The Newhaven Lifeboat team is urging people going out to sea to have the necessary safety equipment after rescuing four people whose vessel had suffered mechanical problems.
Coxswain Paul Legendre said there could have been a fatality after four people were found aboard the rigid inflatable boat with only three life jackets and little safety equipment.
Newhaven’s Severn Class lifeboat ‘RNLB David and Elizabeth Acland’ was initially launched on Saturday August 17 to search for a capsized sailing dinghy. A search was carried out by Newhaven Coastguards from the cliff tops and the lifeboat then looked under the cliffs from but nothing was found.
Whilst searching for the dinghy Solent Coastguard received an emergency call from a rigid inflatable boat in the Cuckmere/Birling Gap area in difficulties.
The vessel was struggling to make any progress in the sea and four people onboard were transferred aboard the lifeboat and the vessel was then towed. The team was fine apart from one person suffering from sea sickness, however, the vessel only had three lifejackets for four people, no flares, no VHF radio and an anchor which was too small for the vessel.
Safety advice was given to the group by coastguards.
Mr Legendre said, “There was real potential for loss of life in this incident.
“In many places mobile phones do not work under the cliffs. We would strongly advise anyone taking to the water to have lifejackets, VHF radio, plus flares and always check the weather forecast beforehand.”