At 6.12pm the charity’s volunteers launched the station’s D Class lifeboat Ray of Hope. The three person crew headed out of Littlehampton harbour directly in to a strong Force 6 westerly wind which made for heavy going in the smaller of the station’s inshore lifeboats. With low tide at 6.15pm it was uncertain whether the larger B Class Renee Sherman would make it out of the harbour, but once the first lifeboat was underway and with casualties in the water the second vessel was launched to assist in the rescue, carefully navigating it’s way through the shallow waters at the harbour entrance.
A crew from Littlehampton’s flanking station, Selsey, also launched and the Coastguard helicopter from Lydd was tasked. Three lifeboats were now heading to the scene of the incident. During transit, reports were received that a private jet ski rider had headed out from Pagham beach to assist the casualties in the water and at 6.35pm it was confirmed that all three persons, two adults and a child, were now ashore. The Selsey lifeboat crew recovered the remains of the dinghy to Pagham Yacht Club and the Coastguard helicopter stood down at 6.45pm.
Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager, said:
“The sea conditions were rough which made for challenging conditions for our crew. Although visibility was good, reports of persons in the water is of great concern and we were keen to quickly get assistance to the scene. Heading directly in to a Force 6 wind impedes progress so we advised the Coastguard to task our RNLI colleagues at Selsey to launch. They were able to get to the incident ahead of us, although fortunately the three casualties were already ashore by this time. The weather at the location of the capsize was slightly calmer than at Littlehampton, but was still very rough. Small inflatable boats, such as that recovered today, are not suitable craft in such sea conditions.”
Photo Credit RNLI Anthony Fogg