Weston-super-Mare RNLI Lifeboat station volunteers rescue stranded yachtsman

When his yacht sinks near an island in the Bristol Channel the yachtsman scrambles ashore and texts his girlfriend for help.

It was just before three pm on Thursday 18th August when Swansea Coastguard paged the volunteers of Weston-super-Mare RNLI Lifeboat station. A member of the public had telephoned the Coastguard to say that they had received a text message from a friend. That friend stated that his yacht had sunk near Steep Holm Island, in the middle of the Bristol Channel. He had managed to get ashore on the uninhabited Island but needed help.

The D Class lifeboat Anna Stock was launched and headed towards the Island which is about four miles offshore. When they arrived near the island they quickly found the mast of a yacht sticking out of the water but no sign of the occupant. However on searching the shoreline they found a discarded buoyancy aid.

Retrieving lifeboat and casualty

Retrieving lifeboat and casualty

They continued searching around the Island but found nothing. They were just about to call for an RAF helicopter to assist in the search when Swansea Coastguard managed to contact the survivor. Apparently he had climbed up the Island and had sought refuge in the old barracks on the top.

Eventually the casualty was instructed in how to make direct contact with the lifeboat via a radio he had. He was told to walk down to the beach where the lifeboat picked him up. It then made best speed back to Knightstone Harbour where he was checked over by the lifeboat crew. Apart from being wet he had no injuries and was handed over to the Weston Coastguard. It transpired that the yacht has sunk because it had been swamped by a rising tide while near the beach. The tides rise very quickly in the Bristol Channel.

The lifeboat was made ready for further service and the crew stood down at half past five.

Simon Cresser, RNLI helmsman said; ‘This man was lucky he was near the Island when his craft sank. He was found because of a text message but this is not a secure way of calling for help. He should have had a VHF radio he knew how to use and flares for calling for help. We always suggest all sailors are properly equipped. If any have any doubts about their seaworthiness the RNLI does offer free Boat Checks. Just ask at the lifeboat station.’

Posted in RNLI.