Harwich RNLI volunteers in eight hour long distance rescue

Lifeboats News Release

At 3.45pm on Monday 20 May, Harwich RNLI’s volunteer crew were paged for a launch of the all-weather lifeboat to assist a 23 metre long sailing vessel.

Harwich lifeboat towing vessel

Harwich RNLI

Harwich lifeboat towing vessel

The vessel with 11 people on board was becalmed and had engine failure approximately 35miles Southeast of Landguard Point. Assistance was required to reach safety.

Following launching from Harwich at 4pm, it took an hour and a half to reach the casualty vessel, covering approximately 40miles given the vessel’s drift rate. A crew member was transferred to assist with establishing the tow before the lifeboat turned to make the slow journey back to Harwich.

After six hours towing the 55 ton vessel, the lifeboat entered Harwich Harbour just before midnight and secured the vessel on a berth. The lifeboat returned to station over eight hours after launching and was refuelled and made ready for service.

Commenting on the incident, Harwich RNLI’s Press Officer, Daniel Sime said: ‘This was a lengthy call out for the station, and certainly the longest call out of the year so far. Great commitment from the crew as always, with some of the crew approaching the end of their working day, and then going on a service call lasting eight hours, the equivalent of a further working day. As a station we were very pleased to able to assist, it’s what we’re here for, and we’re glad to see the vessel and occupants safely in Harwich.'

The vessel had been sailing from France with the intention of attending the Norwich City of Ale festival. This year, the event marks 60 years since Norwich was twinned with Rouen in France. Norwich Cathedral and Castle were built from stone from Caen, and the route being taken by the sailing vessel, from Rouen, was the route that the stone was originally transported. This time however, instead of a cargo of stone, this vessel was carrying an important cargo of beer for the event.

Commenting on the passage home, Harwich RNLI Coxswain, Neal Sandquest said: ‘We were glad to be of assistance. Despite the passage taking us through the busy Sunk Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), it was a pleasant tow. On the approaches to Harwich, ourselves and the casualty vessel were treated to amazing electric blue phosphorescence in the water, something I’d not seen first hand before. A big thank you as always to the volunteer crew, and importantly to their families and employers for the support.'

View from the wheelhouse

Harwich RNLI

View from the wheelhouse
Vessel in darkness

Harwich RNLI

Vessel in darkness
Arriving in Harwich harbour

Harwich RNLI

Arriving in Harwich harbour

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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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