17th September 2020
Cowes RNLI lifeboat this (Thursday) evening passed its 600th ‘shout’ since the life-saving charity began operations in the town in 2008.
First it went to the aid of a motorboat and later a yacht – both in potentially life-threatening trouble in the choppy conditions.
The crew were alerted to the first emergency – the 600th – in a unique way; because of the coronavirus they were undergoing their weekly crew meeting at the time, away from the station, through Zoom.
Coastguards had informed Station Operations Manager, Mark Southwell, that a 24-foot motorboat was grounded on rocks on the east side of Thorness Ledge, and the two people aboard were in urgent need of assistance in failing light and a heavy swell.
After launching at 7.25 pm the lifeboat located the craft, also being monitored from the shore by Needles and Ventnor coastguard teams.
So began the long process of escorting it back to its base at Town Quay, Southampton. Despite the motor-boat’s navigation lights failing off Fawley the lifeboat completed the task, and finally returned to the Cowes station at 9.55 pm.
But just as the crew were washing down the lifeboat on the slipway there came a second alert, this time involving a 27-foot yacht with two people aboard; they radioed they had engine trouble.
The stricken yacht’s location on the edge of the main shipping channel, off Old Castle Point, East Cowes was helpfully pinpointed by a searchlight used by the pilot aboard the passing giant car-carrier, Auto Energy. Eventually the lifeboat towed the yacht to Trinity Landing, Cowes.
As well as the station now exceeding the 600 ‘shouts’, the two operations meant that since Cowes RNLI took over from the town’s independent lifeboat in 2008 it had assisted no fewer than 753 people – men, women and, just occasionally, children.