The two people on board the yacht were sailing a mile south of Beachy Head when they decided to return to harbour. Having turned for home their attempt to motor-sail back to harbour was thwarted when their yacht suffered an engine failure. Unable to sail in the prevailing conditions they sought assistance. Without a working VHF radio they first contacted Sovereign Harbour by mobile phone and were rightly advised to notify Dover Coastguard. HM Coastguard then paged the volunteer crew and requested the launch of Eastbourne lifeboat. Soon on scene a towline was passed from the ALB to the casualty vessel which was then towed back to Sovereign Harbour where it was passed to the harbour workboat.
A spokesman for Eastbourne lifeboats later commented that for the second time this week sailors had got into difficulty with no working VHF radio on board and were forced to rely on their mobile phones to call for help. It was a concern because often phone signals around Beachy Head are intermittent and unreliable.