Reliability, Performance, Compliance


Flares used in search for a yacht with electrical failure


Parachute flares have been used in a nighttime search for a yacht after its electronic safety equipment failed.

The UK Coastguard at Holyhead received a 999 call around midnight one night in May. Two people on board a yacht said there had been an electrical failure. They were unsure of their position.

Chris Feibusch, WesCom Signal & Rescue’s Director of Global Marketing and Communications, says, “This incident illustrates the importance of carrying in-date pyrotechnic flares to complement electronic safety devices.”

The crew members were unsure of their location, other than being west of the South Hoyle windfarm, off Prestatyn.

The Rhyl All-weather lifeboat Anthony Kenneth Heard was launched at 1.57 am in strong winds and also choppy seas. It was tasked to search for the yacht, says the RNLI.

Holyhead coastguard was then told that a man sailing his 32-feet yacht Barbaresco from Falmouth to Fleetwood, had not made contact since 6pm.

A search pattern was given to the lifeboat after an anchored merchant vessel Bergen Troll heard a faint radio message on the distress channel. It stated the vessel was estimated to be by the South Hoyle windfarm.

White parachute flares used in search for yacht

The lifeboat used white parachute flares to illuminate the area and also watched the radar. All vessels in the area were asked to keep a lookout.

The rig support vessel Vos Pathfinder and the coastguard both received a distress coded message via radio. It told of a vessel in distress further north of the search area. This was off Blackpool and in the Morecambe Bay gas field area.

The support vessel launched a response craft and located the man and his yacht. As it was further North than thought, Holyhead Coastguard asked Fleetwood lifeboat to launch and recover the yacht and take it back to Fleetwood.

Martin Jones, Rhyl RNLI Coxswain says, “This is the first major search and rescue operation our new Shannon-class lifeboat was requested to perform. The boat and all systems performed well, and keeps the volunteer crew safe.”

The casualty had safety equipment on board but due to the electrical failure, it malfunctioned. The photo of the parachute flare is credit of RNLI/Callum Robinson.

Read about flares used in another nighttime rescue.

Jun 09, 2020