RNLI Hoylake’s Mersey Class lifeboat Lady fo Hilbre towing catamaran down the R. Mersey to mooring
Author: Bob Warwick – New Brighton & Steve Armitage – Hoylake
At 1728 on Saturday 25th of August, Liverpool Coastguard requested the launch of lifeboats from Hoylake and New Brighton to assist a single handed yachtsman who had got into difficulty in the approaches to the River Mersey.
Hoylake’s all-weather lifeboat Lady of Hilbre, under command of RNLI Coxswain Dave Whiteley and New Brighton’s Atlantic 85 B-837 Charles Dibdin with Dave Hicks at the Helm were launched into rough seas and made best speed toward the position of the casualty given by the Coastguard; the exact position of the casualty was later confirmed by radio direction finding equipment on board the Lady of Hilbre.
Both lifeboats arrived on the scene within minutes of each other, as the weather was deteriorating, it was decided to transfer a crew member from the Lady of Hilbre to the Catamaran via the Charles Dibdin to assist the owner with lowering sails and connecting a tow, once complete a course was set for moorings at New Brighton.
Dave Hicks helmsman in charge of the Charles Dibdin reported ‘ During the rescue at times we experienced 10-15 foot waves with wind speeds I estimate at Force 7 gusting 8 plus heavy squalls and very limited visibility. The vessel was located approximately 8 miles from New Brighton – in the Queens Channel, beyond the wind farm when we reached him.’
Coxswain Dave Whiteley said ‘Towing the vessel was a long slow process for Hoylake Lifeboat due to the wind over tide conditions, but progress was made and with New Brighton Lifeboat in attendance, a mooring was reached, and with some difficulty due to the weather, the mooring was connected.’
The owner returned to safety on the New Brighton Lifeboat and both craft returned to station, to be washed off and refuelled.
Graham Sale Lifeboat Operations Manager at New Brighton said ‘ When the casualty reached the station at 9:30pm he was shaken and exhausted by his experience and very grateful to both RNLI crews who had assisted him. This rescue was a tribute to the dedication of the RNLI volunteers who selflessly put themselves in harms way to assist others and a great example of team work between stations. I can but stress again how its vital to ensure that before setting off you know your limitations and are fully conversant with the weather forecasts and build in appropriate contingency’
The rescued yachtsman said on the following day ‘ I cannot speak highly enough of the gallantry and dedication of the RNLI volunteers without who assistance yesterday I may not have been here today. I found myself in conditions that I had not experienced before and although I had checked the weather forecast I had not made sufficient allowance for potential change and have learned that lesson the hard way’