Sheerness RNLI recovers man from sinking sailing yacht
Both Sheerness RNLI lifeboats were involved after a call reporting a yacht was aground and taking on water
The volunteer crew of the Sheerness RNLI all weather lifeboat The George and Ivy Swanson launched at 11.15 pm on Friday 15 June after a call from the UK Coastguard reported that a yacht had run aground and was taking on water in the area of Grain Power Station outfall off the Isle of Grain directly across the estuary from the lifeboat station.
The lifeboat quickly located the 30-foot craft, which was lying on its port side and mostly submerged, with its lone male crew member out of the water and clinging to the rear guard rail of the craft.
With the Svitzer Tugs Monarch and Harty providing illumination the crew assisted the man aboard the lifeboat where he was assessed and other than being cold and slightly shocked was not suffering any other injuries.
The ALB then returned to station with the man to wait for the Sheppey Coastguard Rescue Team. Whilst they were waiting the crew made the ILB ready for launch to assist in securing a line from the sunken yacht and the Outfall Beacon.
The ALB returned to the scene with the inshore lifeboat to provide illumination and safety cover whilst the crew made the yacht secure. Having secured the craft, the lifeboats were stood down, returning to station at 12.40 am and ready for service again at 1.00 am
The yacht had initially run aground on a falling tide and with insufficient water for support it had canted over onto its side. When the tide turned the casualty was stuck fast on the rough ground and consequently became flooded as the water rose. The man on board was left in a dangerous situation with only a small area of the yacht still above water for him to cling to.
A further call from the UK Coastguard at 11.56 pm on 16 June reported that the same craft was in further difficulty in the same position as the previous night, this time with two men aboard.
After launching the ALB could not locate the craft in its previous location but a call from the Medway VTS reported that the vessel had been spotted at 10.00 pm going past Garrison Point, so the lifeboat searched the area and eventually found the craft at anchor in an unsafe position North of the Outfall Buoy off Sheerness.
Further communication from the UK Coastguard requested that the craft and its two occupants be towed to a place of safety, so with a tow line attached the vessel was taken to the all tide landing in Queenborough Harbour where the Sheppey Coastguard were once again waiting.
It is believed that the owner of the boat and another man had returned to the craft from Gillingham in a small dinghy and had managed to pump the water out and get the vessel re-floated, only to get into difficulty again when they were unable to make headway against the strong tide and fresh South Westerly winds.
The lifeboat was released at 1.25 am and after cleaning and refueling was ready for service again at 1.50 am.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.