Two people rescued from grounded vessel in the Ribble Estuary
Lytham St Annes Inshore Lifeboat Volunteer crew assist as holed yacht sinks after hitting the south training wall on 12 August 2019.
A 12.5 metre (41 foot) ketch was sailing from Preston Dock when she ran into the training wall on the south side of the channel. The stone walls were constructed by Preston Dock to stabilise the position of the channel when commercial shipping was entering the Ribble Estuary, and it is unseen once covered by water at high tide. The vessel struck sand but was pushed stern first until she struck the training wall where she remained as the tide ebbed away around her.
The two highly experienced sailors had been unlucky that their yacht had hit the wall, as a few metres either side would have allowed the vessel to come to rest on sand. The H.M. Coastguard (MRSC Holyhead) was informed and arrangements were made to launch the Lytham Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) MOAM to assess the situation, inspect the vessel’s hull for damage and standby in case the sailors needed to be brought ashore if the ketch sank or broke up. The Station’s All-weather lifeboat Barbara Anne’s volunteer crew were also assembled in case her assistance was needed and stood by ready to launch if required.
Then the ketch slipped off the stone training wall, without injuring the two occupants, and settled on the sand. It was found that a hole about 40cm round had been punched in the vessel's hull by the stones and water rapidly poured in. As the ILB came alongside and took off the two sailors, the vessel quickly became completely full of water and sat on the sea bed with her two masts showing. As it was now low tide, attempts were made to salvage some of the owners’ personal items and equipment before the two people were brought ashore and taken to the ILB Boathouse at Central Beach, before being driven to their car at Preston by a crew member.
It was hoped that providing the weather remained fairly calm, the ketch could be salvaged in the next few days.
Helmsman Tom Stuart said, “They were very unlucky to go onto the south training wall and it is hoped they may be able to get assistance from Preston Marina to salvage their vessel before the next gales strike.”
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.