Photo: Crew volunteer Henry Mock assisting casualties on board a stricken yacht in the Exe estuary.
Inshore lifeboat George Bearman was tasked at 12.35pm on 28 February following reports of two yachts aground in the Exe estuary.
Crew volunteers were tasked to gather information and check the welfare of the occupants.
At 12:42pm George Bearman reached the first casualty vessel, a 27 foot lifting keel sail boat with two people on board, just off Cockwood. Once on scene, it was apparent that the vessel had beached too hard in the sand bank to attempt a tow, so crew volunteers advised the casualties they would return after checking on the second stricken vessel.
A 39 foot deep-keeled ketch was soon located upriver, also high and dry. The two experienced local sailors had already streamed anchors to prevent their yacht blowing further onto a mud bank in the force two/three winds. Advice was given and it was estimated the casualties should be able to float between 7pm and 7.30pm.
On returning to the first casualty vessel, volunteers streamed one anchor to hold the boat when it refloated. A commercial operator was also tasked to assist the owner recover their yacht that had grounded due to mechanical failure, estimating the flood tide would lift the vessel at 6.15pm. The local couple were taken ashore to Exmouth by the crew volunteers to warm up.
Helmsman David Preece commented:
‘All four of the casualties had lifejackets and were fully equipped for their journeys, but bad luck and propulsion difficulties halted their sailing for several hours.’