RNLI crew take coronavirus precautions to rescue elderly pair

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Ashlett Creek
Calshot’s D-Class lifeboat in action (Photo: RNLI/Justyn Leonard)

AN RNLI crew took extra precautions amid the Covid-19 pandemic as they went to the rescue of a grounded boat by Ashlett Creek with two elderly men on board.

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Responding to a call-out by HM Coastguard on Monday afternoon, the Calshot D-Class lifeboat was dispatched to the small Wayfarer-type sailing dinghy which had become stuck on deep mud off Fawley.

There were concerns for the pensioners who, according to RNLI Calshot, had got into difficulty while enjoying a period of isolation on the water in sunny but breezy conditions.

The vessel sustained a broken mast/ripped sail followed by an auxiliary engine failure and drifted with the falling tide before ending up on deep mud.

An RNLI spokesperson said: “The Calshot volunteer crew successfully located the stricken boat, and assessed not only what action should be taken in getting the two occupants to safety, but also what precautions should be taken to ensure the crew’s safety in the light of the current coronavirus outbreak.

“The RNLI has currently closed all its lifeboat stations and shops to visitors to ensure the charity is able to maintain its world-class lifesaving service. Although the men were not showing any symptoms of the virus the crew took sensible precautions to lessen any risk.”

With the lifeboat kept floating in position at the water’s edge by helm Mark Laughlin and crewmember Damian Lester, the third crew member, Sean Marsh, made his way through the mud.

Having reached the vessel, he was able to confirm the pair on board were in a satisfactory condition. A tow line was then attached and it was pulled off the mud and back into the water before being towed to safety and its crew landed ashore.

Mr Laughlin said afterwards: “These are tough times for everyone. Many of us water lovers find peace and solace afloat, on our boats or even kayaks or paddleboards.

“But remember, no matter how much experience you have, you can get caught out on the water.

“If you do get into difficulty RNLI volunteers are here 365 days a year. Call 999 and ask for Coastguard.”

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