Lifeboat launched after intoxicated skipper runs vessel aground

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Newhaven’s lifeboat and volunteer crew were launched at 8:50pm on Friday, August 7 after HM Coastguards requested assistance with a vessel aground and an intoxicated skipper.

Once the relief Severn Class lifeboat had left the side, the inflatable Y-boat was launched. The Y-boat with three crew on board made its way to the north of Piddinghoe, where the vessel was spotted high and dry on a steep part of the riverbank.

HM coastguards were on scene with the intoxicated casualty, who was moved to safety behind the riverbank.

HM Coastguards had secured the vessel to the river bank to stop it sliding sideways and possibly capsizing.

When the lifeboat crew investigated, the propeller was stuck fast in rocks, with the weight of the boat holding it in place on the steep bank.

The Y-boat tried to free the stuck propeller but unfortunately this was not possible.

Due to concerns that the intoxicated skipper may try and get back on-board the vessel, it was agreed that the lifeboat crew would take them back to the lifeboat station.

The skipper was lowered down the bank on a safety line by HM Coastguards with the lifeboat crew assisting. He was safely put into the Y-boat and taken to Newhaven lifeboat station, where he was handed over to the Sussex Constabulary.

The decision was made to try and recover the vessel on Saturday, August 8 on the first high tide at 6am.

Three lifeboat crew in the Y-boat went to recover the vessel only to find it had sunk overnight on the flood tide.

Coastguards were informed of exact position and arrangements were to be made to salvage the vessel. The lifeboat crew advised that there were no signs of fuel or oil in the river or around the vessel.

Coxswain Paul Legendre said: “Alcohol probably played a key part in the incident.

“The River Ouse is a fast-moving river and there was real potential for a tragedy, this was a lucky escape.

“Please check out to understand the risks when out on or near the water.”

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