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Ilfracombe RNLI launched to assist sailing vessel with mechanical problems

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI volunteer crew launched the Ilfracombe lifeboat on Wednesday 22 July at 1.10pm following a pan pan distress call from the vessel.

RNLI/Nikki Bradshaw

RNLI Ilfracombe tows yacht to harbour

The 33 foot sailing ketch Endless Love was on its way from Swansea to Lundy Island when a winch jammed so that the foresail could not be used. The sailor, Mr Jack Bowman, then tried to use the vessel’s motor but found that the engine had also failed. He then put out a pan pan distress call which was picked up by the Falmouth Coastguard who tasked the RNLI Ilfracombe lifeboat to assist.

The Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was quickly launched and made its way out to the position where the vessel had made the call some 9 miles off shore from Ilfracombe. Sea conditions were good with a slight North westerly wind and a moderate swell. The lifeboat arrived at the original position where the distress call was made 25 minutes later however due to wind and tide the ketch had drifted. Fortunately as the visibility was excellent the crew were able to spot the mast on the horizon and quickly found the vessel 2 miles from the original position.

Arriving at the ketch the Volunteer Coxswain spoke to Mr Bowman to confirm the situation and then crew member Steve Ashton jumped onto the yacht to secure a tow line. The lifeboat then towed the ketch back to Ilfracombe harbour arriving two and a quarter hours later at just after 4 p.m. where the ketch was secured to a mooring and the lifeboat made ready for the next service.

Mr Bowman says: ‘The lifeboat crew were fantastic’ and thanked the crew for their efforts. Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘Today’s rescue shows that even a well prepared, experienced sailor can sometimes get into difficulties, he did the right thing in raising the alarm.’

Today’s shout was also the first service as Lifeboat Mechanic for crew member Matt Parr.

Notes to editors

  • Ilfracombe lifeboat station has been operating since 1866. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to
  • RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey is available for interview
  • Ilfracombe RNLI station operates a Shannon class all weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and a D class inshore lifeboat The Deborah Brown II.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Paula Kingdon, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07786 433744 or [email protected] or Marianne Quinn, Press Officer (South) on 07786 668847 or [email protected] or contact RNLI Media and Public Relations on 01202 336789


RNLI Ilfracombe yacht rescue

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 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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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.