Lifeboat Rescues Same Yacht Twice in Two Days

RNLI / Vic Booth

Published Jun 17, 2018 4:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

The volunteer crew of a Sheerness Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat launched Friday night after the UK Coastguard reported that a yacht had run aground and was taking on water. 24 hours later, the same lifeboat had to return to the same yacht after its owner refloated her and got caught by the current.  

The first call came at 2315 hours Friday, and the crew responded to the yacht's position on the Isle of Grain, just across from the lifeboat station and just south of the entrance to the River Thames. The lifeboat quickly located the 30-foot craft, which was lying on its port side and mostly submerged, with one male crew member out of the water and clinging to the stern guard rail. The crew assisted the man aboard the lifeboat, and other than being cold and slightly shocked, he was not suffering any injuries.

The yacht had run aground on a falling tide, and with insufficient water for support, it had canted over onto its side. When the tide turned, the vessel was stuck fast on the rough ground and flooded as the water rose. The man on board was left in a dangerous situation with only a small area of the yacht left above water.

The yacht's position was near the busy Thames shipping lane, and in order to prevent the craft from becoming a danger to shipping, a second lifeboat was launched at 2345 hours to help in making it secure. The yacht was secured to the ATON marker beacon associated with the hazard where it had gone aground.

Both lifeboats stood down at 0035 hours and returned to their station, where the man was passed into the care of the Sheppey Coastguard Rescue team.

Second rescue

The following night, at 2356 hours, the UK Coastguard reported that the same craft was in further difficulty, this time with two men on board.

Both lifeboats were launched again but could not locate the craft in its previous location. A call from the Medway VTS reported that the craft had been spotted at 2200 hours going past Garrison Point. Eventually, with the aid of searchlights on board two tugs from the port, the search team found the craft at anchor in an unsafe position north of the outfall buoy off Sheerness.

Further communication from the UK Coastguard requested that the craft and its two occupants be towed to a place of safety. A tow line was attached and the vessel was taken to the landing in Queenborough Harbour, where the Sheppey Coastguard were once again waiting.

It is believed that the owner of the boat had returned to his craft in a small dinghy and had managed to pump the water out and get the vessel refloated. He ran into difficulty again when he was unable to make headway against the strong tide and the strong southwesterly winds. Both lifeboats were released at 0125 hours and were ready for service again at 0150. 

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charitable, non-profit lifesaving force with rescue boats located around the British Isles. Its volunteers and full-time lifeguards have been saving seafarers in UK waters for nearly 200 years.