Two people towed to safety on stranded yacht were minutes away from disaster in Blackpool

A stranded yacht and its crew were rescued after becoming trapped in treacherous conditions off the Lancashire coast.

By Sean Gleaves
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 4:10 pm

The 33ft vessel got into difficulty following a "sudden and violent squall" in the Irish Sea shortly after 11.40am on Friday (October 29), the RNLI said.

The yacht was moving dangerously close to the surf line after being located near the South Shore outfall pipe by the all-weather Lifeboat (ALB).

One crew member suffered a bruised arm after being thrown about by the violent motion of the swell and was unable to leave the cabin.

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Crew Al Sleet throws a heaving line to colleague Andy Hall on the yacht (Credit: Lytham St Annes RNLI / Ben McGarry)

The second crew member was steering and tethered in the cockpit, meaning they were also unable to rig a tow-line.

Coxswain Andrew McHaffie said he realised the urgent need to get the vessel away from the rapidly approaching surf on the shore, and placed the starboard shoulder of the lifeboat alongside the port side of the yacht.

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He managed to get close enough for fellow crew member Andy Hall to leap between the two vessels and connect a tow-line from the lifeboat.

Lytham St Annes Lifeboat approaches the yacht (Credit: Lytham St Annes RNLI / Ben McGarry)

The yacht was then towed to the marina at the Wyre Estuary in a rescue operation that took five hours.

The RNLI's Richard Freeman, based at Lytham St Annes, said: "Had the coxswain not assessed, planned and acted as swiftly as he did to establish a tow, the casualty vessel could have been lost along with its crew.

Mr McHaffie added: "The yacht was being forced by wind and sea towards the Blackpool beach and if we had not managed to connect the tow they would have been in the surf line in about 10 minutes with a slim chance of survival in those conditions."

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The Lytham Lifeboat prepares to hand the yacht over to Fleetwood ILB (Credit: Fleetwood RNLI / Rob Baines)
Coxswain Andrew McHaffie (Credit: RNLI/David Forshaw)
Andy Hall (Credit: RNLI/David Forshaw)