Lifeboat crews spend up to five hours searching for missing yacht in gale force winds

HASTINGS lifeboatmen spent most of last night (Thursday) in high winds and choppy seas searching for a missing yacht.

The lifeboat and its volunteer crew were called by coastguards just after 9pm after the yacht Sassenach, which was on passage from Boulogne became overdue at Eastbourne.

Concerns were raised as it was getting dark and raining, making visibility poor with rough seas.

Crews spent more than an hour and a half looking for the vessel without success so Eastbourne RNLI sent out its lifeboat to double the search effort in deteriorating weather conditions.

Both lifeboats continued to look for another two hours before the Coastguard said the missing vessel had been found five miles off of Selsey Bill and was safe.

Crews from both Hastings and Eastbourne stood down at 2am today (Friday).

Steve Warne, Hastings RNLI lifeboat coxswain, said: “The Hastings lifeboat and its volunteer crew spent the best part of five hours afloat in the dark, with winds gusting to gale force nine, searching for people who might have been in fear of their lives at sea.

“It’s exactly the sort of uncomfortable situation we train for, and that our many supporters make possible through their contributions.”