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Multiple requests for assistance as Fastnet yachts battle stormy conditions

Lifeboats News Release

Weymouth's all weather lifeboat Ernest & Mabel launched to multiple incidents in challenging conditions, gale force winds and 3-5 metre waves off Portland.

Weymouth RNLI 17-32 ERNEST & Mabel


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On Saturday evening, 22 July, the station Duty Launch Authority received a launch request from the Coastguard at 6.40pm, which proved to be the start of a very busy evening for Weymouth's volunteer lifeboat crew.

Assistance was required following activation of an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon), registered to a Dutch yacht off Portland Bill. That quickly turned out to be a false alarm so with all the yacht crew safely accounted for the shout was cancelled.

Immediately after the volunteer crew standing down a second request for assistance was received, at 7.06pm, and Weymouth's ALB launched to another EPIRB alert. This time reporting some 13 miles east off Portland.

After making good speed toward the reported location, contact was established with the vessel, all crew were all accounted for and the alert was attributed to a lifejacket accidently inflating.

Before the ALB, Ernest and Mabel, could return to the station a further Coastguard request re-tasked them to a yacht approximately 2nautical miles south of Portland Bill, having suffered structural failure of the deck. The vessel was located and was escorted into Portland harbour.

At 9.15pm the duty Launch Authority received a request to assist a dis-masted yacht off St Aldhem’s Head. This call was subsequently handed to Yarmouth lifeboat crew, who were closer, and the vessel was escorted into Poole harbour.

Still at sea, at 9.25pm the ALB crew responded to a PAN-PAN radio call for a yacht again dismasted off the Shambles.

At 9.35pm an AIS MOB (Man over board) alert was reported. It turned out to be a lifejacket inflated on a vessel, and the ALB was stood down.

Finally, at 11.30pm the Ernest & Mabel returned to Weymouth, where she refuelled and made ready, only to be called upon again and was immediately re-tasked to a yacht dragging anchor in Portland harbour. The vessel was escorted into harbour and made safe.

Weymouth lifeboat returned to station at 11.50pm where she was again refuelled and made ready.

After some six hours, in very challenging conditions, and attending multiple requests for assistance the volunteer crew were stood down.

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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