The ‘importance of carrying a good VHF radio and not relying on a mobile phone’ was demonstrated when a yacht got into difficulties in the eastern Irish Sea.
A Mayday call was made from the cruiser when the three people on board were overcome by ‘rough sea conditions, severe seasickness and exhaustion’.
Ramsey RNLI lifeboat was launched at 09:17 on Friday, 8 July, to search for the yacht, which was ‘somewhere between the Isle of Man and Fleetwood’.
Since the exact position of the yacht was unknown, Douglas and Barrow RNLI lifeboats were also launched.
The yacht had set off from Fleetwood at 14:00 on Thursday, 7 July with the intention of sailing to the Isle of Man. At 06:00 the next day, they were within 10 miles of the island but decided to turn around because of deteriorating weather conditions and seasickness.
An RNLI spokesman said: ‘Due to a combination of sea conditions, severe seasickness and exhaustion the crew became disorientated and were unable to establish their position. They broadcast a Mayday distress call using their VHF radio and Belfast Coastguard picked this up. The sea conditions at the time were rough and the wind was westerly, force 5-6.’
The Isle of Man’s Steam Packet vessel Ben My Chree, en route from Douglas to Heysham, also picked up the Mayday call, and, with her officers making best use of her elevated bridge and radar, joined the search.
Since the yacht was beyond the range of the lifeboats radios the Ben my Chree became an essential link relaying messages to the lifeboats. Castletown Isle of Man Coastguard rigged their mobile radio direction finding equipment on Douglas Head and determined a radio bearing for the yacht.
A short time later the Ben My Chree identified a radar target which they believed to be the stricken yacht and diverted course to investigate, due west of the Duddon Estuary close to the wind farm. On confirming the vessel’s identity Ben My Chree carefully manoeuvred alongside to give the yacht some protection from the weather.
Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 from Caernarfon was scrambled in case an airlift was required.
Ramsey RNLI lifeboat, with coxswain Mark Kenyon at the helm, arrived on scene at approximately 11:00. Two of Ramsey’s volunteer crew, a doctor and a first aider, were quickly transferred to the yacht to assess the condition of the three people on board and to prepare a tow.
Once it was ascertained that there was no requirement for an airlift, the helicopter was stood down. With Douglas lifeboat standing by, Ramsey lifeboat established a tow.
Ben My Chree proceeded on its journey to Heysham.
At the request of Belfast coastguard, the tow was passed to Barrow RNLI lifeboat in order for the yacht to be returned its home port of Fleetwood.
Coxswain Mark Kenyon said: ‘This service demonstrates the importance of carrying a good VHF radio and not to rely on a mobile phone. Without the ability to follow a radio bearing a small vessel in rough seas can be a challenging target.
‘Fortunately, on this occasion, the Ben My Chree was able to provide an effective visual search platform without which the search may have been considerably longer.’
A small yacht without lights, VHF radio, GPS or flares was located by radar and mobile phone light after suffering…
Sniffy the dog and his owner were rescued by the RNLI after their yacht's steering failed off the North East…
Two people were rescued and a sinking yacht saved off the Jurassic Coast of Dorset this morning.
One yachtsman was killed, another lost overboard and three rescued from the 65ft yacht Platino, in extreme conditions off the…
Nine people have been rescued off the coast of Shetland after their yacht caught fire.
A yacht that made the headlines when her two-man American crew were assisted by the emergency services nine times in…