At 12.22AM, in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 29 September 2019, HM Coastguard altered the Lymington RNLI Lifeboat station that they were tasked to rescue the 4 person crew of a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), which had gone aground on the salt marshes east of the Lymington River in very challenging and potentially dangerous conditions.
Shortly afterwards the all volunteer crew comprising Kevin Coster (helm), Phil Baker (2nd helm), Greg Pachany (crewman) and Declan O’Riordan (crewman) were authorised by Nick Hayward (Lymington Lifeboat Operations Manager to launch the Atlantic 85 Lifeboat “David Bradley” to go to the aid of the RIB but due to the very high tide blocking the slipway this needed to be done from the Royal Lymington Yacht Club pontoon.
After a careful approach in extremely heavy weather (South Westerly blowing up to Strong Gale 9) and zero visibility, the lifeboat located the casualty vessel on the lee shore of the marshes on an ebbing tide. It was quickly apparent that there was little prospect of being able to tow the Rib off and the helm made a decision to put the 2 crewmen ashore to assist in the rescue of the 4 persons on board the RIB.
The crew decided to walk one casualty out one at a time to the lifeboat and get them on board the lifeboat. Four runs were made into the marsh on a course of south to north each time walking out each casualty with our crew members.
Given the state of the sea and the location, there was not enough room for the lifeboat to turn around, so the helm had to carefully reverse the lifeboat into the breaking sea each time. With the adverse tide conditions it was unsafe to recover the vessel at the time. Without the intervention of the crew there was an imminent risk to the lives of those on board the casualty vessel.
The “David Bradley” proceeded back to the harbourmaster’s pontoon, where the casualties were transferred into the care of the Ambulance service at the lifeboat station where at least one of those rescued was found to the suffering from hypothermia.
The lifeboat returned at 2.40am and the shore crew prepared the lifeboat ready for service.
Helm Kevin Coster said “The crew’s work on board was exceptional under challenging conditions and the boat’s performance was impressive.“