Crew on board Happisburgh lifeboat describe searching pitch black waters for sinking yacht

The Howard Bell launches from Happisburgh. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh

The Howard Bell launches from Happisburgh. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh - Credit: RNLI Happisburgh

The hunt to find a sinking yacht five miles off the coast of Happisburgh has been described as 'like trying to find a needle in a haystack' after the RNLI searched the pitch black waters by torch light.

Tim Grimmer. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh

Tim Grimmer. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh - Credit: RNLI Happisburgh

The call came in to Happisburgh RNLI at 8.50pm on September 20, with the crew launching just ten minutes later, in search of a man aboard a sinking boat.

'It was a miracle he managed to call, because he'd dropped his on-board VHF radio into the water, and so rang off a mobile,' said senior helm Tim Grimmer.

The Happisburgh resident, who was leading the crew continued: 'When the initial call came in we went to the coordinates he'd given us but he wasn't there. It was pitch black and we were searching using torches and flares but he was no where to be seen.

'Then we got another call saying he was some two and a half miles further south, so we raced down there and found him with 12 inches of water in the bottom of the vessel.'

The whole crew at RNLI Happisburgh. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh

The whole crew at RNLI Happisburgh. Picture: RNLI Happisburgh - Credit: RNLI Happisburgh


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They eventually managed to find the craft having set off a flare for light.

One member of the RNLI crew jumped aboard with a salvage pump to try and get rid of some of the water in the boat.

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Mr Grimmer, 52, continued: 'The sailor was trying to beach the boat because he knew it was going down. He seemed quite concerned, he obviously knew he was in trouble.'

It was thought the boat was sinking after a seal to the rear of the boat by the propellor broke.

Mr Grimmer has been working for the RNLI for 17 years. He said: 'The only advice I can offer when making journeys like this is be prepared. This man had come from Humber and apparently had left their port without full power.

'He'd also dropped his radio and if he hadn't had mobile signal, which was rare, it would've been quite different.'

Once the lifeboat, towing the yacht reached the 'Yarmouth Roads' they were joined by Gorleston Lifeboat who took over the tow to take the yacht to Lowestoft Harbour.

The Happisburgh crew returned to their station at around 12.30am.

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