Yacht tiller snaps and is rescued with no steering.

Boat Launched : Atlantic 85

Date : 19 September

Launched at : 16:00

Returned at : 18:30

Weather : F6 SW wind with an ebb tide causing 3-4m waves.

Lifeboats and yacht back in the harbour.




On 19 September a yacht approaching Chichester Harbour in SW Force 6 winds and 3-4 metre waves snapped its tiller and so lost all steerage control. It put out a Mayday call for help and Hayling Island RNLI Lifeboat saved it from being driven onto a lee shore at W Wittering.

The yacht, with 3 people on board was caught in a wind-over-tide situation which kicked up large waves which were breaking over the shallow banks and with no steerage the yacht was vulnerable. The Atlantic 85 lifeboat was launched with 3 crew and helm Jamie Bray and encountered some very large confused seas. On arriving at the reported position they found Hayling Rescue on scene still looking for the yacht which was spotted by a crew member Steve Hulatt, having been driven onto East Pole Sands already quite close to the wreck site.


The lifeboat to reach the yacht had to drive through large breaking seas to get upwind of the yacht so it could run down with the seas to its position. The helm manoeuvred the lifeboat close to the yacht and crew Phil Terry went on board to get ready for the tow line. This was successfully passed at the first attempt and the yacht was towed SW to clear the shallow waters. It was then necessary to turn towards the harbour mouth with wind and waves across both yacht and lifeboat and the helm showed great skill in doing so, but on passage and with breaking waves, the yacht broached badly several times. Jamie showed very good seamanship in turning again into the breaking waves to make the situation safe and asked if the yacht could rig a drogue (to slow the boat down when with waves and tide) but this was not possible and so a request was made for the Bembridge all-weather lifeboat to launch and take over the tow as they are equipped with a drogue.


As the Bembridge lifeboat arrived the ebb tide had nearly ended and the waves had largely subsided. A towline, bridle and drogue were passed to the yacht and once set up the tow was taken over by Bembridge, and the Hayling Lifeboat escorted Hayling Rescue, manned by one crew, into the harbour. Once inside the relative calm of the harbour the tow was taken back by the Atlantic 85 (pictured) which took the yacht alongside and towed her to Sparkes Marina where she was met by the Coastguard. Both the crew of the Hayling Lifeboat and Frank Dunster of Hayling Rescue, himself a former helm of the Hayling Lifeboat, said that Jamie Bray showed great skill in boat handling in difficult conditions and great judgement during this incident, which of course meant that three sailors and their yacht were rescued. Jamie said ‘It was tricky and the fact that the yacht still had a rudder but no tiller and therefore uncontrolled meant the situation was much more difficult for both the yachts skipper and ourselves. We are glad to have been able to bring them home safely.’ 




Service Numbers 2019

Total Launches: 84
Atlantic 85: 42
D-Class: 42

Services Totals

2015 - 67
2014 -77
2013 - 86
2012 - 77

Tide Times
Tide Times & Heights for Chichester Harbour (Entrance) on Sunday, 27 September 2020
Low Tide: 01:59 ( 1.80m )
High Tide: 09:35 ( 3.90m )
Low Tide: 14:29 ( 1.80m )
High Tide: 22:06 ( 3.90m )
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