Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat and two helicopters called to injured crewman
The crew of three of a small Dutch motor cruiser en route to Lowestoft from Ijmuiden had to call for help when the vessel was struck and equipment damaged by a huge wave – which also injured one of the crew.
Lowestoft RNLI Coxswain John Fox said “We were called just before 8pm (16th August 2019) to go to the aid of a small motor cruiser that had been struck by a wave in rough seas.
Our volunteer crew quickly launched our RNLI lifeboat Patsy Knight and we located the 10-metre vessel 23 miles east of Lowestoft.
We reached the vessel in just under an hour, arriving shortly after the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd, Kent that had also been scrambled to respond to the incident.
The crewman on board the vessel had been injured when he was knocked over by a big wave just as he was going down some steps in the boat. He broke a table below deck when he landed on it so hard and Initially reported that he couldn’t feel his legs.
The crew told us they had taken two big seas over the boat, which had gone over their canopy and dumped on to their electronics -knocking out their navigation equipment.
In the difficult sea conditions the helicopter crew couldn’t get their winchman straight on to the small cruiser, which was pitching and tossing, so they lowered him onto the lifeboat instead. Then in a precarious move he transferred over onto the cruiser. He had little room to jump onto but eventually found a small spot near the bow.
With the Helicopter running low on fuel they left the winchman tending to the injured man and headed to a nearby airport to refuel. In the meantime a second Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Humberside was also scrambled and rendezvoused with Lowestoft Lifeboat about nine miles from the harbour.
The second helicopter dropped a hi-line in preparation for lowering another winchman with a stretcher down but in the extreme conditions that wasn’t going to work. It was far too rough with really big seas out there. The wind was squalling to force 6 - 7 with waves as high as the lifeboat.
So the winchman from the first helicopter stayed with the injured man for passage back to port and the second helicopter returned to its base.
The crew of the cruiser were Dutch and had left from Ijmuiden at 5am that morning and were heading for Brundall where they were delivering the boat.
Fortunately the cruiser still had its engine running so were able to continue under its own power following the lifeboat for directions.
After over three hours, the lifeboat escorted the cruiser and casualty into the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club marina - arriving at 1.30am. There the Coastguard Rescue Team from Lowestoft met the injured seaman and arranged for onward medical attention.”
Mr Fox added “We are full of admiration for the winchman’s bravery and skill. He did very well in transferring to the vessel while also enduring a very rough journey back on the cruiser.”
The cruiser crew also showed great skill and seamanship in the conditions and they weathered the hammering that they had taken very well”
RNLI media contacts
Mick Howes, Lowestoft RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer 01502 562488 / 07814 468917 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Clare Hopps RNLI Regional Media Officer (North East & East), Tel 07824 518641 Clare_Hopps@rnli.org.uk
Jim RIce, RNLI Regional Media Manager, Tel: 07810 658 072. Jim_Rice@rnli.org.uk
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789. 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, 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.