Ilfracombe RNLI launch to sailing dinghy in difficulty

Lifeboats News Release

The Ilfracombe lifeboat was launched on Tuesday 24 August after a small sailing dinghy with two people onboard was reported in difficulties two miles out to sea from Lee Bay, near Ilfracombe.

Shannon class all-weather lifeboat

RNLI/Neil Perrin

Ilfracombe RNLI all-weather lifeboat (library image)

The small two person dinghy made a distress call to the Coastguard from a hand held VHF when they got into difficulties attempting to sail back to Ilfracombe against the strong wind and tide. The two people onboard were waving and managed to attract the attention of local fishing vessel Reel Deal as it was making its way past to deeper water on a fishing trip. The fishing vessel started to make its way towards the dinghy when it capsized and the two people were tipped into the water. The skipper of the Reel Deal managed to reach the two people and pull them onboard the fishing vessel. The two men were wearing wetsuits and buoyancy aids, and told the skipper that they had previously capsized and although they had managed to climb back on board the dinghy they had lost the handheld VHF radio. The Reel Deal skipper alerted the Coastguard who tasked the Ilfracombe lifeboat to assist.

The volunteer crew launched the Ilfracombe RNLI all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation just after 2.30 p.m. Outside the harbour conditions were moderate with a 20 knot (23 mph) fresh easterly wind and a 1 – 2 metre swell. The lifeboat met the returning fishing vessel just offshore from Tunnels Beaches and the two men, who were cold and wet, were taken onboard the lifeboat, where they were given blankets and taken inside to warm up. The lifeboat then made its way to Lee Bay to search for the dinghy which was found still floating upside down. The dinghy was taken under tow and the lifeboat returned to Ilfracombe harbour where the two men and the dinghy were placed into the care of the Ilfracombe Coastguard.

RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘the conditions today would have been challenging for a small dinghy and the two men today were struggling against the strong wind and waves. Fortunately they were carrying a radio and were able to raise the alarm. We would always recommend checking the tide and weather conditions before heading out to sea and wearing a buoyancy aid or lifejacket and carrying a means of calling for help.’

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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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