Lytham St Annes RNLI launch to broken down yacht
Drama in the Irish Sea off the mouth of the River Ribble
A yachtswoman sailing single-handed in her 9.44 metre (31 foot) yacht from Liverpool Marina heading for the Douglas Boatyard at Hesketh Bank, got into difficulties when engine problems developed when off the Ribble. Unable to enter the estuary due to the low tide and with a risk of the vessel being forced onto the outlying sandbanks by the wind, the owner requested help.
The Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC Holyhead Coastguard) requested the launch of the Lytham St Annes All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) Barbara Anne to assess the situation. They also requested the nearby offshore gas rig supply ship Grampian Talisman to head for the scene in case assistance was needed.
The Lifeboat set off at 3.50pm with Coxswain Tom Stuart in command and caught up with the yacht off the Gut Buoy at the mouth of the Ribble. To help the skipper maintain the vessels position circling off the estuary only under a head sail, two Lifeboat Crew members, Will Bridge and Vinny Pedley were transferred across to the yacht in difficult and squally conditions. The yacht was at times rolling in heavy swells. The Barbara Anne meanwhile stood by in readiness to move in and assist if needed.
As soon as sufficient tide had made to allow the yacht to be taken into the river, the yacht’s sail was lowered and the Lifeboat began to tow her into the estuary. The restricted space in the channel made sailing in at that state of tide not an option.
After towing upriver for six miles, the Lifeboat and casualty arrived off Lytham Town to be met by the Lytham St Annes Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) MOAM which had launched at Seafield Road with Helm Ben McGarry in command.
At the mouth of the Lytham Dock Channel (Lytham Creek), the tow was transferred to the smaller Lifeboat and the crew on board replaced by Mark Briggs and Chris Penrice. The yacht was safely berthed at Lytham Dock and the skipper was brought back to the ILB Boathouse to recover and be checked over after her ordeal.
Both Lifeboats returned to their respective boathouses to be checked, washed and refuelled before the Crew were finished for the night at around midnight.
Volunteer crew member Will Bridge said, “We sailed the yacht at first in the Irish Sea to avoid towing and at times she got up to 7 knots (nautical miles per hour) on just her head sail”.
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.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries