Ilfracombe lifeboat tows stricken yacht to safety

North Devon Gazette

The Ilfracombe RNLI all-weather lifeboat was launched on Saturday, July 31, at 12.43pm after a distress call from a yacht four miles offshore from Ilfracombe.Â

The volunteer crew launched the Shannon class lifeboat, The Barry and Peggy High Foundation, after the Coastguard received a distress call from a 26-foot yacht with two people onboard.Â

The yacht had set off from Swansea and was north of Ilfracombe when it experienced problems with its propeller.

The all-weather lifeboat made good speed out of the harbour towards the vessel in moderate conditions with a force 5 (20 mph) westerly wind and a metre and a half swell.Â

The yacht was found four miles north of Ilfracombe without power and no sails up.Â

The volunteer lifeboat coxswain spoke to the two men by radio who confirmed that they had experienced a mechanical failure and requested assistance as they were unable to rig the sail due to the strong winds.Â

The two men were unharmed although one was experiencing sea sickness due to the swell.Â

A crew member was placed onboard and a tow line was quickly attached to the yacht. The lifeboat then towed the vessel back to safety in Ilfracombe harbour where the yacht was secured to a visitor mooring.Â

The lifeboat then returned to station by 1.30pm and was then cleaned and made ready for the next service.Â

Volunteer lifeboat Coxswain Carl Perrin said: “The two men today did the right thing in calling for help. Mechanical failures can happen to even the best prepared sailors and the two men today were experienced sailors and were wearing life jackets. If you see someone you think may be in difficulty, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”Â

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.Â

The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands.Â

The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service.