Ilfracombe RNLI launch to rescue three men from fishing boat

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crew launched the Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat just after 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday 18 August to assist a small fishing boat taking on water near Mortehoe.

Crew members secure small fishing boat to mooring in Ilfracombe harbour with ALB in foreground


Ilfracombe RNLI tow fishing boat to harbour

The Ilfracombe RNLI crew were paged by the Coastguard following a distress call from a small day fishing boat who reported that the transom, the board at the stern of the boat, had broken off and that they were taking on water.

The volunteer crew were able to launch the station’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation, very quickly as the lifeboat was already out on a mooring in the harbour. The lifeboat made its way out of the harbour at full speed in a fresh westerly breeze and a metre to a metre and a half of swell. Arriving on scene just 10 minutes later the crew found the small boat drifting in strong currents in the tidal race near Morte Point. The three men aboard, who were not wearing lifejackets, were holding onto the outboard engine which was now lying on the floor of the boat, as it had been bolted to the transom, with the floor of the boat full of water.

The three men were quickly escorted onto the lifeboat, leaving the fishing boat behind, and were taken back to Ilfracombe harbour, arriving at 7.00 p.m. where the men were placed into the care of the Ilfracombe Coastguard. The lifeboat then returned to the fishing boat guided by Morthoe Coastguard Search and Rescue team who had been keeping eyes on the drifting vessel. The fishing boat was then taken under tow and an hour later arrived back at Ilfracombe harbour where it was placed on a mooring. The lifeboat was then recovered and made ready for the next service and the crew finally completing their service at 10.00 p.m. This was a long day for the volunteers at Ilfracombe RNLI who had started at 6 a.m. to assist with the arrival of a new relief SLARS (Shannon launch and recovery system).

Volunteer RNLI Coxswain Andrew Bengey says, ‘we would always recommend that people wear lifejackets if they are heading out to sea and carry a means of calling for help. The three men today had a radio with them and were able to alert the Coastguard when they got into difficulties. This has been a very busy time for the Ilfracombe RNLI volunteer crew with nine shouts since 3 August as more people have been heading out on the water and around the shoreline in the holiday period.’

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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