Selsey Lifeboat Station - Launches

19th August 2019

Selsey RNLI All-Weather Lifeboat Launched to Investigate Distress Beacon Alert

On Monday 19th August at 2.57 p.m. the UK Coastguard requested the launch of the Selsey all-weather Lifeboat (ALB) to investigate an emergency position indicating beacon (EPIRB) activation 11 miles south of the Lifeboat station.

The ALB launched at 3.08 p.m. and made best speed to the position in challenging conditions. Whilst on route at 3.33 p.m. a target was spotted on radar and as the Lifeboat got closer this was identified as a catamaran which appeared to be struggling with the main sail wrapped around the mast. The vessel could not be contacted on VHF radio so the Lifeboat was brought alongside the vessel to communicate with the lone sailor using the Lifeboat loud hailer.

After a short time it was confirmed that the EPIRB had been activated by the sailor. The Coastguard rescue helicopter R175 had just arrived on scene at the original position so they were diverted to the position of the Lifeboat. A handheld radio was first passed to the casualty vessel so that communications were established. The lone sailor had been at sea since 4.00 a.m. and was exhausted and so the decision was made to transfer crewman Pip Skeet to assist him. Rescue 175 remained on scene as top cover. The weather on scene was wind south/south westerly force 7-8 sea state rough in sunshine.

After a few attempts the crewman was transferred to the catamaran and the tow line was passed. When the tow had been established between the Lifeboat and casualty a course was set for Littlehampton Harbour. The conditions were hampering the towing with the bridle fouling the port side hull of the catamaran and there were no strong points on the stern to attach a drogue. The seas were breaking over the stern of the casualty vessel and the port hull was constantly being pulled under the surface.

With a danger to both persons on the catamaran the decision was made to drop the tow and recover the Lifeboat crewman and the casualty to the Lifeboat. The tow line was recovered and stowed. The ALB was then taken back alongside the casualty vessel and after several attempts both persons were safely on board the Lifeboat with some personal belongings. This decision wasn't easy as the man had indicated that this was his home.

At 4.24 p.m. the Lifeboat and Rescue 175 were released by the Coastguard. The Lifeboat headed back to Selsey arriving at 5.00 p.m. The casualty was found lodgings for the night by the Lifeboat crew.

CREW: Rob Archibald (Coxswain), Phil Pitham (Mechanic), Max Gilligan, Max Wiseman, Pip Skeet and Terry Healey.