Motorboat on Fire

Date: Wednesday 25 August 2021

Location: 2 miles South of Portscatho, Gerrans Bay

Weather: E 4, Slight Sea and Swell, Good Visibility, Clear Sky

All weather lifeboat: (Launched 17:03 / Returned 18:15) – Jonathon Blakeston (Coxswain), Dave Nicoll, Jonathan Hackwell, Andy Edwards

Inshore lifeboat: (Proceeded 16:52 / Returned 18:10) – Jamie Connolly (Helmsman), Tamara Brookes, Jack Williams, Lloyd Barron


At 16:51 Falmouth Coastguard requested that Falmouth All-Weather and Inshore Lifeboats be tasked following numerous reports of a boat on fire, south of Portscatho in Gerrans Bay. Several vessels responded to the Coastguard’s Mayday broadcast. The Portscatho Coastguard Rescue Team, Coastguard Helicopter from South Wales, and the Fire Brigade Fire Boat were also tasked to assist.

The Inshore Lifeboat was already afloat on a previous service in the Helford River and having been tasked was underway at 16:52. The All-Weather Lifeboat left its pontoon berth at 17:03 and having rounded Zone Point headed up to the east. While both lifeboats were proceeding to the scene, they were advised that the single occupant from the motorboat had been recovered from his dinghy by a large motorboat which had diverted to assist. The Inshore Lifeboat arrived on scene at 17:06 and immediately placed two casualty care trained lifeboat crew onboard the motorboat to assess the casualty. It was confirmed that the casualty did not require immediate medical attention but was suffering from shock, so the helicopter was stood down. Once the All-Weather Lifeboat was on scene at 17:19, the casualty was transferred to the Lifeboat by the Inshore Lifeboat.

Both lifeboats stood by the burning motorboat to await the arrival of the Fire Boat which arrived at 17:55. Both lifeboats were then  released to return to their station where the casualty was met by a relative.

The Inshore Lifeboat was recovered onto its slipway at 18:10 with the All-Weather Lifeboat arriving back alongside its pontoon berth at 18:15, where both boats were refuelled and made ready for service by 18:25.

The 6.5m motorboat with its single occupant had been on passage from Fowey to Falmouth. The skipper had been suffering mechanical issues with his inboard diesel engine and had been in the process of starting the boat’s auxiliary outboard when the fire had broken out. The fire left him no choice but to abandon his boat and get into his inflatable tender. The fire took hold very quickly with its smoke plume visible from miles away. Eventually the boat burned down to the waterline and sank at around 18:30.

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