SEVEN people and their pet dog had to be rescued from a sinking boat by lifeboat crews after overloading the small angling vessel and setting off without life jackets.
The group and their dog started to sink around 100 yards off the beach at Norman’s Bay on Sunday afternoon (August 29).
Lifeboat crews and the coastguard helicopter launched to help the group as their boat had suffered engine failure and was taking on water. The seven people did not have a radio but managed to make a frantic call for help on a mobile phone.
Several other concerned members of the public on the beach at Norman’s Bay also made 999 calls when they suspected the small overloaded boat was in trouble.
Lifeboat coxswain Mark Sawyer said, “It was a classic case of everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and they were totally unprepared.
“There were very strong winds that day and they had overloaded the boat. I would have said a safe number for that boat would have been about four people.”
Mr Sawyer said they had no safety equipment at all and added, “They were lucky that one of their mobiles was working and that there were several concerned people on the beach.”
The people had set off from a beach at Norman’s Bay and were only two beaches along from their original starting place, near the caravan park, when they had to be rescued.
Both Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats were launched, the inshore lifeboat from its boathouse at Fishermans Green and the all-weather lifeboat from the RNLI regatta arena where it was open for public viewing.
The volunteer inshore lifeboat crew transferred the people to the lifeboat and took them ashore. The crews then attempted to tow the stricken fishing boat into shallow water but the heavy swell overcame the boat and it sank a few metres from the beach.
The crew took a line ashore and the vessel was hauled up the beach and clear of the surf. Items on the boat, such as deck chairs and a petrol tank, were also washed ashore and recovered.
Mr Sawyer said the incident sent a strong message about the importance of safety at sea.