Yachts rescued at Felixstowe Ferry

TWO yachts which ran aground on the notorious Deben sand bar had to be rescued by lifeboat crews.Both Harwich-based RNLI lifeboats were launched at 5.

RESCUERS were praised today after battling against five-metre high waves to pull two yachts with 16 people on board off a notorious sand bar.

The yachts got into difficulty and ran aground on the Deben bar in the mouth of the river at Felixstowe Ferry.

John Barber, who runs the Felixstowe foot ferry, and the crew from Giles, Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club's rescue boat, were able to pull the yachts off the bar, and guide them out of the area to safer water.

The ferry and the rescue boat had to overcome five metre high waves and choppy waters to reach the yachts and guide the vessels out of a precarious position.

The yachts, from Britannia Sailing School on the Suffolk and Essex border, were unaware of the shallowness of the water, and its reputation for catching out even experienced sailors.

Luke Rudd, rescue officer at Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club, and who helped in the rescue, said: “The conditions were awful, with high waves and rough seas, and it was a really difficult situation from which to rescue the yachts.

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“John Barber, who drives the ferry, showed excellent seamanship to pull the yachts off the sand, and we were able to use our knowledge of the area to guide them back into deep waters and see them on their way.”

Both RNLI life boats from Harwich were initially called to the scene, but were stood down before they got there, thanks to the good work of the ferry and rescue boat.

Felixstowe Coastguard rescue team were also paged to assist in the incident, which happened at 5.30pm on Saturday.

The Harwich RNLI inshore lifeboat was also launched earlier in the afternoon, around 1pm, to help the yacht Abanna.

The vessel, which had four people on board, had an anchor chain caught round her propeller and was adrift in the River Orwell.

She was towed to Levington Marina for repairs.