Fisherman escapes blazing boat horror

Boat on fire off Beachy Head
Boat on fire off Beachy Head

A fishing trip ended in disaster for an angler on Tuesday morning after his boat caught fire off the coast of Eastbourne.

The 62-year-old man had anchored his boat Know Wanda close to the Beachy Head Lighthouse when he noticed a fire in the 27 foot vessel’s cabin.

He was unable to get into the cabin to radio for help so launched red SOS flares into the sky at 10.30am, which were spotted by the Newhaven pilot boat Pelorus which was on a training exercise at Cuckmere Haven.

As coastguards and lifeboat crews rushed to the scene, the man was plucked to safety by the crew on the pilot boat.

The boat’s owner was transferred to the all weather lifeboat Diamond Jubilee to be seen by the lifeboat’s paramedic.

The lifeboat also towed the smouldering boat from Beachy Head along the coast to shallow waters in front of the inshore lifeboat station on the fishing beaches near Treasure Island where it was met by firefighters.

Eastbourne lifeboat coxswain Mark Sawyer said, “The vessel was considered to be a hazard to navigation in its current position so a towline was rigged and the cruiser taken to the beach east of Eastbourne pier where it was met by units from Eastbourne Fire and Rescue service.”

Firemen then spent more than an hour dousing the fire down and making sure a gas canister on board the vessel was safe.

Mark added, “The fire was extinguished but unfortunately the vessel was beyond repair and abandoned on the beach.

“The owner of the vessel was taken to Eastbourne DGH by ambulance from the lifeboat station beach for a precautionary examination for possible smoke inhalation.”

He was later released.

Crowds gathered at the cliff top, along the seafront and on the fishing beaches to watch the joint operation between coastguards, lifeboat volunteers and firefighters.