Two Brighton crew members taken to hospital during attempt to rescue yacht
The dangers faced by RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews, as they endeavour to save lives at sea, were exposed yesterday after two members of Brighton RNLI’s lifeboat were taken to hospital following an operation to rescue the skipper of a stricken yacht, drifting outside the harbour.
The station’s inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat Random Harvest launched at 8.30am on Wednesday (2 May) after being alerted that a 31 ft yacht, which was Brighton bound with one crew member on board, had suffered engine failure and was requesting assistance to enter Brighton Marina.
At the time of launching the wind speed was Force 5 – 6 and the seas were becoming increasingly rough due to the backwash from the Brighton Marina. However the conditions were well within the capabilities of the Atlantic 85, which although being an inshore lifeboat, can handle fairly challenging open sea conditions up to Force 7 and is capable of 35 knots.
Unfortunately though, the yacht was too far north and began to drift into the surf line west of Brighton Marina. The Brighton RNLI lifeboat and its volunteer crew attempted to tow the yacht out of difficulty and put one crew member aboard the yacht to assist. But while undertaking this operation the tow line broke.
As a result of the line breaking the RNLI crew member on board the yacht was thrown over, but was able to keep himself on board, within the guard rails and wasn’t injured. Two RNLI crew members on board the Random Harvest fell heavily against the A-frame of the lifeboat.
The lifeboat was then able to re-attach the tow and took the yacht into deeper waters, putting it in a safer position, before handing over the tow to the Shoreham all-weather lifeboat, the Tamar class, Enid Collett. Once it was established that the yacht and its skipper were safe, the Brighton lifeboat was released to return to the boathouse and the two crew members were taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital for check-ups.
Meanwhile the Shoreham lifeboat towed the yacht into Brighton Marina where the vessel and its skipper were made safe. Safety checks were then carried out on the Random Harvest to see if the vessel had suffered any damage.
After being examined at hospital it was found that one Brighton crew member had suffered a possible cracked rib and the other had no physical injuries. Both were released at 6pm last night. On examination it was found that the Brighton lifeboat had not sustained damage and is now back on service.
Roger Cohen, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Brighton Lifeboat Station, today praised the crew for the professional way in which they handled the incident:
‘Well done to our volunteer crew after yesterday morning’s rescue. The seamanship and decisions made by the Helmsman Daniel Gurr in this incident were exemplary. Unfortunately one crew member sustained injuries during this service call. Our crew don’t volunteer to be injured but unfortunately they often work in dangerous conditions and I wish him a speedy recovery.'
‘Our crews are on call 24/7 and when their pagers go off, they never know what they’re going to face. This is what our crews train for and what the charity equips them to do. The teamwork shown by the volunteer crews of Brighton and Shoreham was admirable and it’s a credit to them all that they were able to bring back the initial casualty into the safety of Brighton Marina in worsening conditions.’
RNLI Media Contacts:
Jade Cohen, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Brighton Lifeboat Station (07850) 261593 firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 email@example.com
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
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.