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No radio, no EPIRB, coastguard rescues worrying crew

by Joanne Rawlings/Sail-World Cruising on 22 Oct 2013
RAF Valley helicopter had to be involved in the rescue SW
What does it take? Concerned coastguard officers have carried out yet another difficult rescue of a boat whose crew didn't know where they were...

Owing to the persistence and astuteness of the RNLI, the vessel that first reported suffering steering problems off the south west of Scotland one afternoon this week was found and towed to safety before darkness and deteriorating conditions put it into a much more dangerous situation. Four rescue teams and a helicopter had to be called into service

Liverpool Coastguard received a 999 call from one of the two people on board the vessel just after 1pm, reporting they were having steerage and mechanical problems. They said they were was just south of Burrow Head, having set off from Oban and heading to Liverpool.

The Ramsey RNLI all-weather lifeboat was sent to the scene, but they could not track down the vessel. Liverpool Coastguard managed to get hold of those on board again and soon established they were in a different position near the Cumbrian coast. The Workington RNLI all-weather lifeboat joined the search, but again on arrival at this new position there was no sign of the vessel.

Further contact was made with the two on board the boat, who were told to set off their distress flares. These weren’t spotted by those on scene. In light of the approaching darkness and misty conditions, the Whitehaven and Maryport Coastguard Rescue Teams were sent to carry out harbour and coastal searches. The search and rescue helicopter from RAF Valley was also sent to join in the search and a mayday relay broadcast was made asking for any other boats to report sightings.

The helicopter from RAF Valley finally located the vessel just before 6pm off Harrington, Cumbria. The boat was then towed into Workington harbour and met by the Maryport Coastguard Rescue Team.

Lucy Hicks, Watch Manager at Liverpool Coastguard, said:

'This was a difficult rescue as we did not have the exact location of this vessel. They didn’t have a VHF radio on board or an emergency beacon which could have sent a more accurate position of where they were.

'An extensive search continued for a number of hours, and with darkness fast approaching along with deteriorating weather conditions, we needed to find this boat. Luckily, they were spotted by the search and rescue helicopter and then taken to safety.

'We always recommend that boats are well equipped with all the necessary communications and navigation equipment on board. It's also useful to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with you, which can send an accurate position of where you are to the Coastguard.'

According to Sail-World staff, that's putting it mildly!
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