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 Hunstanton2, but the sea conditions on the Norfolk coast meant the lifeboat was unable to launch.
With only around 1% 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:
‘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.’ he said.
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 (Saturday morning) and was washed down, refuelled and ready for service again at 2:30am.
Note: Hunstanton’s Atlantic 85 class inshore lifeboat is designed to be launched and operated in rough weather conditions but is limited in daylight up to force 7 and at night up to force 6, whereas the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat at Skegness can be launched in any conditions.
Author: Russ Matthews. Find out more about the Skegness Lifeboat Station.