Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars

Bravery award for rescue of four sailors

by Emma Philo, Isle of Wight Radio/Sail-World on 22 Jun 2011
Helicopter crew Simon O’Mahony and David Peel SW
The crew of a coastguard helicopter who saved four sailors on a sinking yacht near the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England are to receive a bravery award from His Royal Highness Prince Philip. The story of their difficulties in effecting the rescue makes gripping reading.

Winch operator Dave Peel and winchman Simon O'Mahony are to be awarded the Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy at St James's Palace.

According to the award citiation, the men took on a daring rescue in very difficult conditions:

'On Sunday April 14th 2010 the Coastguard Helicopter 'Rescue 104' from Lee on Solent, with winchman Simon O'Mahony and winch operator David Peel on board, was scrambled to a report of a vessel that was taking on water and had put out a Mayday in the vicinity of the Shingles Bank near the Isle of Wight. The Shingles Bank is an area of shifting sand and shingle located just before the narrow entrance to the Western Solent and in an area of particularly fast flowing tides. It is a notorious area and the hazards can be compounded by heavy seas and strong south westerly winds.

'Once on scene the helicopter found the 27ft yacht 'Blu Argent' aground and in a very dangerous position. Part of its keel was embedded in the bank; it was beam on and was heeled over, being heavily pounded by the wind, waves and tide. There was a great deal of white water and the crew on deck seemed dwarfed by the breaking waves and swell.

'The Yarmouth Lifeboat was arriving on scene and was hurriedly readying its small inflatable 15hp 'Y' boat as it could not close the stricken yacht due to its draft.

'As the helicopter came to the hover 'Blu Argent' took a particularly large wave and started heeling over further, taking on a lot more water. The strong wind, breaking waves on the bank, tide and relatively shallow water made it evident that the yacht was in real trouble. The four sailors on board were all clinging to various parts of the vessel. The yacht still had some sail up and there were rigging lines and other equipment lurching about in a random manner

'The yacht then took another large wave, heeled right over to about 70 degrees and started dragging over the bank. Debris from the yacht started appearing and its hull was becoming substantially submerged. The yacht crew were obviously starting to struggle to continue holding on and they were certainly in danger of being washed off at anytime. There was then potential for them to be hit by parts from their own boat or tangled up in the rigging lines.

'It was evident that the situation was going from bad to worse so a decision was made to attempt a rescue. Simon O'Mahony, could clearly see the precarious nature of the situation he would face.

'Simon was winched out and slowly manoeuvred towards one of the crew. The situation, with the yacht moving about in an uncontrolled way, dragging broadside on the bank, and being pounded by the wind and waves, presented a very challenging task for the winch operator, Dave Peel.

'Due to the yacht's further movement, things were about to get even worse when Simon then got caught up in the sheets of the yacht, he was unable to reach the intended crew and could not make any headway in the conditions. This situation not only endangered Simon but the aircraft as well. It was at this point that Dave considered cutting the cable; fortunately he held his nerve and managed, using the winch, to thread Simon clear and back out of danger.

'The 'Y' boat then appeared and came close enough to the yacht to assist one of the sailors but was unable to recover him fully into the dinghy. It then backed away, the sailor hanging onto the dinghy's side with an RNLI crewmember leaning over the side helping him to hold on.

'The aircraft then moved back in with Simon, this time making contact with the female casualty, who was secured and recovered to the aircraft with Simon.

'By that time the 'Y' boat was making its way back to the yacht a second time and managed to secure another crewman. They then backed away again, with the survivor hanging on in the same manner as previously and returned to the Yarmouth Lifeboat in order to lift him out of the water. They had done a commendable job.

'It was decided the helicopter could not wait for the return of the Y boat so Simon was again lowered and the fourth crew, the skipper, was reached. Again in very difficult circumstances, the crewman was secured and they were both winched clear and recovered to the aircraft.

'The helicopter landed at the Isle of Wight hospital landing site and handed its two casualties over to the ambulance. They were shocked, cold and bewildered as to how it all went very wrong so quickly.

'They thanked Simon and Dave, and one of them said it was the most frightening experience of her life: Simon replied 'It was for me as well!'

'The winch operator's role in this rescue should not be underestimated. The pilot being unable to see the yacht, his only reference being the disturbed water over a moving tide and with the yacht trapped and dragging on the bank, presented a very challenging situation. It was thus a credit to Dave's calm instructions, skill and anticipation that this rescue was able to be accomplished.

'Winch operator Dave Peel and winchman Simon O'Mahony together displayed great professionalism and courage which resulted in these lives being saved. They are richly deserving of the award of The Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy for 2011.'

You can listen to the Isle of Wight Radio by http://www.iwradio.co.uk/news/clicking_here.
Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearNaiad/Oracle SupplierMariners Museum 660x82

Related Articles

See how your smart phone can help save your life
OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is available on Android as well as through App Store. OLAS, the man overboard location alert app from Exposure Lights is now available on Android as well as through the App Store.
Posted on 25 May
High water on the great lakes – Boom or bust for boaters?
Boaters can find that deeper water under the keel may open a range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation With Great Lakes water levels on the rise and expected to continue to increase into summer, recreational boaters could find that deeper water under the keel may open a whole new range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation.
Posted on 19 May
BoatUS 2017 top 10 list of boat names and their meanings
BoatUS, issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The nation’s largest recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The names come from tallying up requests for boat names to the BoatUS Graphics service, and each reveal much about the personality of the vessel’s owner.
Posted on 18 May
Brian McGinnis takes Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship
Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. The race was a qualifier for the 2018 Sunfish Worlds. Winds for the weekend tended toward 20 knots or more for Saturday where only four of the nine boats entered finished the five races run on Saturday.
Posted on 9 May
North Technology buys Hall Spars from receivership
North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. The Hall Spars US parent company announced in early 2017 that it would be closing the doors due to well publicized financial challenges. The acquisition covers Auckland and Brekens and Hall Spars will re-establish in Rhode Island
Posted on 9 May
Coast Guard finds Aids-to-Navigation shot and sunk near Block Island
Crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in water with bullet holes, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes, Monday, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy number 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.
Posted on 28 Apr
A Few Rays - When you think of sunscreen as a filter....
If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? Where the skin is exposed and a sunscreen is working for you, it is filtering UV rays. Some of those rays always get through. The percentage of the high energy UVB rays (said to cause sunburn) that get through to cells in the skin can be determined by the claimed SPF of the product you are using.
Posted on 25 Apr
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018 to celebrate superyacht regatta’s tenth anniversary Boat International Media, the global authority on superyachts and the luxury lifestyle that goes with them, has today announced that it will be partnering with the NZ Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, to be held in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands in January 2018.
Posted on 22 Apr
A Few Rays - What is Broad Spectrum Protection?
What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. UVA and UVB sun-rays are however the biggest contributors to skin damage from sun.
Posted on 19 Apr
Coast Guard urges boating safety common sense
Coast Guard reminds mariners that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold The Coast Guard is reminding mariners Friday that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold. With the rise in air temperature, the number of boaters, paddle craft users, and water enthusiasts taking to water activities also rises.
Posted on 15 Apr