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Maritime rescue services are inundated with emergency calls

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 11, 2012

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The Westcountry's maritime rescue services endured a busy 24 hours as the unseasonally bad weather hit the region's coast.

The coastguard stations at Falmouth and Brixham were inundated with calls and automatic alerts ranging from shipping drifting without power, to yachts breaking or dragging their moorings.

On Thursday, RNLI volunteers from The Lizard had battled through force seven southerly winds to go to the aid of a sailor, on a voyage from Plymouth to the Azores, whose yacht had overturned twice in heavy seas.

They were recalled when Peter Evans, 54, was winched to safety by the search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose in West Cornwall.

Lifeboat colleagues from Fowey also launched to the French fishing vessel Maranello, with five crew members on board, which had suffered engine failure 20 nautical miles south of the Cornish port. Half an hour into the rescue, in a force eight gale, the lifeboat was recalled with the 25-metre trawler Maranello being offered a tow back to France by her sister ship.

However, the alarm was raised by the vessel again at 6am yesterday as the two vessels neared the Eddystone Rocks, south of Plymouth.

The RNLI all-weather lifeboat from Plymouth was sent to rescue the boat, towing her back into the Sound by noon.

Falmouth Coastguards said they had received "numerous reports" of yachts dragging their moorings in harbours. In St Mawes, a 40ft clipper yacht broke free and drifted onto rocks. No-one was on board.

Similar problems were also reported in Salcombe where the RNLI was called to two yachts dragging their anchors and in danger of going aground on rocks.

Late on Thursday night, Falmouth coastguards were informed that lightning had struck the emergency beacon aboard the merchant vessel the Duncan Island off The Lizard, although no-one was hurt and no action needed.

Falmouth were also helping to coordinate the rescue of two sailors hit by a tropical storm in the Pacific.

Sarah Outen and Charlie Martell, who were separately attempting to row from Japan to the United States, both made mayday calls early yesterday morning and were waiting for the Japanese coastguard to pick them up.

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