Two shouts in one night for Ilfracombe RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

The Ilfracombe all-weather lifeboat was paged twice on Saturday 14 August. The first time at 8.34 p.m. to respond to a mayday distress signal and the second time to assist the Minehead RNLI lifeboat following a report of people cut off by tide.

Ilfracombe Shannon class lifebo9at at sea

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Library image Ilfracombe all-weather lifeboat

The Appledore RNLI Tamar class all-weather lifeboat Mollie Hunt was initially tasked following a DSC radio mayday distress call from a yacht, two and a half miles north east from Lundy Island. The Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter was also tasked to search for the yacht. The Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat was paged 15 minutes later to assist with the search as the nature of the distress was unknown. The Ilfracombe Shannon class all-weather lifeboat (ALB) The Barry and Peggy High Foundation was launched by the volunteer crew just after 8.30 p.m. The lifeboat quickly left the harbour and made its way out to Lundy at full speed on a slight sea and with a 10 knot westerly wind.

The yacht was found by a commercial tanker who had received the mayday relay call from the Coastguard and had turned around to look for the vessel. The tanker found the yacht with the man onboard shining a torch to attract attention. Once the position of the yacht was known, the Coastguard helicopter then arrived. The Ilfracombe ALB arrived on scene 40 minutes later, a few minutes after the Appledore lifeboat. The small yacht which had sailed out of Instow, with a man and his dog onboard, was found to have broken its rudder and had lost steering, and the although the man was able to make the DSC distress call, his radio communications had also failed and he had been unable to speak to the Coastguard. A line was secured to the yacht and the Appledore lifeboat took the yacht under tow to return to Instow.

RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘Mechanical failures can happen to even the most well prepared sailors and the man did the right thing in making the DSC mayday call when he lost steering. He was wearing a lifejacket and he assisted the search by shining a light. We would always recommend that anyone heading out on the water carries a means of calling for help.’

The Ilfracombe lifeboat had begun to make the return trip back to harbour when the crew were paged again by the Coastguard, this time to back up the Minehead RNLI Atlantic 85 lifeboat crew who had launched following a report of several people cut off by tide at Sillery Sands near Lynmouth. The lifeboat was stood down just before it arrived at Lynmouth as the people were found to be fishermen who had intended to be cut off, to go night fishing. Both lifeboats then returned to station, and the Ilfracombe lifeboat arrived back at llfracombe harbour at 11.00 p.m. to be recovered and cleaned ready for the next service

RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘Although the shout to the fisherman turned out to be a false alarm with good intent, the member of the public did the right thing in reporting what they perceived as someone in difficulty. It is always better to be safe than sorry and safety is always our priority.’

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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