RNLI Ramsey, Douglas and Barrow lifeboats called out to assist yacht in difficulty

Ramsey, Douglas and Barrow RNLI lifeboats in dramatic multi-agency rescue

© Theresa Shammon LPO RNLI Ramsey

Ramsey RNLI lifeboat, the Ann & James Ritchie, was launched at 09:17 on Friday, 8 July, to search for a yacht that was lost in the eastern Irish Sea somewhere between the Isle of Man and Fleetwood. Within minutes Douglas RNLI lifeboat, the Sir William Hillary, was also launched.

The small yacht with three people on board was had set off from Fleetwood at 14:00 on Thursday, 7 July with the intention of sailing to the Isle of Man. At 06:00 the next day, they were within 10 miles of the Island but decided to turn around because of deteriorating weather conditions and seasickness. Due to a combination of the prevailing weather conditions, severe seasickness and exhaustion the crew then become disorientated and unable to establish their position. They sent out a Mayday distress call using their VHF radio and this was picked up by Belfast Coastguard. The sea conditions at the time were rough and the wind was westerly, force 5-6.

The Isle of Man’s Steam Packet vessel Ben My Chree, en route from Douglas to Heysham, also picked up the Mayday call, joined the search and relayed messages for the lifeboats. At the same time Castletown Coastguard mobile unit rigged their radio direction finding equipment on Douglas Head and determined a radio bearing for the casualty. A short time later the Ben My Chree established radio contact with the stricken yacht and proceeded to the casualty position, due west of the Duddon Estuary, and close to the wind farm. The Ben My Chree took the casualty alongside to give it some protection from the weather. Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 936 from Caernarfon was also scrambled in case an airlift was required. Barrow RNLI lifeboat, the Edward & Barbara Prigmore, was launched at 10:30.

Ramsey RNLI lifeboat, with Coxswain Mark Kenyon at the helm, arrived on scene at approximately 11:00. Two of Ramsey’s volunteer crew, one a doctor, were transferred to the yacht to assess the condition of the three people on board and to prepare a tow. Once it was ascertained that there was no requirement for an airlift the helicopter was stood down. With Douglas lifeboat standing by, Ramsey lifeboat established a tow and the casualty vessel was towed clear of the Ben My Chree, which then proceeded on its journey.

The tow was maintained and held by Ramsey RNLI lifeboat until Barrow RNLI lifeboat arrived on scene at around 11:20. Two of Barrow’s volunteer crew were transferred to the casualty vessel and the two Ramsey personnel returned to their lifeboat. Barrow lifeboat safely took over the tow and proceeded towards Barrow. Ramsey and Douglas lifeboats were released to return to their respective Stations.