Awash with breaking seas

Posted on 07th December 2011 | in Community

At the end of October station mechanic John Sim noticed a small leisure fishing boat struggling in heavy seas over the notorious sandbank at the entrance to Amble harbour. He raised the alarm and the all-weather lifeboat The Four Boys, was launched.

The fishing vessel had been leaving the harbour in heavy swell when the rope and anchor became dislodged from its stowage. The anchor rope went under the boat and into the propeller disabling the engine and steerage and the rest of the anchor rope was streaming astern, consequently the anchor took hold on the sea bed.
Because of the ebbing tide, the current kept the boat pinned down in the worst place possible – amongst the breaking seas. The boat was facing seaward but slewing from side to side and gradually filling with water with a significant risk of capsizing.

When the lifeboat arrived, the only person on board the 20 foot vessel remained at the stern of the boat whilst the lifeboat crew got to work. It was decided to try and place a crewmember aboard with a tow rope; this proved to be an extremely difficult manoeuvre as the boat was still slewing dangerously. 

After several attempts, Paul Allen, crewmember and Harbourmaster was eventually transferred aboard with the rope. Paul was constantly being washed over by breaking seas but managed to secure the tow rope.
Finally the coxswain put weight onto the tow and turned the stricken vessel head up into the harbour. As the boats cleared up river away from the swell, it was found that a rope was being dragged astern. This was the anchor rope with the anchor still attached, and coming alongside at the marina, the anchor took hold preventing the boats from berthing; this was eventually overcome and both vessels were safely berthed.

Commenting on the rescue RNLI Second Coxswain John Wingfield said “To bring this operation to a safe conclusion required seamanship and teamwork of the highest order from all the crew to save the life of the casualty in those conditions.”

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