Ilfracombe RNLI launch to assist fishing vessel

Lifeboats News Release

The Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat was launched on Wednesday 1 September to assist a local potting boat with a fouled propeller seven miles north east of Lundy Island.

RNLI/Nikki Bradshaw

Ilfracombe lifeboat launches to assist potting vessel

The RNLI volunteer crew were paged just after 6.45 a.m. and quickly launched the Ilfracombe RNLI Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation and made their way out of the harbour. The lifeboat made good speed out to sea in choppy conditions with a strong force 5 - 6 (25mph) easterly wind and two metre swell.

Arriving on scene 30 minutes later the lifeboat found the potting vessel with its propeller and rudder caught in the pots buoy line. The skipper of the vessel told the lifeboat coxswain that they had tried for over an hour to get free, but the strong ebbing tide and wind meant the vessel was pulling taut against the line, so they had been unable to do so.

The RNLI lifeboat coxswain assessed options for freeing the potting boat from the line, and following discussion with the vessel’s skipper, a plan was agreed. A lifeboat crew member was placed aboard the potting vessel and a line from the lifeboat was attached. The lifeboat then used its engines to take the weight of the potting vessel to relieve the strain on the buoy line, and the potting vessel crew were able to cut the line and attach a new buoy to secure the potting gear below the water. The potting vessel crew were then able to remove the fouled line and free the boat. The lifeboat then pulled alongside the potting boat for the crew member to make their way back onto the lifeboat. Having made sure all was well, the lifeboat crew returned to Ilfracombe harbour arriving at 8.45 a.m. where the lifeboat was secured to a mooring to be ready for planned exercises later that day.

RNLI Volunteer Coxswain Andrew Bengey says: ‘The potting vessel crew were well prepared but the strength of the tide and wind meant they were unable to free themselves. It was a challenging shout and difficult for the crew member to transfer between the lifeboat and the fishing vessel due to the large swell and choppy conditions.’

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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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