Lifeboat volunteers responded to numerous call outs from yachts around the UK requiring assistance this May bank holiday weekend.
The multiple rescues coincided with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) Mayday weekend, an annual national fundraiser for the charity’s life-saving work.
Based on 2015 figures, the Mayday Forecast predicts approximately 8,200 people will be rescued and hundreds of lives will be saved by the RNLI’s volunteer crews around the coasts of the UK and Ireland in 2016.
If 2015 is anything to go by, lifeboat crews will spend over 229,000 hours at sea.
The bank holiday weekend got off to an early start for the Swanage RNLI volunteers when the pagers sounded at 8am on Saturday.
Solent Coastguard requested the launch of the all-weather lifeboat (ALB) to assist a nine-metre yacht that was fouled on a lobster pot marker buoy not far from St Albans Head.
The stricken yacht crew had issued a ‘pan pan’ and were unable to free themselves. The lifeboat slipped its mooring at around 8.15am and was alongside the yacht just over 15 minutes later.
The Coxswain, Dave Turnbull, held the lifeboat in position alongside the yacht, placing two volunteer lifeboat crew aboard the stricken yacht to help release the yacht’s propeller from the line and secure a tow when it became clear it was not possible to remove all the line.
Dave Turnbull said: ‘The manoeuvrability of the new state-or-the-art Shannon class lifeboat came in to its own, enabling me to quickly and safely come alongside the stricken yacht.’
The yacht was secured to the RNLI mooring in Swanage Bay and a local diver offered to clear the obstruction from the yacht a little later in the day.
Volunteer lifeboat crew at Portaferry RNLI also responded to a launch request from the coastguard on Saturday to go to the aid of two men on board a yacht which had run onto rocks in Strangford Lough, County Down.
The Portaferry lifeboat, an inshore Atlantic 85, launched at 9.22am and the volunteer crew were quickly on scene at Long Rock just off East Down Yacht Club, Strangford Lough, County Down at 9.32am.
The weather at the time was cloudy with good visibility, a force 3 north westerly wind and calm sea.
The volunteer RNLI crew fixed a line to the 28-foot yacht and towed it off the rocks where it had become stranded.
Once the yacht was free, the two men on board proceeded to East Down Yacht Club accompanied by the Portaferry RNLI lifeboat crew.
Portaferry RNLI Lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie said: ‘It has been a busy few months for the crew in Portaferry and we were delighted to have been able to assist these two men who had run into some difficulty.
‘We are now entering our most busy time of year and we would urge everyone taking to the water to make sure that they prepare properly and check that all equipment is tested and in good working order. The RNLI offers sea safety advice on RNLI.org/RespectTheWater.’
At 1.57pm on Saturday, an unexpected squall hit the mouth of Lymington river and several sailing boats capsized.
Lymington and Yarmouth RNLI lifeboats soon arrived on scene and found more than 10 sailors in the water.
All the casualties were assisted to the local slipway.
Lymington RNLI volunteer helm, Phil Baker said: ‘This was an unexpected and very strong gust catching a lot of people out, thanks to local help on scene, we were able to recover over 10 sailors quickly from the water.’
In Anglesey, Wales, the volunteer crew members of the RNLI Beaumaris lifeboat were paged by the Coastguard at 4.07pm on Saturday to attend one vessel but then received call outs to a further two incidents.
The first rescue involved a 17 foot speedboat located off Bangor pier which had a rope entangled around the propeller. The lifeboat towed the speedboat to the Port Dinorwic marina.
While en route back to Beaumaris, at 5.05pm the coastguard requested the lifeboat to proceed to the Penmon beach area as a member of the public had reported a six foot inflatable dinghy which appeared to be having engine problems.
The lifeboat proceeded to the area and located the craft which did indeed have an engine failure but the occupant was confident that he could row back to shore. The lifeboat stood by until the dinghy reached safe ground.
At 5.33pm the coastguard requested the lifeboat to attend a motor boat with engine failure near the pier at Bangor. A passing yacht had already gone to the assistance of the 21 foot vessel and was able to stop the boat drifting with the tide.
Once on scene the lifeboat placed a crew member aboard the casualty vessel to assist the sole occupant in preparing the boat for towing. The lifeboat crew thanked the people aboard the yacht for their assistance. The casualty craft was then towed into Port Penrhyn.
The Beaumaris lifeboat volunteers returned to the boathouse at 6.20pm.
In County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, Arklow RNLI lifeboat volunteers were alerted by pager at approximately 7pm yesterday evening a call for help from a vintage sailing vessel.
The yacht had suffered engine failure and was stranded just east of Arklow harbour.
The Arklow RNLI volunteer crew towed the vessel safely back into Arklow.
Mark Corcoran, community safety officer said: ‘On this the RNLI’s Mayday fundraising weekend, our fundraising team and boats crew have been busy with all kinds of fundraising events.
‘Even after a long day of fundraising our dedicated volunteers turned up this evening en masse to go to the aid of the crew of this stricken vessel. We’re all very proud to be involved with the RNLI, so please give generously to the Mayday campaign to help keep us doing what we do, which is saving lives at sea.’
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