Three callouts for Swanage RNLI in 24 hours as boats battle spring tides

A busy start to the weekend for the Swanage Lifeboat crew when they were called out first on Friday night to a yacht in difficulty at St Albans Head and then on Saturday to a capsized dinghy and finally to another yacht, this time with engine failure.

A late night urgent ‘Pan Pan’ VHF radio call from the yacht in trouble at St Albans Head saw the Swanage all-weather lifeboat launch just after 11 pm on Friday 18th September 2020. The yacht was making heavy going in the tidal race and had taken on some water.

Swanage Lifeboat launching at night
Swanage Lifeboat Station

Their main radio had failed

Communications with the yacht were poor as their main radio had failed, but the lifeboat’s direction-finding equipment was used to narrow down its position. Fortunately, the yacht had managed to make it to the shelter of Chapman’s Pool and had anchored safely.

Swanage Lifeboat Station reported:

“The lifeboat came alongside to discuss the next steps with the skipper – who was happy with the situation and for their crew to remain on board for the night to progress their passage in the morning.”

The volunteer lifeboat crew then returned to Swanage and by 12.40 am the lifeboat was back at base, washed down, re-fuelled and ready for service.

The crew’s pagers went off at lunchtime on Saturday

It wasn’t long before the all-weather lifeboat was required again, as the crew’s pagers went off at lunchtime on Saturday 19th September 2020. This time, both boats were launched to rescue three people who were in the sea, after their dinghy capsized just south of Kimmeridge.

While making their way at full speed towards Kimmeridge, news came over the radio that one of the Lulworth Range safety boats had recovered the three crew members from the water, who were cold, a bit shaken but otherwise fine.

Rescue by Swanage Lifeboat crew in Kimmeridge
Swanage Lifeboat Station
Dingy rescued by Swanage Lifeboat and Kimmeridge Coastguard
Kimmeridge Coastguard

Took the casualties aboard

The all-weather lifeboat met up with the range safety boat and took the casualties aboard so that they could be warmed up and checked over. Meanwhile, the inshore lifeboat rescued the dinghy.

The crew members and the boat were then all brought back to the shore, to be met by their families and the Kimmeridge Coastguard.

Kimmeridge Coastguard said:

“Back on dry land and in the hands of the team, we continued checking the wellbeing of the casualties.

“Having assisted in the removal of the dinghy from the water, thanks to Nick, the local fisherman and a surfer that helped us, the team returned to the station.

“A huge thanks also to the surfer that initially raised the alarm to the army range wardens present at Kimmeridge and the range safety boat that all assisted, therefore preventing a far more serious situation.”

With the situation resolved, both lifeboats returned to Swanage Lifeboat Station, but what the volunteers didn’t realise was that they’d be back at the boathouse again just a few hours later.

Just before 5.00 pm, reports came in of a yacht with a failed engine

A few hours after the previous incident, just before 5.00 pm, reports came in of a yacht with a failed engine drifting rapidly west on a strong ebb tide.

So the all-weather lifeboat launched again and headed towards the yacht’s original reported position south of Anvil Point. Then an updated position gave them off Winspit and the yacht was finally located south of St Albans Head – testament to the spring tide ebbing fast.

The four crew members on board were happy to be towed back and slow progress was made towards Poole Harbour.

Yacht towed back to Poole by lifeboat
Swanage Lifeboat Station

A chance meeting with the Poole Lifeboat crew

Swanage Lifeboat Station reported that a chance meeting meant that the crew could head home earlier than expected:

“Coincidentally, Poole Lifeboat was concluding dealing with a casualty vessel in the East Looe channel and they were happy to take over the tow, close to Brownsea Island, and continue to the yacht’s destination.”

The volunteer Swanage Lifeboat crew then returned to the station and finished sorting out the lifeboat just before 8.00 pm.

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