How the Lyme Regis RNLI lifeboat crew rescued a ‘silent’ sailor

Lifeboats News Release

The rescue by the crew of the Lyme Regis lifeboat of a sailor who is deaf and unable to use his boat radio because he has no voice has been praised by the man’s family.


Rich Tilley Lyme Regis RNLI Lifeboat crew and Justin Paull

Justin Paull, 52, from Bridport, was eight miles west of Wyke Regis on Thursday (May 5th) when his 5m fishing boat, Sally Ann, suffered engine failure.

He was able to text the word ‘emergency’ to his sister, Janine Paull-Sellick who made a video call in BSL (British Sign Language) so that Justin could explain that both his main engine and his spare had failed.

Janine called the coastguard, explained Justin’s problems, and they alerted the RNLI volunteers in Lyme Regis.

Lifeboat crew member Rich Tilley boarded Justin’s boat and using white marker boards and a pen wrote questions and drew diagrams telling Justin what was happening.

“We had been briefed about Justin before launching,” said Rich “so I thought we should take the boards to write messages for him. I wrote questions such are you fit and well and explained how we were going to tow his boat for about an hour to the safety of West Bay harbour. He was pleased to see us and even took a selfie with me.”

Justin’s sister, Janine said: “I can’t find words enough to thank the lifeboat crew. They were just brilliant.

“From a young age Justin found a love for the sea. It has always been his meditation, his place to go to switch off from the world and his daily challenges. He has never feared the ocean, just loved it. However, as his loved ones. we have always worried about it. But nevertheless we support his passion for the sea.

“He has all the up to date technology and takes every safety measure. He always lets the family know when he is going out on his boat and when he will arrive back. And the harbourmaster and his team always keep an eye out for him. He has amazing support from the community.”

Justin, who is chairman of Bridport Deaf Club, made a video in sign language explaining his problems. He signed: “I went to use my second engine but the bracket failed and snapped and the engine fell into the sea. I had a huge struggle to get it back. I cannot believe it. It is the first time in my life that this has happened. I am in shock, it’s terrible my boat is well prepared for emergencies, but the emergency back-up has failed.”

The rescue operation began at 12.40pm when the lifeboat was launched. After towing Justin’s boat into West Bay harbour the lifeboat crew returned to Lyme Regis at 3.15pm

The rescue of Justin, which happened in the middle of Deaf Awareness Week, was the 9th emergency call answered by the Lyme Regis lifeboat volunteers so far this year.


Justin and his sister Janine (centre) visiting Lyme Regis Lifeboat station


'Lone Fisherman' Rich explaining the situation to Justin


Justin's fishing boat

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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