Lifeboat saves yacht off Chichester Bar

Photo taken from the camcorder on the lifeboat oof the yacht after it was rescued
Photo taken from the camcorder on the lifeboat oof the yacht after it was rescued

AN OUT-OF-CONTROL yacht was saved from being driven into a lee shore at West Wittering.

This week, Hayling Island RNLI lifeboat released information about a dramatic rescue, which took place at Chichester Bar on September 19.

A yacht was approaching Chichester Harbour in strong winds, when three- to four-metre waves snapped its tiller.

It put out a mayday call for help and was saved by the Hayling Island RNLI lifeboat.

A spokesman said the yacht had three people on board and that it was ‘vulnerable’ because of the large waves that were breaking over the shallow banks at Chichester Bar.

The lifeboat was launched with three crew members and Jamie Bray at the helm.

The spokesman said: “The lifeboat to reach the yacht had to drive through large breaking seas to get upwind of the yacht so it could run down with the seas to its position.

“The helm manoeuvred the lifeboat close to the yacht and crew member Phil Terry went on board to get ready for the tow line. This was successfully passed at the first attempt and the yacht was towed south west to clear the shallow waters.

“It was then necessary to turn towards the harbour mouth with wind and waves across both yacht and lifeboat, and the helm showed great skill in doing so. But on passage and with breaking waves, the yacht broached badly several times.”

A lifeboat was also launched from the Isle of Wight at Bembridge, but by the time it arrived the waves had largely subsided.

The yacht was towed to Sparkes Marina, where it was met by the coastguard.

The spokesman added Mr Bray showed ‘great skill’ in the difficult conditions, which lead to the three sailors’ rescue.

Mr Bray said afterwards: “It was tricky and the fact the yacht still had a rudder but no tiller – and therefore was uncontrolled – meant the situation was much more difficult for both the yacht’s skipper and ourselves. We are glad to have been able to bring them home safely.”