Youngsters rescued from sandbank

A TRAINING vessel sent out a mayday call after running aground and being battered by waves off the Essex coast.The Excelsior, a restored fishing smack, sent out a call for assistance at just after 8am yesterday.

By Annie Davidson

A TRAINING vessel sent out a mayday call after running aground and being battered by waves off the Essex coast.

The Excelsior, a restored fishing smack, sent out a call for assistance at just after 8am yesterday.

It was sailing off Colne Point, near Point Clear, when it was ran aground on the Colne Bar, a sandbank near the entrance to the River Colne.


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There were 15 people on board the Lowestoft-based boat, including eight schoolchildren and two teachers. No-one was injured and the boat was not damaged.

Walton and Frinton lifeboat press officer Stewart Oxley said that the lifeboat was sent out along with an inflatable RNLI craft from West Mersea.

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Mr Oxley said: “She (the Excelsior) was lying across the waves and the wind was coming in from the south.

“It wouldn't have been very comfortable for everyone on board.

“The lifeboat went alongside her and secured a tow rope and pulled the bow round into the sea which made the situation much more comfortable for everyone on board.

“She was towed off into deeper water and checks were made inside the boat but the crew were happy she was okay.

“She then sailed to Ipswich to be checked more thoroughly.”

The Cirdan Sailing Trust operates the boat and Nick Back, chief executive of the trust, said: ''It is not serious but we do not like going aground and I will be looking into the reasons for it.''

As the Walton and Frinton lifeboat was making its way home it was diverted to South Buxey sands around seven miles off Mersea where a motor cruiser had run aground with two people on board.

The Nereva alerted coastguards at 7.49am yesterday and the Burnham lifeboat was sent first before being joined later by the Walton and Frinton lifeboat.

At one point A rescue helicopter from Wattisham was on stand-by as the motor cruiser was in danger of capsizing.

It was at a dangerous angle on the sandbank and became more unstable as the tide went lower.

But the helicopter was stood down after the Nereva stabilised by itself.

It refloated with the tide at 11am, and was escorted to the River Colne before sailing alone into Brightlingsea.

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