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May 1st, 2017.

Newhaven’s Severn Class lifeboat RNLB David and Elizabeth Acland and her volunteer crew were diverted from their regular Sunday morning training exercise at 11:24 am to assist two stranded fisherman yesterday.

Newhaven Coastwatch (NCI) spotted two fishermen on the sea defences, affectionately known as the Bonio’s, at the rear of Newhaven’s West Breakwater. They appeared to be cut off by the incoming tide.

The lifeboat was diverted from its training exercise to the west side of the Newhaven Breakwater where the two individuals were located. The incoming spring tide meant they were in immediate danger.

The Severn Class lifeboat edged forward to the arm and via a loud hailer checked that both men were unharmed. They had small cuts and one man had already been swept into the sea and was suffering the effects of the cold.

The lifeboat backed off and launched its daughter inflatable Y boat with two crew who were already in dry suits by this time. The conditions were choppy with an increasing south easterly wind.

The two crew in the Y boat waited for the right moment before going into a pre-determined position within the rocks.
The two casualties were quickly transferred to the Y boat after a little hesitation.

With both casualties on board the Y boat started moving astern. A couple of large waves then pushed the daughter boat further up the rocks. The main lifeboat then moved in immediately and a heaving line was thrown and secured to the stern of the Y boat.

The Coxswain on board the main lifeboat held tension on the line until a set of larger waves arrived, lifting the daughter boat clear for a second. With perfect timing, he then gently went astern pulling the Y boat clear from the sea defences. Once well clear the Y boat was bought alongside the main lifeboat.

The two casualties who had been completely drenched for some time were medically assessed and given blankets. Once at the lifeboat station a comprehensive assessment was made by the South Coast Ambulance Service and eventually the two fishermen were released a couple of hours later.

The lifeboat returned to station and was ready for service at 12:20pm

Newhaven lifeboat Coxswain Paul Legendre explained: "With one person having spent time in the water and large incoming tides, which would have quickly covered the rocks, plus the choppy conditions, this could have so easily have been a double tragedy.

"Thanks to the great teamwork between Newhaven Coastwatch Institution, Coastguards and our volunteer crew, we really made the difference in what were difficult conditions."