World’s only engineless sailing cargo ship towed to safety in North Shields

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres  to safety at North Shields. Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.
Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres to safety at North Shields. Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.

The world’s only engineless sailing cargo ship was towed to safety by Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat this morning.

The lifeboat and volunteer crew members were asked to help by the skipper of the Brigantine-type sailing ship Tres Hombres after a motor launch belonging to the vessel broke down and had to be towed back to her mother ship by Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat.

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres  to safety at North Shields. Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres to safety at North Shields. Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.

The skipper of the Tres Hombres - a 32m,128tonne vessel - then asked for assistance in getting it to a safe harbour because as the boat is powered only by sail and has no auxiliary engine, meaning she relied on the now broken-down motor launch to maneuver in port.

With very strong winds expected on Monday, the vessel could have been in a precarious situation so, after discussions with UK Coastguard, it was decided that the safest option for it was to tow her into the river Tyne.

Tynemouth RNLI's all weather lifeboat launched at 10.44am and made best speed to the Tres Hombres, which was anchored off Whitley Bay with Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat standing by her.

Once the lifeboat met the sailing ship the volunteer crew quickly got her under tow, while a crew member went on board to ensure the tow ropes remained secure.

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres to safety at North Shields, escorted by Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat. 
Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.

Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat tows the Tres Hombres to safety at North Shields, escorted by Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat. Pic by Adrian Don from the RNLI.

The Tres Hombres and her crew of 15 were then taken to North Shields Western Quay without further incident, escorted by Cullercoats RNLI lifeboat who put two crew members ashore on the quay to assist with mooring.

Once the sailing vessel was made fast on the quay the lifeboats returned to their respective stations.

Adrian Don, the spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat, said: "This is one of the most unusual services our volunteer crew members have carried out and the casualty vessel is unique as the world’s only engineless sailing cargo ship.

"The Tres Hombres and her crew were in no immediate danger, but having no engine and with her launch broken down, they had no means of safely getting into harbour and with very poor weather expected her skipper had no alternative but to ask for assistance.

"Our volunteers were happy to help and quickly got the vessel into the shelter of the Tyne harbour."