A LONE sailor had to be rescued this afternoon by RNLI lifeboats after his boat started taking on water near St Mary’s Island, Whitley Bay.
The RNLI lifeboats were launched after the skipper of the 7m cabin cruiser radioed Humber Coastguard for urgent assistance after finding water had filled his engine compartment, stopping the motor.
As the lifeboats, crewed by volunteers from Tynemouth and Cullercoats, sped to the rescue, a nearby small boat came across and the occupants helped by using a small handheld pump to try to stop the water getting higher.
Cullercoats inshore lifeboat reached the boat first and their volunteer crew of four quickly put their powered pump onboard and soon reduced the level of the water.
They then started to tow the boat back to safety in the Tyne, with two crew staying onboard as a precaution.
The larger Tynemouth all-weather lifeboat, which carries a much bigger pump, arrived soon after, and although its pump was not needed, it took over the tow from the Cullercoats lifeboat, which remained alongside.
The 30-minute tow back to safety passed without further incident and the boat was put on the moorings at its Royal Quays Marina base.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI, said: “Humber Coastguard made an immediate request for the lifeboats to launch, as there was a serious threat to life.
“Our volunteer crew members followed their training and soon had the situation under control, with the boat and its occupant returned to safety without further incident.
“The leak occurred without warning, although the boat owner was well prepared and had a marine VHF radio and a good lifejacket.
“Incidents like this are why the RNLI always urges boat owners to be prepared for the worst by carrying essential safety equipment.
“As the summer approaches more people will be taking to the water, and the RNLI’s Respect The Water campaign has comprehensive safety advice online at rnli.org/safety.”