Swanage RNLI nighttime rescue of boat drifting in shipping lane

From within sight of the French coastline, Swanage Lifeboat crew had to tow a motorboat back to safety after it suffered catastrophic water pump failure rendering its engine unusable.

The call came in just before 9 pm on Tuesday 18th July 2023 that a 27 foot boat with two people on board was drifting in the shipping lanes 28 miles south of Swanage.

Route of RNLI rescue

The rescue took the lifeboat 28 miles south of Swanage towards the French coastline

“Battery on the casualty vessel went flat”

Swanage’s replacement all weather lifeboat 13-12, while its own boat is being serviced, was launched at 8.53 pm and headed towards the stricken vessel. It took just over an hour to reach the motorboat and locate it using radar.

Swanage Lifeboat Station reported:

“Once on the scene two crew members were put aboard to rig a tow and make sure that the two people on board were ok.

“With the tow rigged and the lights of France visible on the horizon, the lifeboat altered course back to the north and started the tow back to Swanage. The time back to Swanage Bay was showing as a little over four hours, so the volunteers settled in for the slow trip.

“About 40 minutes after starting the tow, the battery on the casualty vessel went flat leaving them without lights or VHF radio. If they hadn’t been already under tow at that point they would have been drifting in the shipping lanes with no lights and no means of communication.”

Swanage replacement lifeboat 13-12

The replacement all weather lifeboat 13-12 back at Swanage Lifeboat Station

Back to Swanage avoiding other shipping

The Shannon lifeboat along with the motorboat in tow, arrived back in Swanage at 2.30 pm, having only to make a few alterations to its course to avoid other shipping in the area.

The motorboat was secured to the RNLI mooring outside Swanage Lifeboat Station and the two crew members, relieved to be safely back, were able to go ashore.

Once the lifeboat had been rehoused, washed down, refuelled and made ready for service, the volunteers left the station just after 3.15 am on Wednesday 19th July 2023.

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