Newhaven lifeboat launches to Mayday from injured sailor drifting towards rocks

Lifeboats News Release

Newhaven’s Severn Class lifeboat 'David and Elizabeth Acland' and her volunteer crew were launched on Saturday 16 June after a Mayday call was received from a single handed sailor in a 30 foot sailing boat.

The casualty had departed Eastbourne for Brighton, but during the voyage had received a suspected head injury and was unsure of his position.

Newhaven Lifeboat, Eastbourne Lifeboat and coastguard helicopter ‘Rescue 163’ from Lydd were requested to launch and locate the casualty vessel.

Newhaven’s lifeboat crew, who had earlier that afternoon been enjoying a family BBQ at the boathouse, were paged at 8.43pm and the boat launched at 8.50pm.

As soon as Newhaven lifeboat had left the harbour she hailed the casualty vessel on VHF channel 16 and used their direction finding equipment to locate the yacht. This was then confirmed by a radar contact and visual sighting.

The casualty was located at 9pm, 300meters from Splash Point and drifting towards the rocks under Seaford Head. Two lifeboat crew donned full protective clothing and helmets and prepared to board the vessel.

In a force 7 south-westerly wind, breaking waves and fading light, the lifeboat came alongside the casualty vessel. Due to the difficult conditions the two boats made contact several times with the lifeboat.

After several attempts a crew member successfully crossed to the casualty vessel. As a second crew member attempted to cross from the lifeboat to the casualty vessel, the two boats were separated by a large wave and the crew member went overboard.

The second coxswain immediately manoeuvred the lifeboat away from the vessel and repositioned the lifeboat to recover the crewmember in the water, preventing the crewmember from being trapped between the two boats and seriously injured.

The RNLI provides world class training for its crews to prepare them for every eventuality, including a man over board scenario and this training immediately came into effect.

The lifeboat maintained visual contact with the crew member in the water and prepared to recover him back on board. A line was thrown and he was successfully recovered from the water by crew members in approximately two minutes.

At 9.15pm coastguard helicopter Rescue 163 arrived on scene and winched a paramedic onto Newhaven Lifeboat, with Eastbourne Lifeboat arriving on scene at 9.30pm.

The crewmember on board the casualty vessel had assessed the casualty and steered back towards Newhaven harbour. Once the casualty vessel was in the lee of Newhaven harbour’s western breakwater Newhaven Lifeboat came back alongside the casualty vessel and the helicopter paramedic was able to board her.

The casualty was then transferred to Eastbourne Lifeboat where he was assessed by their own doctor and transported to Newhaven boathouse. He was then taken into the care of the ambulance service and taken to hospital in Brighton. The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) helicopter was also on scene.

Newhaven lifeboat continued into the harbour and towed the casualty to a berth at 10.20pm.

Newhaven lifeboat was back alongside her own berth by 10.45pm and refuelled and ready for service again by 11.10pm.


Notes to editors

To follow Newhaven lifeboat services visit, Facebook, Twitter & You Tube for the latest pictures and video.

Newhaven has celebrated over 210 years as a lifeboat station, also being the oldest RNLI station in the UK. Newhaven operates an all-weather Seven Class lifeboat David and Elizabeth Acland

RNLI media contacts

  • James Johnson Newhaven RNLI Station Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer 07976 973018
  • Newhaven Lifeboat Station at
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The yacht was drifting towards rocks after her skipper was injured


The yacht was drifting towards rocks after her skipper was injured
Using equipment to discover the yacht's location

RNLI/Paul Dunt

Using equipment to discover the yacht's location
Preparing to go alongside the yacht


Preparing to go alongside the yacht

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.

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