Called to rescue four people on board a rigid inflatable near Cuckmere Haven, Newhaven Lifeboat found it had three lifejackets for four people, no flares, no VHF radio, and an anchor which was too small.
Newhaven’s Severn Class lifeboat ‘RNLB David and Elizabeth Acland’ was initially launched on Saturday (August 17) at 4.15pm to search for a capsized sailing dinghy off Friars Bay after a report from a member of the public.
A search was carried out by Newhaven Coastguards from the cliff tops with nothing sighted.
Newhaven Lifeboat then searched close in under the cliffs from Newhaven breakwater to the steps at the east end of Peacehaven and nothing was found.
After a 999 call, the lifeboat was then tasked to a 16ft rigid inflatable vessel with four people on board, which had suffered mechanical problems east of Cuckmere Haven.
The lifeboat found the vessel off Seaford Head where it had the outboard running but only on limp mode at very slow speed and was making little progress against the moderate sea due to the 30 knot south-westerly winds.
The four passengers, one suffering seasickness, were transferred aboard the lifeboat and the vessel was taken under tow.
Once inside Newhaven harbour, the casualties were put back on their RIB and made their way into the Marina, where they were met by Newhaven Coastguards.
The vessel only had three lifejackets for four people, no flares, no VHF radio, and an anchor which was too small for the vessel. Safety advice was given by coastguards.
Coxswain, Paul Legendre, said: “There was real potential for loss of life in this incident.
“In many places mobile phones do not work under the cliffs.
“We would strongly advise anyone taking to the water to have a lifejackets, VHF radio plus flares and always check the weather forecast beforehand.”