Falmouth’s  Arun class lifeboat Elizabeth Ann, Coxswain Alan Barnes and  the  catamaran Cloud 9

The text below is taken from the article published in the Summer 1996 edition of The Lifeboat magazine:

Two crew rescued from disabled catamaran after rigging cut free

Falmouth lifeboat coxswain Alan Barnes and crew member Peter Wood have been awarded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum following the rescue of two people and their 35ft catamaran last November.

The remaining crew members (second coxswain Michael Wilson, deputy coxswain Roger McLarity, mechanic Timothy Julian and crew members Kenneth Avis, Alan Rowe and David Proud) will all receive Vellum Service Certificates.

It was at 1032 on Sunday 26 November 1995 that the Coastguard advised the station of a dismasted catamaran with a fouled propeller four miles south of Dodman Point. Ten minutes later Falmouth’s Arun class lifeboat Elizabeth Ann was proceeding at full speed towards the scene in a south-south-easterly of about 25 knots with rough seas.

A Navy helicopter was already close to the casualty and told the coxswain that the casualty was a 35ft catamaran with two people aboard and drifting at three knots. She had been on passage from the Helford River to Plymouth when her mast had carried away close to the deck. It was now hanging over the port side with the crosstrees against the hull and lines were streaming from her port quarter. The port rails, stanchions and the forward trampoline were all missing and she was lying with her starboard beam to the sea.

The lifeboat arrived on scene at 1124 and was taken up to the stern of the casualty, between the catamaran’s two hulls, and a drogue thrown to the skipper to stream from the starboard hull.

The manoeuvre was so successful that the coxswain was confident he could place a crewman with a radio aboard the catamaran and take the casualty in tow rather than try to take off the elderly survivors.

Crew member Peter Wood volunteered for the job, and after the drogue had been recovered the lifeboat was again taken between the two hulls so that crew member Woods could jump onto the casualty, landing in an inflatable dinghy lashed between the hulls.

He decided that the mast would have to be cleared away before towing could commence. With tools provided by the skipper he finally accomplished the difficult and painstaking task. One problem seemed to be replaced by another, with crew member Wood working in precarious positions aboard the yacht.

At 1218 the coxswain was finally able to pass a towline which was secured to a bridle which Peter Wood had fabricated. Course was set for Falmouth, but as the lifeboat approached Zone Point the wind changed and the lifeboat had to steer a more south-westerly course to avoid the confused sea and swell.

As the lifeboat and casualty altered course to run down-sea into the Fal Estuary the casualty surfed down a large sea and over-rode the towline, which became wrapped around the port hull.

The lifeboat had to be manoeuvred to create slack in the towline and crew member Wood and the skipper pulled in the bridle and cast off the tow.

With all the rigging clear of the hull the casualty’s engine could be started and, as she was now in the shelter of Carrick Roads she was able to proceed to a mooring under her own power, escorted by the lifeboat.

The lifeboat returned to her berth and was ready for service again by 1435.

Presentation of the framed Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum and Vellum Service Certificates. Left to right: Ken Avis; David Proud; Timothy Julian; Michael Wilson; Roger McLarity; Peter Wood;  Air Vice Marshall John Tetley CB CVO; Alan Barnes; Alan Rowe and Station Chairman Bernard Fox.