At 4.45pm on Friday 28 June, Porthcawl’s RNLI Lifeboat was launched to reports of a 39 foot sailing yacht taking on water and in danger of sinking off Kenfig Beach.

Both Porthcawl and Port Talbot RNLI Lifeboats were launched to the call, as during the radio message to the Coastguard, communications with the yacht were broken, and there was a danger that the yacht had already sunk, and that there would be people in the water.

Porthcawl’s Atlantic 85 Lifeboat Rose of the Shires, reached the yacht first within 13 minutes, and found a lone sailor on board, and a yacht taking on a lot of water and in danger of sinking. Helmsman Andrew Walmsley, a volunteer for over 20 years, put crewman Ross Purchase on board to see if he could stop the flow of water into the yacht, and to start pumping the water from the stricken boat.

As there was so much water, this started some small electrical fires on board, which were quickly brought under control by the lifeboat crew. A rescue helicopter also brought an additional salvage pump to the yacht, and winched it down onto the deck.

Helmsman Andrew Walmsley said “When we arrived at the yacht, we initially made sure that the sailor, a 77 year old experienced yachtsman, was safe and well. When on board, my RNLI crew found that there was approximately three foot of water in the boat, and immediately started pumping the water out of the yacht.”

Porthcawl Lifeboat stood by with the stricken vessel until Mumbles RNLI all weather lifeboat arrived on scene to assist with the pumping, and towed the yacht to Swansea Marina.

Mrs Aileen Jones, volunteer RNLI Deputy Launching Authority for Porthcawl said “this rescue highlights the important work all our RNLI volunteers around the coast. This rescue involved three RNLI Lifeboats and a helicopter, which in total involved over 30 RNLI volunteers either at sea, or as importantly on shore assisting with the launch of the lifeboats.

“All these people are volunteers and the RNLI lifeboats and equipment are paid for from the contributions we get from the public. These RNLI volunteers made the rescue possible by giving up their own time to rescue the yacht, and to attend training sessions, sometimes twice a week, for no financial reward.”