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St Mary’s and Sennen Cove RNLI volunteers battle Storm Evert

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI volunteer crew from St Mary’s and Sennen Cove spent the night at sea last night (Thursday 29 July) battling Storm Evert to assist a number of yachts in difficulty around the Isles of Scilly.

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Stock image of St Mary's RNLI Severn class lifeboat facing rough seas.

And in Falmouth, RNLI volunteers launched their inshore lifeboat twice in the early hours to assist vessels which had dragged their anchors.

Sennen Cove all-weather lifeboat was tasked at around 11.10pm to assist St Mary’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat due to the volume of yachts getting into difficulty around the islands of the Isles of Scilly in the storm force conditions.

Sennen Cove RNLI volunteer crews battled horrendous conditions, described as some of the worst they’ve experienced in their Tamar class lifeboat, with the passage to St Mary’s taking them just over three hours.

Yachts at locations around the islands were in need of assistance. Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre reported a total of 22 incidents throughout the night. Volunteers from St Mary’s and Sennen Cove lifeboats worked together with the HM Coastguard helicopter and local teams to respond to a stream of incidents, battling storm force winds and rain in order to reach the vessels in need.

Coxswain of St Mary’s RNLI lifeboat Pete Hicks said it was an incredibly busy night: ‘We were afloat from about 11pm until around 3am this morning, it was a very busy night for everyone involved. I went aboard Sennen Cove RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat to assist the crew with local knowledge of the area, and with a huge team effort we were able to successfully rescue everybody in difficulty.

‘The conditions were horrendous, at one point we had over 50knots of wind with squally showers.’

Sennen Cove RNLI was stood down at around 4.30am and the crew tied up alongside the harbour in St Mary’s for some rest. As they left the islands this morning they were tasked to escort a yacht to a different anchorage. After almost 12 hours afloat, they returned to station at around 10am this morning, tired and in need of sleep.

Elsewhere at Falmouth RNLI, volunteers launched their Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Robina Nixon Chard twice overnight to assist vessels which had dragged their anchors. The first launch was at 8.20pm when a yacht was reported to have dragged its anchor and hit another vessel in the River Fal. The inshore lifeboat volunteers stood by while the vessel’s crew reset its anchor and repositioned the vessel. The pagers sounded again at 11pm to two vessels caught in anchorage near the lifeboat station. The lifeboat crews lifted and reset the anchors and helped to reposition the vessels.

Guy Botterill, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, said: ‘While most of us were tucked up warm and dry in our homes, our dedicated crews spent hours at sea in the dark helping people in difficulty, contending with horrendous conditions brought on by Storm Evert. Their courage, selflessness and dedication is admirable.

‘While the worst of the weather has passed through, we would urge vessel owners to make sure their anchor and mooring lines are secure and also to check local weather and wind reports prior to planning any passages.'

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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