Rescue from sinking yacht in Lyme Bay

A 62 year old man was rescued on Friday evening as his yacht broke up on rocks in Lyme Bay.

At 7pm on Friday, Portland Coastguard received a broken Mayday call from the 20ft yacht Harnser, reporting he was on the rocks somewhere between Lyme Regis and West Bay, in Lyme Bay. Portland Coastguard was only able to ascertain it was a 20ft vessel, with one person on board, on rocks and the crewman was about to abandon ship, before contact was lost.

Portland Coastguard immediately scrambled Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 106, Lyme Regis and West Bay Coastguard Rescue Teams, and Lyme Regis RNLI Inshore Lifeboat to try and locate the casualty. Visibility in the area was badly affected by patchy fog.

First on scene was Rescue 106 at 7.07pm but, due to the helicopters downwash and the yachts sails still being set, elected to await the arrival of Lyme Regis Inshore Lifeboat moments later.

The skipper, a 62 year old male from Norwich, was taken off the yacht by crewmen from the Inshore Lifeboat and then safely winched to the waiting helicopter, airlifted to the Helicopter base at Portland and met by Portland Bill Coastguards and South Western Ambulance. Apart from being cold and shaken he was found to be well.

Coastguards from Lyme Regis and West Bay were able to provide assistance and communications cover for the Lyme Regis Inshore Lifeboat as they attempted to re-float the Harnser, intending to tow it to Lyme Regis Harbour. Unfortunately the yacht was too badly damaged and sank approximately 50 metres offshore.

Allan Norman, Watch Manager at Portland Coastguard said,
Fortunately the skipper not only had a VHF radio on board, but was wearing a life jacket. In the bad visibility he had mistaken his position, thinking he was three miles further east and subsequently hit the rocks at Golden Cap. If he had not called on VHF, we may not have known of his predicament until the morning, possibly with dire consequences.

The swift response of the Search And Rescue units, although we were not certain of his position, enabled the skipper to be recovered rapidly. If we had not been able to recover him so quickly, the fact that he was wearing a life jacket would almost certainly have saved his life.

Date Added - 13-Jun-2009

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