TV chef and son ran aground fishing

Campaigning TV chef and writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was rescued on Monday, along with his 10-year-old son, when a fishing trip off Beer in Devon ended on the rocks.

Shortly before 4pm Portland Coastguard sent Sidmouth Lifeboat to the scene, after receiving a 999 call from a broken-down 5.8m (19ft) fishing vessel which had been washed onto the rocks near Beer Head by the locally-tricky currents.

At risk of being holed the lifeboat, an Arctic 24 RIB, held some 50m offshore while crew member Naomi Firth braved rocks and reef to swim through the rough waves, taking a line to the boat, before the helmsman could put the lifeboat in a safe position to tow the fishing vessel out.

The boats occupants, Hugh and Oscar Fearnley-Whittingstall, who had been well kitted out and were wearing both lifejackets, were shaken but unhurt. The boat was towed back to Beer beach and, shortly after 5pm, the casualties landed safely on the pontoon.

Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall later said: ‘I want to say a massive thank you to both the Portland Coastguard and the Sidmouth Lifeboat team. We got ourselves into a sticky situation and their response was fantastic. It is great to know that when things go wrong at sea we have a brilliant and dedicated team of men and women standing by to make sure incidents and accidents don’t become disasters.’

The chef is based at the River Cottage HQ near the coast on the Devon/Dorset border. He was most recently on our screens earlier this month in the fourth instalment of his Channel 4 TV show Hugh’s Fish Fight, which follows his campaign against EU industrial fishing quotas that cause so many of the fish caught around the UK to be thrown back dead. The programme is still viewable online (see link below).

The independent Sidmouth Lifeboat is not affiliated to the RNLI, which has its nearest lifeboat stations at Exmouth and Lyme Regis, more than 10 and 16 miles away respectively.

Sidmouth Lifeboat

Image: Channel 4 – Hugh’s Fish Fight