Reliability, Performance, Compliance


RNLI uses illumination flares to help find and rescue sailor


RNLI lifeboat crew set off two white illumination flares to help search for a sailor in difficulty off the Channel Islands.

The RNLI St Helier inshore and all-weather lifeboats were launched to search for the sailor who was separated from his yacht to the south of St Helier and was drifting in his tender. Light north easterly winds blew the casualty away from Jersey.

Jersey Coastguard had taken a call just before midnight from the sailor who only had a mobile phone to communicate and was concerned about how much battery he had left.

After an extensive search, which included setting off two white parachute illumination flares, the sailor was located by the all-weather lifeboat two miles south of Noirmont Point.

He was taken on board and found to have been ill, so was brought to St Helier where he was met by an ambulance as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, the RNLI St Helier inshore lifeboat found the yacht, which had drifted further to the south west. It was then towed back to St Helier.

Paul Mimmack, Deputy Launch Authority for St Helier RNLI says, "This search and rescue mission highlights the importance of carrying the right safety equipment on board not only the main vessel, but also tenders and dinghies if there is a journey of any length being undertaken or if there are no persons remaining aboard the main vessel. It is always safer to stay on the main vessel, even if it is broken down, and only use a dinghy as a last resort, especially at night.

“In this case, conditions were favourable and the outcome was a good one, but the yachtsman did not have a handheld VHF, which would have allowed for direction-finding equipment to obtain bearings, nor any means of illumination such as a flare, which would obviously have helped locate him and his dinghy.

“His one means of communication was a mobile phone which is only effective where there is a signal and then only if it has sufficient battery and has not become water-damaged.

“We would also like to take the opportunity to remind all boat users of the importance of having and wearing a lifejacket, which will help keep anyone in the water afloat and provide a bigger target for search and rescue teams to locate."

The picture of the stranded sailor being recovered is courtesy of RNLI Jersey.

Aug 02, 2018