Four emergencies in 10 days for Ilfracombe RNLI crews

AUTUMN has brought a flurry of activity for the RNLI lifeboat crews at Ilfracombe.

Over a 10-day period, the volunteers have launched to four emergencies, the latest being three people trapped in a small boat that had broken down in force seven winds and rough seas.

The inshore lifeboat was launched last Wednesday afternoon and found the small boat drifting one mile north of Ilfracombe. The three occupants were trying to paddle back to shore after their engine broke down.

The RNLI crew transferred the people to the lifeboat and fitted them with lifejackets before towing the boat back. Due to the strong winds and large sea, the inshore lifeboat crew had to get close to the shore to find calmer conditions, before heading back to the harbour.

On October 29 the volunteers had a 1am awakening, when both the inshore lifeboat and the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat were launched to three kayakers stranded on Morte Point.

In choppy seas, the crew on the bigger lifeboat helped coastguard colleagues on the shore to illuminate the scene, while one of the volunteers from the inshore lifeboat went ashore. The three kayakers had been driven on to Morte Stone by the tide after one had suffered from fatigue. All three and their kayaks were transferred to the all-weather lifeboat and taken back to harbour.

Two days earlier the all-weather lifeboat was launched mid-morning to a fishing vessel with machinery failure. The 12 metre potting boat was 14 nautical miles north west of Ilfracombe, but having arrived in a speedy 45 minutes, it took the lifeboat and crew two-and-a-half hours to tow the boat back in choppy seas.

The busy period had started on October 23, when Sunday lunch was interrupted

for the crew of the inshore lifeboat, which was launched to help two children cut off by the tide at Hele Bay. When they arrived on scene, one youngster had been taken to the shore by a kayaker. The lifeboat crew then recovered the second child.