Both Eastbourne RNLI lifeboats were launched into urgent service on Weds evening to a 30ft yacht which had run aground on Beachy Head Ledge and was taking on water at an alarming rate
A 30ft yacht with three people on board had misjudged the tides and currents around Beachy Head and had struck the submerged ledge with considerable force and had become holed. Two of the crew had managed to scramble across the rocks to shore leaving the skipper alone on board. On the limit of its operational ability, the inshore lifeboat with Peter Needham at the helm, skilfully manoeuvred into a position where crewman Andy Chatton could be put onto the ledge and negotiate his way across the treacherous rocks to the grounded yacht to render assistance. With the tide in full flood the sea conditions were becoming increasing more challenging as the rescue progressed. Andy managed to drop the yacht’s sails and thus reduce the pressure on the hull but too much damage had already been sustained and the water ingress was becoming severe. Peter used the ILB to ferry additional crewmen Dan Guy and Ian Stringer along with the powerful salvage pump from the all weather lifeboat to the stricken vessel whilst taking the shocked skipper to the safety of the ALB in a display of remarkable seamanship.
With the salvage pump unable to cope with the ingress of water through the multiple breeches in the hull the decision was taken by the combined rescue services that no more could be done to save the vessel which was still stuck fast on the rocks. As much deck gear and personal equipment as was possible was taken aboard the ILB and transferred to the ALB and the yacht abandoned to the sea. The ALB returned the yacht’s skipper to Sovereign Harbour where he was reunited with his crew.