IT was all hands to the pumps for Ilfracombeâ€™s volunteer lifeboat crew after a catamaran that had run aground at Lynmouth began to sink as soon as it was freed.
They were called out on Thursday to help the people on board the sailing vessel after it had fetched up on the boulder strewn foreshore near Lynmouth Harbour.
Those aboard the Ilfracombe all weather lifeboat feared the vessel could be smashed on the rocks, but faced a challenging task evacuating her crew in shallow waters of a metre or less.
The Ilfracombe inshore lifeboat was also launched and the people helped safely ashore before the larger lifeboat pulled the catamaran back out to sea.
As soon as she was clear of the shore it became obvious that she was taking on water so the lifeboat crew quickly manoeuvred along side and put the salvage pump aboard to try and pump the water out.
Even with the pump at full speed, they were unable to prevent the water level rising and after 15 minutes the battle was lost and there was just time to recue some personal items for the owners before the catamaran sank to leave just a few inches of the roof showing.
The RNLI was then able to tow it back to Lynmouth and on to a mooring outside the harbour.
Ilfracombe Coxswain Andrew Bengey said the crew of both RNLI boats worked extremely hard to save the vessel using nearly all the equipment they carried to keep her afloat.
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