Better safe than sorry, the saying goes – and twice within 24 hours members of Cowes RNLI lifeboat were alerted to possible emergencies, only to find their life-saving prowess was not needed for either after all.
First of these false alarms came late on Wednesday night when HM Coastguard were informed by a yacht crew that shouting they heard at the mouth of Cowes Harbour seemed to be between two men on the new offshore breakwater. But after launching at 22:20, and despite using powerful search lights, the crew found nothing amiss and eventually returned to station.
Then shortly before midday yesterday (Thursday), the volunteers were again summoned to the station following a curious report that a lone sailor aboard a 26ft gaff-rigged yacht in the Solent could possibly be unconscious. What apparently lead to this belief were concerns raised by another yacht, followed by the failure of HM Coastguard to get any response from the yachtsman over the radio for well over five minutes.
But then, as the Cowes Harbour launch HM1 approached, the silence was suddenly broken, with the yachtsman finally assuring all concerned he was very much alive and well. Fortunately on this occasion the ‘stand down’ came before the assembled lifeboat crew took to the sea.
The station’s operations manager, Mark Southwell, said later:
“It is right that our volunteers should be ready for any perceived emergency. And when a yachtsman may have suffered some kind of medical collapse, what better way of responding than with a crew who are very largely trained to a high standard of casualty care? It is very good news, however, that in the event the yachtsman did not need that care.”