Barrow RNLI 9-hour Mission to Assist Yacht

Volunteer crew from the RNLI’s Barrow Lifeboat Station launched their all-weather lifeboat last night to go to the assistance of a yacht which had lost power, and which was drifting in rough seas.

Crew pagers were activated at 8-45pm following a request received from the regional HM Coastguard base in Holyhead. The information received was that a 37-foot (11.2 metres) yacht with two people on board had lost power at a position west of Seascale, some 30 miles from Barrow.

The Barrow lifeboat, ‘Grace Dixon’, was launched at 9-07pm under the command of Coxswain Shaun Charnley assisted by a crew of six. It was estimated that it would take some 90 minutes for the lifeboat to reach the scene.

The casualty vessel had drifted in the strong south-westerly wind from its original reported position and was in danger of being taken on to rocks off St. Bees. The crew of the yacht made another call to the Coastguard and requested to be taken off their vessel. As a result, Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 was deployed from Caernarfon and headed towards the area. At 10-40pm the Barrow lifeboat arrived at the scene which was now approximately one and a half miles south-west of St. Bees. The Coxswain assessed the situation and decided that taking the yacht under tow was the safest way to assist those on board, the yacht’s twin masts and the sea state making any attempt at an airlift extremely hazardous. The helicopter did, however, remain on scene to illuminate the yacht.

A tow line was established between the lifeboat and the yacht and a slow passage to Whitehaven was commenced. Once the vessels were in the lee of St. Bees Head adjustments were made to the tow and the vessels stood by awaiting the tide to rise sufficiently to enable entry into Whitehaven. At 4-00am, the stricken yacht was towed into Whitehaven and secured alongside the Marina pontoons. The lifeboat was then able to begin the passage back to Barrow.

The ‘Grace Dixon’ was safely back at the Barrow lifeboat station at 6-30am, over nine hours after the start of the rescue. The lifeboat was rehoused by the slip crew who had returned to the Boathouse and the lifeboat was made ready for the next launch.

The weather during the incident was overcast, and the wind was south-westerly, Force 4-5 and gusting up to Force 8. The high tide had passed at 6-16pm (Sunday) with a height of 7.8 metres.


Notes to editors

Barrow lifeboat station has been operating since 1864. To learn more about the lifeboat station, go to

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For more information, please telephone Chris Clouter, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Barrow on 07531 085900, or Danielle Rush, Regional Media Manager, Wales & North West, on 07786 668829 or online at or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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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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