Selsey RNLI all-weather lifeboat launched to investiga
On Monday 19 August at 2.57pm the UK Coastguard requested the launch of the Selsey all-weather lifeboat (ALB) to investigate an emergency position indicating beacon (EPIRB) activation 11 miles south of the lifeboat station.
The ALB launched at 3.08pm and made best speed to the position in challenging conditions. Whilst on route at 3.33pm a target was spotted on radar and as the lifeboat got closer this was identified as catamaran which appeared to be struggling with the main sail wrapped around the mast. The vessel could not be contacted on VHF radio so the lifeboat was brought alongside the vessel to communicate with the lone sailor using the lifeboat loud hailer.
After a short time it was confirmed that the EPIRB had been activated by the sailor. The Coastguard rescue helicopter R175 had just arrived on scene at the original position so they were diverted to our position. A handheld radio was first passed to the casualty vessel so communications were established. The loan sailor had been at sea since 4.00am and was exhausted so the decision was made to transfer crewman Pip Skeet to assist him. Rescue 175 remained on scene as top cover. The weather on scene was wind south/south westerly force 7-8 sea state rough in sunshine.
After a few attempts the crewman was transferred to the catamaran and the tow line was passed. When the tow had been established between the lifeboat and casualty a course was set for Littlehampton Harbour. The conditions were hampering the towing with the bridal fouling the port side hull of the catamaran and there were no strong points on the stern to attach a drogue. The seas were breaking over the stern of the casualty vessel and the port hull constantly being pulled under the surface.
With a danger to both the persons on the catamaran the decision was made to drop the tow and recover the lifeboat crewman and the casualty to the lifeboat. The tow line was recovered and stowed. The ALB was then taken back alongside the casualty vessel and after several attempts both persons were safely on board the lifeboat with some personal belongings. This decision wasn’t easy as the man had indicated this was his home.
At 4.24pm the lifeboat and Rescue 175 were released by the Coastguard. The lifeboat headed back to Selsey arriving at 5.00pm. The casualty was found lodgings for the night by the lifeboat crew. The crew today were Coxswain Rob Archibald, Mechanic Phil Pitham, Max Gilligan, Max Wiseman, Pip Skeet and Terry Healey.
Foot note: The catamaran was found drifting by a fishing boat and towed into Littlehampton Harbour during the morning of the 20 August.
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.