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Penlee and The Lizard RNLI lifeboat crews launched into storm conditions

Lifeboats News Release

Both Penlee and The Lizard volunteer lifeboat crews launched into gale force conditions on Monday night (8 April) following a tasking request from Falmouth Coastguard to a solo French sailor who had triggered his distress beacon.


Library image of The Lizard lifeboat

The yacht had been dismasted and suffered a damaged rudder around 40 nautical miles south/south west of Newlyn and in the sea conditions, it was impossible for the casualty to proceed further.

Both all weather lifeboats launched around 10pm battling through rough seas with up to six metre waves, Force 11 winds and at times with very limited visibility due to the squally showers for about 20 miles towards the casualty. The storm system had been named Pierrick by Meteofrance.

Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 924 was also tasked and after making headway to the yacht’s position, it was confirmed that Rescue 924 had asked the sailor to enter the water thus enabling them to winch him to safety for an onward passage to hospital for medical assistance.

This allowed both lifeboats to be stood down and return to their respective stations. The Lizard lifeboat arrived back at Kilcobben Cove at 1.40am where she was rehoused, refuelled and by 2.00am was made ready for service again when required. Penlee’s lifeboat crew returns at a similar time.

Penlee RNLI Coxswain Patch Harvey said ‘The conditions were very poor especially for the helicopter crew who had to dodge flailing rigging but picked up the sailor after he had jumped into the sea to enable the rescue.’

Dickon Berriman, RNLI’s Area Lifesaving Manager for both stations said;

‘As many of us were listening to the storm rage outside, our volunteer crew, at both stations were responding to the pager, ready to leave their homes and go out into the elements to help someone in trouble. The conditions last night were extremely difficult and our crews had a long night ahead of them.

Huge credit should go to the Coastguard helicopter team who carried out an extremely difficult rescue in treacherous conditions to save the sailor.’

Earlier in the same day (8 April) at 4:09pm the RNLI Penlee’s all-weather Severn Class Lifeboat the relief lifeboat Volunteer Spirit was tasked by Falmouth Coastguards to a 30ft catamaran reportedly in difficulty heading to Penzance harbour with one person and a dog on board, the catamaran made the harbour safely and the lifeboat returned to station. The weather had been poor with a south-east gale and rough sea conditions.

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