, “It was a necessary service to the canal boat with the fast moving spring tides leaving no margin for error if the boat had gone aground as the tide ebbed,”
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, 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.