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Lytham St Annes RNLI launch to assist yacht aground with three people on board

Lifeboats News Release

Lytham St Annes RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew guided a vessel to safety from the mouth of the River Ribble.

A Mersey class Lifeboat and Talus tractor being washed down in the night

RNLI/David Forshaw

Lytham St Annes Lifeboat returns to her boathouse in the early hours of 9th October 2017

The UK Coastguard requested the launch of Lytham St Annes lifeboats when a 26ft fin keel sailing vessel ran aground in the Ribble estuary while on passage from Barrow to Lytham Dock with three people on board.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were paged shortly after 9pm on Sunday evening (8 October) and the station’s relief inshore lifeboat (ILB) was quickly launched with Helm Jason Banks in command. The position given for the casualty proved incorrect but the ILB searched until the vessel was located over the sandbanks in the South Gut channel. To reach the yacht the inshore lifeboat had to leave the Ribble, head into the Irish Sea and work her way round to the South Gut Channel before re-entering the estuary to approach the vessel.

Once the highly dangerous position of the fin keel yacht was realised and with a massive 9.9m (32 foot) spring tide flooding rapidly into the estuary causing more concern, the station’s Mersey class all-weather lifeboat (ALB) Her Majesty the Queen was launched straight into the Irish Sea as backup for the smaller ILB. With Deputy Second Coxswain Tom Stuart in command, the ALB headed south to assist.

As the casualty came afloat on the rising tide, the two lifeboats guided her back out to sea and then with the Mersey lifeboat leading the way to check the depth of water and the inshore lifeboat in close escort alongside the yacht in case any damage had been caused during the grounding, the three vessels entered the Gut Channel and arrived off Lytham Town a few minutes before midnight. The inshore lifeboat escorted the yacht up to a berth in Lytham Dock while the ALB Her Majesty the Queen left, heading out seawards to return to her boathouse and to start the process of recovering on to her carriage.

The two lifeboats returned to their respective boathouses in the early hours of Monday (9 October) to be washed down and refuelled before the volunteer crews could go home to their beds. The ILB was ready again for service by 1.10am and the ALB lifeboat Her Majesty the Queen by 1.45am.

ILB crew member Rob Ansell later said: 'The yacht’s skipper was a highly experienced and capable sailor but had been unlucky to end up in the South Gut Channel. He had done the correct thing by asking the Coastguard to request the lifeboat as, despite having a well found craft with all safety aids, the 32 foot tide boring into the river left no margin for error and things could have quickly turned nasty.'

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact David Forshaw, Lytham St Annes RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07904 685206, or Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Media Officer, West, on 01745 585162 or 07748 265496 or chris_cousens@rnli.org.uk.

A lifeboat crew member stands in front of an ILB and Land Rover

RNLI/David Forshaw

Lytham ILB Helmsman Jason Banks after returning from service on 9th October 2017

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland

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