Dramatic rescue to save skipper from stricken yacht

THERE was a dramatic rescue last night (March 16) after a yacht ran aground in Eastbourne in atrocious weather conditions.

THE drama started just after 10am on Friday morning when the Eastbourne all-weather lifeboat was launched at the request of Dover Coastguard when it was apparent that a lone yachtsman was in difficulties off the coast Bexhill.

Dover Coastguard were monitoring erratic radio communications from the 36ft vessel which had drifted dangerously close inshore and requested the volunteer RNLI crew to investigate.

With the lifeboat alongside, the yacht’s skipper initially refused to make contact with the lifeboat crew.

Whilst the lifeboat stood by, negotiations took place between coastguard officers and the skipper which eventually resulted in the lifeboat being stood down, the skipper abjectly refusing all offers of assistance.

Coastguard officers monitored the slow progress of the yacht against wind and tide throughout the day and were becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of the vessel and its occupant.

Just after 8pm, in atrocious weather conditions with driving rain and gale force winds, a ‘Mayday’ distress call was received by Dover Coastguard from the yacht which had run aground on the beach below South Cliff Tower, Eastbourne.

Eastbourne all-weather lifeboat was scrambled and under way within a few minutes of the request to launch.

Guided to the location by red distress flares fired from the yacht, the lifeboat was soon on scene.

Unable to approach the yacht due to the low tide and breaking surf, lifeboat Coxswain Mark Sawyer requested the assistance of the coastguard rescue helicopter to potentially pluck the yachtsman from his doomed vessel should the opportunity arise.

The tide then begun to flood which drove the vessel further up the beach where eventually it was secured by coastguard officers.

The yachtsman was then assisted through the surf and taken into the care of the police and ambulance service.