Image: ALB Soon on scene

Eastbourne RNLI all-weather lifeboat launched yesterday in response to a mayday distress call from a passing yacht after the crew saw a serious fire break out on a nearby motor cruiser. 

Eastbourne all-weather lifeboat ALB) launched shortly after mid-day to assist the 37ft motor cruiser which had caught fire not long after leaving Sovereign Harbour on passage to Brighton. The two man crew were first alerted to a problem on their vessel when a fire alarm was activated. Whilst investigating the cause of the alarm a hatch was lifted which caused an immediate flare-up that soon engulfed the entire vessel. With no chance of fighting the fire there was no option but to abandon ship. Fortunately as well as the passing yacht which had raised the initial distress call there were a number of anglers in small fishing vessels in the area who all rushed to assist. The crew of the stricken vessel were taken off to one of these angling boats and the fisherman managed to deploy the anchor of the cruiser to stop it drifting with the tide potentially toward Eastbourne Pier.

Soon on scene Eastbourne lifeboat collected the rescued cruiser crew and took then ashore to a waiting ambulance where they were later pronounced fit and well. The lifeboat meanwhile returned to the now well ablaze motor cruiser. Having been alerted to the risk of exploding gas cylinders and other potential hazards aboard the cruiser the ALB had no option but to stay well clear and protect other vessels in the area. The stricken cruiser eventually burnt out and sank at about 14.30. The ALB crew collected the remaining floating debris and returned to harbour at approx 15.00.

Later Lifeboat Coxswain Mark Sawyer commended the community response to the incident saying how the prompt action of all concerned avoided what could have been a tragic outcome.