Watch: harrowing footage of yacht crew rescue as Storm Evert causes chaos

Falmouth Coastguard Operations Centre reported a total of 22 incidents throughout the night as Storm Evert battered the South West last Thursday (29Jul21).

Volunteers from St Mary’s and Sennen Cove lifeboats worked together with the HM Coastguard helicopter and local teams to respond to a stream of incidents, battling storm force winds and rain in order to reach the vessels in need.

“This was one of those moments when however prepared you are or whatever you’ve done to keep yourself safe and sheltered, even in an anchorage, it is sometimes no match for the merciless sea,” says HM Coastguard.

(This footage has no sound.)

The coastguard helicopter from Newquay was deployed to rescue five people in difficulty.

According to a coastguard spokesperson “At 0030 today (30Jul21), St Mary’s Coastguard Rescue Team, St Mary’s RNLI lifeboat and the coastguard helicopter from Newquay were sent to assist a vessel with five people onboard which had reported a broken anchor at St Mary’s Harbour.

“All people were recovered to safety by the helicopter.”

“The strength of the wind was definitely the biggest challenge during this rescue as the gusts reaches 65 knot at times, creating significant sea spray, so visibility was poor,” says captain Debs Bhattacharya, who was one of the HM Coastguard pilots involved in the series of rescues.

“It was so strong that yachts anchored in the sound were being blown around substantially as the anchors could not hold against the high gusts, so it definitely added additional challenges.”

Sennen Cove all-weather lifeboat was tasked at around 2310 (29Jul21) to assist St Mary’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat due to the volume of yachts getting into difficulty around the islands of the Isles of Scilly in the storm force conditions.

The volunteer crews battled horrendous conditions, described as some of the worst experienced in the Tamar class lifeboat, with the passage to St Mary’s taking just over three hours.

“The conditions were horrendous, at one point we had over 50knots of wind with squally showers,” says coxswain of St Mary’s RNLI lifeboat Pete Hicks.

“We were afloat from about 11pm until around 3am this morning, it was a very busy night for everyone involved. I went aboard Sennen Cove RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat to assist the crew with local knowledge of the area, and with a huge team effort we were able to successfully rescue everybody in difficulty.”

Wind speeds hit 65mph on the Isles of Scilly.

Sennen Cove RNLI was stood down at around 0430 (30Jul21) and the crew tied up alongside the harbour in St Mary’s for some rest.

At 0533 the crew was again tasked by Falmouth Coastguard to assist a yacht in danger of parting its mooring in St Mary`s Harbour.

At 0614 it was tasked to assist a yacht in Porthcressa with an anchor issue preventing it moving to a safer location.

At 0715 it was tasked to Tresco Channel to assist a yacht with a fouled propellor, and other yachts in difficulties.

When leaving the islands at 0825, the crew was again tasked to escort a yacht to a different anchorage.

In Falmouth, RNLI volunteers launched the inshore lifeboat twice in the early hours to assist vessels which had dragged their anchors.

Elsewhere at Falmouth RNLI, volunteers launched the Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Robina Nixon Chard to assist vessels which had dragged their anchors.

The first launch was at 2020 when a yacht was reported to have dragged its anchor and hit another vessel in the River Fal. The inshore lifeboat volunteers stood by while the vessel’s crew reset its anchor and repositioned the vessel. The pagers sounded again at 2300 to two vessels caught in anchorage near the lifeboat station. The lifeboat crews lifted and reset the anchors and helped to reposition the vessels.

“While most of us were tucked up warm and dry in our homes, our dedicated crews spent hours at sea in the dark helping people in difficulty, contending with horrendous conditions brought on by Storm Evert,” says Guy Botterill, RNLI area lifesaving manager. “Their courage, selflessness and dedication is admirable.

“While the worst of the weather has passed through, we would urge vessel owners to make sure their anchor and mooring lines are secure and also to check local weather and wind reports prior to planning any passages.”

One response to “Watch: harrowing footage of yacht crew rescue as Storm Evert causes chaos”

  1. Stefan Bartkowiak says:

    I cannot believe that anyone with any sense would remain on an anchorage with the amount of warning the forecasters gave about this storm
    It’s all very well stupidly risking their own selves but unnecessarily putting RNLI crews at risk is a disgrace