Lifeboat called to help overdue Dutch yacht heading for Lowestoft

The Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat was called to help a Dutch yacht named 'Unity'. Picture: Mick Howes

The Lowestoft RNLI Lifeboat was called to help a Dutch yacht named 'Unity'. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Archant

The Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat and coastguard teams were called to help an overdue yacht that was heading for the town on Sunday (June 12).

The Dutch yacht named 'Unity'. Picture: RNLI / Michael Beadle

The Dutch yacht named 'Unity'. Picture: RNLI / Michael Beadle - Credit: Archant

The solo sailor on the Dutch yacht named 'Unity' had been at sea for three days and couldn't be contacted.

When the vessel failed to arrive as scheduled, a concerned relative called the coastguard and asked for help in contacting the skipper.

The 32-foot yacht had left Den Helder in the Netherlands on Friday and was heading for Lowestoft.

After a radio message was broadcast to all vessels in the area – a Dutch coastguard aircraft was also sent to try to locate the missing vessel and successfully spotted the yacht.

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It was then towed to safety by the Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat.

Lifeboat Coxswain John Fox said: 'The volunteer crew of our Shannon class lifeboat Patsy Knight were paged just after 6.15pm on Sunday and we launched straight away to help the stranded vessel.

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'The yacht was 14 miles east of Lowestoft and it took us just over half an hour, going through patchy fog, to reach her.

'The sailor was pleased to see us and told us that he had been at sea for three days and had become becalmed and was just drifting around.

'He had resorted to using his auxiliary engine but with only a small capacity had run out of fuel.

'He didn't realise that the coastguard were trying to contact him as his radio only had a limited range – but when he saw the coastguard aircraft overhead – he managed to make radio contact.'

Having connected a towline to the Dutch yacht, the RNLI charity's lifeboat took just under three hours to bring the vessel back into the harbour where it was moored at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk yacht club and met by the Lowestoft and Southwold Coastguard Rescue Teams.

Coastguard officers were initially called just before midday to complete a search of the shoreline and harbour areas of Lowestoft and Southwold.

A spokesman said: 'The yacht was delayed due to the weather and fuel on-board.

'Unfortunately only a hand held VHF radio was on-board and so the yacht was not receiving the communications from the UK shoreline due to being out of radio range.'

After the yacht was located, six coastguard officers were sent to the yacht club just after 9pm to meet the vessel.

'No damage to the vessel and all was well with the sailor,' the spokesman added.

'He was frustrated at having to be assisted but glad to see some friendly faces.'

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