It has been a busy few days for the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews as the good weather has tempted people to head out to sea, but despite the calm conditions incidents can still happen.
On the afternoon of 16 April, following a call by a concerned member of the public, HM Coastguard tasked Littlehampton lifeboat station’s crews to attend a 24ft yacht in difficulty, offshore from Elmer, near Middleton-on-Sea. It had run aground just west of Elmer rocks as the tide was falling.
Littlehampton’s B-Class lifeboat Renee Sherman arrived on the scene at 3.39pm and Littlehampton’s Coastguard Rescue Team also attended on the shore. The water depth was too shallow for the lifeboat to safely navigate to the yacht, but the Coastguard team were able to walk to the vessel and confirm that the two crew on board were safe. The yacht’s crew decided to wait for a rising tide later in the evening to re-float the vessel. The lifeboat was stood down at this time and returned to the boathouse at Fisherman’s Quay.
Later the same evening, however, Littlehampton’s lifeboat crews were paged again as the crew of the yacht had reported to HM Coastguard that, although they had re-floated the vessel they were now suffering engine problems and were grounding violently in the swell. Renee Sherman was again launched arriving on the scene moments after the yacht’s two crew had decided to abandon ship and made their own way to the beach.
Littlehampton’s Coastguard Rescue Team were again also in attendance and assisted the yacht’s crew onshore. Although a flooding tide, the draft of the B-class lifeboat was too great to safely navigate to the yacht to attach a recovery line so Littlehampton’s D-Class Ray of Hope was also launched in order to assist. Following an assessment of the position of the casualty vessel, its condition and the sea state it was determined to still be aground and taking on water at the stern. It was concluded that re-floating the yacht was not an option so it was made fast using lines to a groyne. The lifeboat crews reported to HM Coastguard that no further actions could be taken and both lifeboats were stood down, returning to the boathouse at midnight.
Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Littlehampton and Deputy Launch Authority for these incidents, said: “As a new leisure sailing season gets underway in our coastal waters a general recommendation to those setting to sea is to ensure that maritime charts are up-to-date, you have relevant tide tables, at least one means of communication and that equipment on your vessel, including safety equipment, is fully operational and in date – particularly if it has not been used over winter. Most importantly, always wear a lifejacket.”