Skegness RNLI crew battles Force 9 storm in Hunstanton emergency

Skegness lifeboat Bingo Lifeline is washed down after returning from the launch. Photo: RNLI Skegness.
Skegness lifeboat Bingo Lifeline is washed down after returning from the launch. Photo: RNLI Skegness.

The crew of Skegness RNLI station battled a force nine storm on Friday night and Saturday morning after a pleasure boat ran aground off the Norfolk coast.

Conditions at sea were described as “challenging” on Saturday, as the volunteer crew of the Skegness RNLI lifeboat returned to the town following a call out in high winds and very rough seas.

The relief all-weather lifeboat Bingo Lifeline was requested to launch by Humber Coastguard at 10.21pm on Friday night, when the pleasure boat Sealion ran aground off near Snettisham, south of Hunstanton.

The two man crew of the Sealion had been attempting to move the vessel to safe harbour at Kings Lynn when they got into trouble.

Humber Coastguard also requested RAF search and rescue helicopter Rescue 125 from RAF Wattisham, along with the RNLI’s inshore lifeboat at Hunstanton, but the sea conditions on the Norfolk coast meant the local lifeboat was unable to launch as it is barred from tackling seas worse than force six at night.

With only around one per cent of lifeboat launches being made in conditions of force eight or above, Skegness lifeboat Coxswain Ray Chapman knew the volunteer crew were in for a rough ride during the 16 mile journey into The Wash to find Sealion.

He said: “We knew this could have been a long, tough shout when we launched.

“The wind was gusting up to force nine and the waves were around four metres high at times – challenging conditions for the crew, but you baton down the hatches, hold on tight, and get on with the job.”

With the wind and waves behind her, Skegness lifeboat made steady progress south and were just three miles away from the vessel at midnight when the two people on board Sealion were winched to safety by Rescue 125 before being taken to Hunstanton.

Due to the conditions, once the two crew of Sealion were safe, Humber Coastguard released the lifeboat to return home and the crew began the slow journey north back to Skegness, now heading directly into the oncoming wind and seas.

Ray said: “It was a bit like being on a rollercoaster and not being able to see the track in front of you – we had to throttle back heading into the seas, and managed only 8-9 knots on the way home.”

The lifeboat reached the beach at Skegness just after 1.30am on Saturday morning) and was washed down, refuelled and ready for service again at 2.30am.

The Mersey-class lifeboat Bingo Lifeline is currently stationed at Skegness while the base’s normal offshore lifeboat - the Lincolnshire Poacher - undergoes engine maintenance in Grimsby.

The vessel is expected to return to Skegness by October 20.