RNLI Wells give immediate launch to sinking speed boat with man on board

Lifeboats News Release

HM Coastguard paged both the inshore and all-weather RNLI Wells lifeboats for an immediate launch at 6.28am on 16 May, after they had received a distress call from a person whose boat was sinking off the coast from Brancaster Golf Club, but the mobile phone call was cut off mid conversation.

All-weather lifeboat in the sea

RNLI/Chris Thomson

RNLI Wells lifeboat crew retrieve sunken speedboat

Wells inshore lifeboat launched at 6.40am, followed by the all-weather lifeboat at 6.47am, and both lifeboats headed for Brancaster.

At 7am the Coastguard received a new call from the skipper of the boat who had managed to swim the 100m ashore. He contacted them using the emergency contact phone located outside Brancaster Golf Club indicating that he was alright, but that his 16ft speed boat had sunk offshore.

The inshore lifeboat was on scene at 7.10am and met with the skipper on the beach. The man was wet and cold but well, and once he had confirmed the position of the sunken boat, the inshore lifeboat took him to the slipway at Brancaster Staithe, where he was met by the waiting Coastguard team at 7.30am.

The inshore lifeboat relayed the position of the sunken craft to the all-weather lifeboat, which and had on its way to Brancaster Staithe, managed to mark its position using a lifejacket attached to a mooring rope tied to the speedboat that was floating on the surface.

The all-weather lifeboat was on scene at 7.28am and quickly located the sunken speedboat. The stern of the speedboat was on the seabed, as the boat had a powerful outboard attached; however, the internal buoyancy within the hull meant the bow was just floating below the surface of the water.

The speedboat was a danger to shipping where it was, so when the inshore lifeboat returned alongside the all-weather lifeboat, it was decided that the crew would get a line on the speedboat and try to tow it to the foreshore. Once the tow line was fast the all-weather lifeboat commenced the tow toward the beach, subsequently passing the tow to the inshore lifeboat when the water started to become shallow. The inshore lifeboat managed to tow and beach the craft, and then the crew were able to pull the speedboat further up the beach with each rolling swell, until it was high and dry.

With the speedboat safely on the shore to enable further recovery, and no longer a danger, both lifeboats left the scene at 8.30am and returned to station.

The lifeboats were ashore outside the boathouse at 9.05am and were sanitised rehoused and refuelled at 10am.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said ‘the crew all acted with great speed and diligence on hearing there was a man in the water; thankfully the emergency phone at Brancaster Golf Club meant that the skipper could quickly make the call to the Coastguard to make known he was safe. This prevented unnecessary searching and a sense of relief that all was well. I am very proud of both lifeboat crews, as they demonstrated superb skill and seamanship today; it is what we train for’.

Speedboat being towed through the sea

RNLI/Chris Thomson

Lifeboat towed to safety by RNLI Wells 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.