Why a lifeboat has been on St Annes beach for the last 24 hours

An unusual view of the Lytham St Annes lifeboat has been on offer to beachgoers since a mechanical hitch brought an unexpected end to a successful early morning rescue.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 12:24 pm

The RNLI station's relief all-weather lifeboat Reg 13-07 was on its way back to base after towing a stranded yacht to safety when the winch cable on the SLRS combined tractor and carriage which takes it into the boathouse failed.

The lifeboat, on duty because the station's regular craft the Barbara Anne was away for routine maintenance, was unable to be recovered onto the SLRS carriage and instead was towed by it to a safe section of beach opposite Fairhaven Road.

It was was left there at about 3am on Sunday and spent all that day and Monday morning in full view of walkers and beach visitors awaiting a replacement relief SLRS tractor unit so the Shannon relief craft can be re-carriaged and returned to the boathouse.

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The Lytham St Annes relief all-weather lifeboat on the beach following the rescue and tractor winch failure

Lytham St Annes RNLI spokesman David Forshaw stressed that the lifeboat has not been "stranded", but its unusual refuge was carefully chosen to allow it to be kept safe until it could be re-carriaged and that it would be available to be towed back out to see if another call came in the meantime.

The SLRS unit has been at the St Annes boathouse since arriving with the Barbara Anne in February 2018 and is in need of a replacement winch.

The unusual end to the rescue, which saw the volunteer crew free to return to their homes at about 3.45am on Sunday, followed a call from the Coastguard at Holyhead that a 30 foot long yacht with two people on board was in danger four miles out into the Irish Sea.

The yacht’s engine had failed and her foresail was unable to be set in challenging conditions which were forcing the vessel ever closer to being wrecked on the sand banks at the mouth of the estuary.

The relief Reg 13-09 lifeboat being launched by the SLRS tractor unit

Reg 13-07 was launched with station Coxswain Tom Stuart in command, and found the casualty in wind conditions which varied between force 5 and 6, with gusts up to gale force 8.

The confused sea conditions were on top of a four-metre swell and with heavy rain driving at times almost horizontally, made the approach to the yacht difficult.

The exhausted yacht crew were unable to connect a tow line and so the Llfeboat had to be brought alongside to allow lifeboat mechanic Chris Penrice to leap aboard. Chris then connected a tow line and the lifeboat brought the vessel into the safety of the River Ribble.

With no safe mooring available at Lytham in the poor conditions the two boats had to carry on upriver to the safety of Preston Dock. The Lytham St Annes tation’s Inshore Lifeboat, with helm Ben McGarry in command, was launched and the two Lifeboats safely moored the yacht up and after checking the two sailors were recovered sufficiently and happy to be left aboard their vessel, headed out down river to return to their respective boathouses.

Reg 13-07 was being recovered at the 11.5 mile perch in the river when the winch cable on the SLRS failed and instead of being returned to boathouse was towed to its place of safety on the beach.

Richard Freeman, the duty launching authority, said: “It was an excellent service rescuing two people in very challenging weather conditions.

"The chances of them surviving had the yacht hit the sands were slight. The only thing to mar the entire service was the failure of the SLRS cable after the rescue was over.”

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