Both Exmouth lifeboats launched on bank holiday Monday, 31 August at 2.15pm to search for a broken down speedboat in Lyme Bay with three men on board.
The casualties from Bristol called HM Coastguard Maritime Operations Centre using a mobile phone after they found themselves in difficulty following mechanical failure to their leisure boat. The location of the 18’ Bayrider was unclear and a split search using both Shannon class lifeboat R and J Welburn and D class inshore lifeboat George Bearman was conducted.
Launching within five minutes, George Bearman headed eastwards and R and J Welburn, with the Shannon class’ capabilities of speed and manoeuvrability, searched a wider area south west of Exmouth.
Not familiar with the local geography, the casualties had kept mobile phone contact with the Coastguard and described local visible landmarks. The men spotted the height of the Shannon class lifeboat in the calm flat sea and at 2.43pm, the crew volunteers were on scene, three and a quarter miles south of the lifeboat station.
The crew volunteers aboard R and J Welburn towed the Bayrider to the safe water mark and subsequently handed the tow over to the inshore lifeboat volunteers who assisted the three men to safety at Shelly Beach. Safety advice was given by the George Bearman crew volunteers.
Peter Williams, Coastal Safety Officer for Exmouth RNLI commented:
‘We launched following calls for help without a definitive search position, so our volunteers conducted a split search. Fortunately the casualties had mobile phone coverage and were able to call for help. Boat owners can help us find them by carrying the vital equipment, such as VHF radio, a GPS device and ideally flares. These items will speed up the rescue operation. If the weather conditions had changed for the worse, it could have been a different result all together.’