Torbay RNLI tow 40 foot yacht to safety after she loses steerage in bad weather

Lifeboats News Release

Torbay's Severn Class all-weather lifeboat (ALB) was launched last Saturday at 1:50pm in response to a mayday from a 40 foot yacht with 5 crew, which had lost steerage in worsening weather and seas, 4 miles south-east of Berry Head

The currents and wind direction meant it was a following sea from the stricken yacht back to Torbay and Brixham, which added complexity because a towed yacht without steerage in such conditions would swing, flounder, and potentially broach.

The crew therefore passed a drogue to the yacht for her crew to drop off the rear. A drogue helps stabilise a towed yacht that lacks steerage by adding drag once she’s brought underway by the towing vessel and is especially important in following seas.

The volunteer lifeboat crew had to carefully maintain a workable distance between the ALB and yacht in the blustery weather, to enable them to throw across the drogue and subsequently secure a towing line. Once this was achieved, they were then able to tow her steadily back to Brixham harbour where they secured her to MDL Marina’s visitor’s pontoon.

The ALB was returned to station at 3:57pm.

Mark Criddle, Torbay's RNLI Coxswain, pointed out ‘The situation wasn’t as straight forward as it first appeared due to the wind direction and sea conditions. But thanks the many hours of exercise and practice our volunteers have put in, and thanks to the yacht’s crew who were all wearing life jackets so we could instruct them to help on their unsteady boat, we managed to stabilise the situation and bring everyone back to safety without incident.’

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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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