Reliability, Performance, Compliance


Capsized fishermen use liferaft flares to summon help


Fishermen who took to a liferaft after their boat capsized off the Whitby coast, used flares to summon help.

Early one morning at the end of May, the trio’s 13-metre scalloper listed and then capsized, before they had time to radio for assistance, reports the RNLI.

In minutes, only the hull was visible. The three capsized fishermen held on for more than two and a half hours, as the boat slowly sank.

As the pressure within the boat increased, the emergency liferaft was released, sending a mayday distress call.

Flares fired to indicate position

The men climbed onto the raft and fired flares to indicate their position and alert rescuers. The craft was 76 nautical miles northeast of Whitby.

A Coastguard rescue helicopter set off and Whitby RNLI launched the all-weather lifeboat.

As it would take three hours to reach them by boat, the Coastguard sent mayday signals to all nearby boats. A fishing vessel responded and rescued the trio.

Shortly afterwards, the Coastguard helicopter arrived. A paramedic was winched down to the three men to carry out health checks.

When Whitby's RNLI crew arrived on the scene, they transferred the trio onto the all-weather lifeboat.

Richard Dowson, Station Mechanic at Whitby RNLI who attended the rescue says, “These three men had a very lucky escape and we send our thanks to the fishing vessel that answered the Mayday call and retrieved them from the liferaft.

“The men showed great bravery managing to get out of the water and onto the hull of the boat, not knowing when help would arrive.

“There was nothing the three men could have done to prevent the rapid sinking of their fishing vessel, and we are sad for them that they have lost their livelihood but the main thing is they have come away with their lives.”

The image shows Whitby RNLI reaching the sinking fishing vessel. It is credited to RNLI/Richard Dowson.

Read about the rescue of a crew in another capsized boat, this time in Australia.

Jun 12, 2020