The St Mary's Lifeboat was called out three times in a week after a quiet start to the year.
The volunteer crew was back in action over the first week of the Easter Holidays after seven months with no callouts.
On Sunday April 6th they responded after HM Coastguard’s satellite system detected a signal from a emergency distress beacon 15 nautical miles north of Round Island. On arrival at the last recorded transmission point of the beacon, using direction finding equipment, the All Weather Lifeboat The Whiteheads was tasked with running a search pattern to locate the cause of the emergency signal. The HM Coast Guard Helicopter R924 and a fishing vessel that had responded were also tasked to search.
The Plotter Screen showing the course up and the search pattern requested to carry out. The coloured triangles are AIS targets, showing other shipping
However, after no more transmissions were received the St Mary’s RNLI crew were stood down. Shortly afterwards the HM Coastguard helicopter detected a strong signal to the east and recovered an active emergency distress beacon near the Sevenstones Lightship that had been lost from a vessel a few days earlier. The two signals are not thought to be linked.
This was the first launch of 2019 for the St Mary’s crew, the first for Pete Hicks as a full time coxswain and the first for volunteer Russell Hutchins since joining the crew.
On April 9th, the lifeboat was requested to launch in the afternoon to assist with a search for a missing person on St Martin’s. However, the individual was found safe and well shortly afterwards and the launch was cancelled.
On April 11th, the RNLI crew once again responded to a request to launch from HM Coastguard to assist a 10m yacht manned by two people that was making no progress to the north east of the islands. After assessing the situation the lifeboat crew decided to tow the vessel to St Mary’s.
They placed two crew members on board the yacht to assist the sailors to drop the main sail, which had become stuck and connect the tow. The yacht was then towed back to the safety of St Mary’s Harbour, arriving at 8.10pm. After the crew had returned, they were able to assist with a HM coastguard helicopter training exercise around the south of St Mary’s.
Coxswain Pete Hicks said: "It has been a busy week for St Mary’s volunteer crew and we are pleased that we have been able to assist in a number of shouts this week. At this time of the year the weather can change quickly and we would remind people to check the weather and tides and check all of your equipment before setting off."