A rudderless yacht was towed home by Salcombe and Dart RNLI lifeboats on Saturday, August 19th.

The Salcombe Tamar class lifeboat towed the yacht 37 miles to the Dart harbour entrance where the Dart D class lifeboat and the Dart Harbour Authority Rib took over the tow.

Two yachtsmen set off at 5am from Dartmouth in their 32 foot yacht on passage to Guernsey. At the western end of the Casquets Traffic Separation Scheme, 37 miles from Salcombe, they lost their rudder and were adrift.

Solent Coastguard co-ordinated the incident and requested Salcombe all-weather lifeboat to be launched to recover the yacht as it was the nearest vessel able to tow. It took one and a half hours for Salcombe ALB to reach the stranded vessel. Tide and weather dictated that Dartmouth was the quickest port to which to tow the yacht.

Dave Dancox, press officer of Salcombe Lifeboat said: “A 32’ yacht, with two people onboard, had lost its rudder and was adrift in the channel, a very dangerous situation in a shipping lane. While the rudder had disintegrated, [at least] the bar was in place so no water was being taken onboard.”

The all-weather lifeboat crew set up the yacht to tow a large drogue to keep her course steady under tow and they arrived at the mouth of the Dart at 8.40pm, just after sunset, before returning to station.

The D class lifeboat crew set up a stern tow but the yacht yawed dramatically from side to side when under way. The Dart helmsman requested help from the Dart Harbour Authority and the tow was completed successfully with the Dart harbour rib secured alongside the yacht to give her steerage. The yachtsmen were found a berth at the Premier Noss on Dart Marina, 16 hours after they left Dartmouth.

“lt took one and a half hours for Salcombe ALB to reach the stranded vessel, which was then towed to the mouth of the Dart, and the tow transferred to Dart RNLI. The Salcombe lifeboat then returned home,” said Mr Dancox.