Three men rescued from fishing boat taking on water near Mortehoe

Ilfracombe RNLI tows fishing boat back to harbour

Ilfracombe RNLI tows fishing boat back to harbour - Credit: RNLI

Ilfracombe RNLI rescued three men from fishing boat taking on water yesterday evening. 

The volunteer crew launched the Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat just after 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday 18 August to assist a small fishing boat taking on water near Mortehoe. 

The Ilfracombe RNLI crew were paged by the Coastguard following a distress call from a small day fishing boat who reported that the transom, the board at the stern of the boat, had broken off and that they were taking on water. 

The volunteer crew were able to launch the station’s Shannon class all-weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation, very quickly as the lifeboat was already out on a mooring in the harbour. 

The lifeboat made its way out of the harbour at full speed in a fresh westerly breeze and a metre to a metre and a half of swell. 


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Arriving on scene just 10 minutes later the crew found the small boat drifting in strong currents in the tidal race near Morte Point. 

The three men aboard, who were not wearing lifejackets, were holding onto the outboard engine which was now lying on the floor of the boat as it had been bolted to the transom, with the floor of the boat full of water. 

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The three men were quickly escorted onto the lifeboat, leaving the fishing boat behind, and were taken back to Ilfracombe harbour, arriving at 7.00 p.m. where the men were placed into the care of the Ilfracombe Coastguard. 

The lifeboat then returned to the fishing boat guided by Morthoe Coastguard Search and Rescue team who had been keeping eyes on the drifting vessel. 

The fishing boat was then taken under tow and an hour later arrived back at Ilfracombe harbour where it was placed on a mooring. The lifeboat was then recovered and made ready for the next service and the crew finally completing their service at 10.00 p.m. 

This was a long day for the volunteers at Ilfracombe RNLI who had started at 6 a.m. to assist with the arrival of a new relief SLARS (Shannon launch and recovery system). 

Volunteer RNLI Coxswain Andrew Bengey said: “We would always recommend that people wear lifejackets if they are heading out to sea and carry a means of calling for help. 

“The three men today had a radio with them and were able to alert the Coastguard when they got into difficulties. 

“This has been a very busy time for the Ilfracombe RNLI volunteer crew with nine shouts since August 3 as more people have been heading out on the water and around the shoreline in the holiday period.” 

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