LIFEBOAT crews took part in a dramatic rescue on Tuesday afternoon when a lone yachtsman became separated from his boat while trying to free a rope which was wrapped around the propeller.
The drama began when the yachtsman in his 32ft boat, just 800 metres offshore from Eastbourne RNLI’s station, realised that a rope had become wrapped around the boat’s propeller whilst motor-sailing from Sovereign Harbour.
His engine failed and he deployed his anchor to avoid being carried by the tide and brisk winds.
In an attempt to free the rope he entered the water but failed and then had to launch his inflatable dinghy to try and free himself.
His troubles were compounded because his dinghy, with him aboard and without engine or oars, was swept away.
Volunteer RNLI helmsman Andy Chatton was working in his fish shop close by and had spotted the yachtsman’s predicament.
Andy informed Dover Coastguard and then prepared to launch the inshore lifeboat.
The volunteer crew were paged soon after and within seven minutes were on scene alongside the casualty.
The yachtsman was transferred to the safety of the lifeboat and his dinghy secured.
Unable to free the propeller, senior helmsman Dave Needham requested the assistance of Eastbourne RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat.
A crew member was put aboard the yacht and it was towed to Sovereign Harbour.
Bob Jeffery from Eastbourne RNLI said the yachtsman had a ‘lucky escape’ and added, “The yacht was returned to the safety of Sovereign Harbour where the very cold, wet and grateful skipper made his way to the hot showers.”