Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat launched to upturned hull
The Ilfracombe RNLI all-weather lifeboat was paged at 6.56 a.m. on Monday 4 May after an up turned hull was seen 9 miles off shore.
The upturned hull was spotted by Ilfracombe fisherman and RNLI crew member Ben Bengey who alerted the Coastguard. The Ilfracombe Shannon class relief lifeboat Cosandra was tasked to attend and the volunteer crew launched shortly after 7.00 a.m.
The lifeboat made good speed to where the hull had been seen 9 nautical miles north west of Baggy Point. Conditions were good for a search with a slight sea and a force 3 easterly wind. However, on arriving at the location 30 minutes later, the hull could not be seen. RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Carl Perrin instructed the crew to undertake an expanding box search around the area, but the hull could not be found. Following discussions with the Coastguard a further parallel track search was made down the tide line and finally at 10.05 a.m the hull was found 5 miles east of Lundy South Lighthouse, and 17 miles from Ilfracombe. The hull was in very poor condition and there was no sign that the hull had been taken to sea by any person.
The lifeboat crew attached a line to the 18ft long fibreglass hull and attempted to tow the hull back to Ilfracombe harbour, however due to its condition as the lifeboat gathered speed the hull quickly filled with water and submerged. The crew made attempts to sink the hull, however despite its condition it was still too buoyant to sink. Following discussions with the Coastguard it was decided to leave the hull at sea as it could not be recovered and would not present a hazard to shipping. The crew left the scene at 10.35 a.m. and arrived back at Ilfracombe harbour at 11.35 a.m. where the llifeboat was recovered and made ready for the next service.
Carl Perrin, Volunteer Coxswain for Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat says ‘the fisherman who called the Coastguard did the right thing in raising the alarm. We are always happy to be called out when people believe that lives may be in danger as our principal concern is to make sure that people are safe. If anyone does see someone they believe may be in danger then they should dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard’.
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.