Fowey RNLI lifeboat launches 75 years to the day

Lifeboats News Release

On March 23 2022, Fowey’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew launched the all-weather lifeboat at 12.41 in response to a report of a paraglider who had come down on Vault beach near Gorran Haven.

On arrival at the scene, Fowey’s crew, along with Mevagissey Coastguard, found that the man was safe and had been able to recover his paraglider from the beach. The lifeboat was stood down and returned to the pontoon in Fowey by 2pm.

It was a very different story exactly 75 years ago, when on March 23 in 1947, Fowey’s reserve lifeboat, The Brothers, was launched at 4.40am. Setting out to sea in a force seven gale, the volunteer lifeboat crew were tasked to search Par Bay for the Empire Contamar, a vessel with a cargo of coal heading for Par from Maryport. After searching for an hour the crew saw a distress signal from the sunken vessel. During two rescue attempts in heavy seas and total darkness the lifeboat was washed over into the waist of the ship and out again, suffering damage to her bows. With a rising tide threatening to engulf the vessel the lifeboat crew had to make a quick rescue.

In what was one of the most outstanding and perilous rescues in the history of Fowey lifeboat station, the lifeboat crew battled on and safely rescued all seven crew from the sunken vessel. Coxswain Watters was awarded a bronze medal.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea since it was founded in 1824. Although today’s lifeboats and equipment are far superior to that of the past, it is still thanks to the dedication and commitment of volunteer lifeboat crews like those in Fowey, that lifeboats can continue to launch 24/7, never quite knowing what type of situation they may be faced with.

Mike Sutherland

Old Fowey lifeboat

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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