Crew scrambled during lifeboat annual open day

Visitors aboard Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat during the annual open day at Sovereign Harbour had to be rapidly escorted ashore when the crew pagers summoned the volunteer crew into action.

Three reports of people in trouble came in quick succession.

The first was when a local kayak hire firm reported that one of their craft was overdue. In worsening sea conditions concern was raised for the safety of the two inexperienced people aboard the craft.

The inshore lifeboat was launched to search the shoreline from the hire centre near the Wish Tower west toward the Belle Tout lighthouse.

Almost simultaneously, reports came in of two yachts in trouble further offshore.

Whilst the ILB was searching the shoreline, the all-weather lifeboat was launched to assist a lone yachtsman in a 40ft vessel which had lost engine power and was unable to negotiate the entrance to Sovereign Harbour.

Fortunately a UK Boarder Agency Protection vessel was patrolling the area and was able to assist another single-handed sailor who had been caught out by the rapidly changing sea conditions off Beachy Head.

This vessel had sustained damage to its sails but was still capable of returning to harbour under its own power.

The Border Agency vessel launched its rapid response rib which escorted the yacht back to harbour.

Eastbourne ALB took the first yacht under tow and returned it to the outer harbour where it was passed to the harbour workboat. While all this was going on the ILB was still searching for the missing kayak.

Eventually it was located ashore at the western end of Eastbourne seafront.

Mobile coastguard officers were informed and were despatched to give the occupants of the kayak some much needed safety advice and the ILB returned to station.