A Challenging Rescue for Mudeford RNLI volunteers

Lifeboats News Release

It was an early start for Mudeford RNLI volunteers when the lifeboat was requested to launch at 5.11 am on Monday 26th September in response to a MAYDAY call.

The 'Mudeford Servant' lifeboat (stock photo).


The 'Mudeford Servant' lifeboat (stock photo).

The call was received from a 30 foot sailing vessel with one person on board and stated that the boat was drifting towards the shore at an unspecified location near Milford-on-sea.

The vessel was on passage from Poole to Lowestoft and the person on board had decided to anchor for the night off the shore at Milford on Sea. However, as the weather deteriorated and changed direction, from a northerly into the west, it caused the vessel to drag its anchor.

The lifeboat volunteers launched into darkness with a moderate sea and strong winds, making the shore line search towards Hurst Castle challenging, particularly as the casualty vessel did not have power to the mast lights.

Once located, the yacht was found to be less than 100 metres from the shore and, even more concerning, the rock sea defences. The vessel was pitching and rolling vigorously in the seas with the occupant being unwell below deck.

The decision was made that one of the volunteer crew should board the yacht to assess the casualty. The weather conditions made it extremely difficult for the Mudeford Lifeboat Mudeford Servant to come alongside the distressed vessel, and remain sufficiently stable for a member of the crew to move from one boat to the other.

It was agreed the best solution would be to assist the casualty onto the lifeboat and away from danger. Unfortunately he was not well enough to make the transfer in the stormy conditions. This meant that the only possible solution was to set up a tow.

The crew member already on board the yacht had to make the perilous move to the foredeck to receive a line. Turbulent and unstable conditions meant that the crew member had to lie flat in order to keep from being thrown overboard. She cut the anchor line cut loose and connected the tow, enabling a safe retrieval of the occupant and the vessel.

The vessel and casualty were taken to Lymington, where the skipper was assessed for medical care.

Ian Parker, one of the crew, commented, ‘As a long term helm and crew member, I can honestly say that this was one of the more challenging rescues we have experienced. It is only when faced with a situation like this, that you appreciate how well trained and skilled the team is. They worked exceptionally well together staying calm in difficult conditions, using their training to effect a rescue and save the life of the person on board.’

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.