A 39ft (12m) yacht that ran aground while leaving James Watt Dock Marina later sank while under tow.

The boat owner contacted Belfast Coastguard to report that they had struck rocks at the marina entrance in Greenock, on the west coast of Scotland, at around 7am on Wednesday, 24 August.

The coastguard launched Helensburgh Lifeboat to assist. It was a falling tide and the lifeboat assisted with the shoring up of the yacht with timber sourced from the marina, and by escorting the three people and a small dog on board ashore

At high water the yacht made her way 200yds to the marina. As slings were being readied a structural failure occurred and the yacht sank at the crane berth with only the tip of her mast visible.

The sunken yacht at Greenock. Credit Craig Scholte

Photo credit: Craig Scholte

A spokesman for RNLI Helensburgh said: ‘Once on scene the lifeboat crew quickly ascertained that they could not refloat the vessel due to the ebbing tide and the fact that the yacht was hard aground on rocks. In order to minimise further damage to the vessel some shoring was procured from the marina and a stern anchor deployed.

‘After landing the three people (and dog) on board back to the James Watt Dock, the lifeboat returned to base after agreeing that a workboat from the marina would be in attendance when the vessel refloated.’

Just before 2pm however, Belfast Coastguard requested the lifeboat launch again as the owner of the grounded yacht, who had returned to it, reported that it was taking in water and the cabin was filling with sea water.

Once on scene the lifeboat crew attempted to pump out the water using both the lifeboat’s salvage pump and also one provided by the marina.

The lifeboat spokesman added: ‘With the pumps making some progress, as the tide flooded, a workboat from the marina started to stern tow the vessel off the rocks, with the intention of towing it to the boat lift in the James Watt Dock, however having started to tow it, it was clear that the vessel was taking in more water to such an extent that it sank when inside the James Watt Dock; the rocks that the vessel had been sitting on had either been plugging a hole in the hull, which had not been detected earlier, or it had sustained further damage when the yacht was towed off.

‘As there was nothing else that could be done by the lifeboat crew, and with all persons safe, the lifeboat returned to station and reported ready for service again at 17:11 hrs.’