Margate RNLI were called out to a yacht yesterday (May 15) after it encountered difficulties in the Thames Estuary and sought shelter by tying up to an offshore wind turbine.
The alarm was raised around 4pm when a support vessel working at the London Array offshore windfarm came across a small single-handed yacht secured to one of the wind turbines. Language problems made communications difficult but it was established the yacht had no propulsion and a damaged rudder.
The support vessel contacted UK Coastguard who tasked Margate’s all-weather RNLI lifeboat to assist but while on passage to the casualty position the yacht suffered further damage including the loss of its single mast.
At one stage the man aboard the yacht’s entered the water. Thanks to the quick action of the windfarm support vessel was quickly recovered onto their own craft. With concern of the effects of cold water immersion the coastguard instructed the support vessel to return to Ramsgate and seek medical assistance for the yacht’s occupant.
Once the lifeboat arrived on scene two lifeboat crew members were put on board the craft and the mast secured in preparation for a tow including cutting the vessel free from the wind turbine. A tow line was secured and with no steering on the yacht, a slow and uncomfortable passage followed and the yacht was subsequently secured safely in Ramsgate harbour where it was met by Margate’s Coastguard Rescue Team and Border Force officials.
Ian Lowe, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate Lifeboat said: “This was a long and tedious job for the volunteer lifeboat crew who assessed the yacht not to be adequately equipped for a sea passage. Our thanks go to the professionalism of the windfarm support vessel who quickly recovered the casualty from the water and transported him to medical care.
“We would recommend that any vessel putting to sea be properly equipped with lifesaving equipment ensuring it is fit for the intended passage including the competence of the crew. When undertaking a passage of any length consideration should be given to registering it using RYA SafetrX.”
The Home Office has been approached for comment.