Volunteer crew from the RNLI’s Walton and Frinton Lifeboat Station launched their all-weather lifeboat at 11:36am yesterday Friday 18 June to go to a 'Mayday' initially from two yachts run aground 14 miles South East of station.
Shortly after launching into moderate seas and a falling tide, the UK Coastguard advised that further reports were coming in that another yacht had also gone aground in the same position as the two that were already known. With this new information Clacton Lifeboat was requested to launch given the number of casualties needing assistance.
While proceeding to the location of the three yachts another vessel also responded to the 'Mayday' putting their daughter craft in as close as possible to try to offer assistance however the lack of water prevented them getting close to the casualty yachts.
Once on scene, one of the casualty yachts had managed to re-float without damage and continued on their passage however that still left two yachts aground, with moderate seas continuing to push them up the bank. As both lifeboats arrived on the scene Clacton Lifeboat approached one of the casualties that was hitting the sand bank and placed a crew member on board to assist with securing their sails and configuring a slow tow to assist them coming off the bank. This was achieved by slowly turning the nose of the vessel around and with enough power to gently get the vessel off the sand bank, despite the Clacton crew grounding out on occasion due to the low tide.
Walton Lifeboat approached the 2nd casualty deploying their y-class daughter craft, which is carried onboard the Tamar All-weather Lifeboat, to allow a tow to be passed to assist the yacht off the bank.
With both yachts safely off of the sand bank, assessments were carried out to make sure the yachts could continue safely on their passage. Unfortunately one of the yachts had experienced a rudder failure upon grounding resulting in no steerage so a tow was established by Walton Lifeboat to ensure that the casualties were taken back to the nearest safe haven. The 2nd yacht had faired slightly better and didn't require any further assistance however was escorted back to Brightlingsea at the same time.
While the journey back to Brightlingsea had only just begun, one of the persons onboard the vessel under tow was experiencing severe sea sickness and required first aid treatment for the duration of the tow, and a Clacton crew member already aboard was joined by a Walton crew member to provide oxygen and medical treatment. As the conditions improved and the seas flattened the casualty continued to receive treatment, the Clacton crew member returned to their lifeboat, and were released to return to station. The yacht undertow was soon secured alongside and Walton Lifeboat was released and able to return to station some 8 hours after the initial call out.
An RNLI spokesperson commented: 'With three potential vessels in trouble and their associated passengers aboard we knew this could be a tricky operation, but by combining our volunteer crew resources from two stations, Walton & Frinton and Clacton-on-Sea we worked closely and achieved a good outcome for everyone. It demonstrates the team work that embodies everything we do as volunteers and as an organisation.
'We urge everyone who is planning to enjoy our waters around Essex to check tide times, consult with up to date charts and always have some way of contacting authorities should you run into trouble.
Both stations' lifeboats were successfully recovered and readied back for service shortly after completing this shout.
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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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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