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Long haul to get Ilfracombe trawler home

PUBLISHED: 11:04 10 October 2012

A tow line is thrown to Ilfracombe trawler Our Olivia Belle by a member of Tenby lifeboat crew. RNLI/Tenby.

A tow line is thrown to Ilfracombe trawler Our Olivia Belle by a member of Tenby lifeboat crew. RNLI/Tenby.

RNLI/Tenby

Video: Our Olivia Belle brought safely home by three lifeboat crews and her sister ship after steering fails.

A STRICKEN Ilfracombe fishing trawler was rescued after being towed for more than 14 hours across the Bristol Channel.

The 200-tonne plus Our Olivia Belle lost steering in lumpy seas off the South Wales coast in the early hours of Monday morning.

Tenby lifeboat launched just before 2am and the decision was made to tow her back to Ilfracombe.

At 6am the Ilfracombe all weather lifeboat Spirit of Derbyshire took over the tow, but in challenging seas and at a crawl of only three-and-a-half knots, progress was very slow.

The trawler is towed back towards Ilfracombe by both Appledore and Ilfracombe lifeboats. Pic: RNLI/Ilfracombe. The trawler is towed back towards Ilfracombe by both Appledore and Ilfracombe lifeboats. Pic: RNLI/Ilfracombe.

Appledore lifeboat was called out to assist and arrived at 11.30 am, still 12 miles from Ilfracombe.

For a time the two lifeboats towed the trawler together, but when Ilfracombe’s tow line broke, Appledore continued alone.

The trawlers sister ship Our Josie Grace, also owned by the Wharton family, was enroute to help and now only an hour away.

Ilfracombe’s lifeboat headed back refuel and give the crew a well earned break, while Appledore lifeboat kept towing until it was taken over by Our Josie Grace.

At 6pm the two trawlers finally sighted Ilfracombe and home. The lifeboat launched again, joined by the inshore lifeboat to help bring the trawler safely to harbour.

The Ilfracombe lifeboat volunteers finally got home at midnight, meaning they had been away for 20 hours.

“The team work showed by the crew was amazing, especially in the very testing conditions. It goes to show all the training we do is worthwhile and certainly helped bring the Our Olivia Belle back to a safe haven,” said coxswain Andrew Bengey.

* WATCH a video here of the Tenby lifeboat crew’s efforts during the first stage of the tow.

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