Happisburgh R.N.L.I. Lifeboat Station volunteers were called into action today, 18th July 2014, to a small local fishing boat missing at sea off Happisburgh.
Senior Helmsman, Tim Grimmer, had seen the fishing boat, Sea Hawk, launch at approx 7am this morning into heavy seas. Tim was contacted by a relative of the fishermen when he had lost sight of the boat; Tim alerted Humber Coastguard and the Station pagers were set off at 9:50am. At 9:58am Douglas Paley was launched into heavy seas with Tim Grimmer at the helm and a crew of Charlotte Siely and Sean Ferguson.
A search was started from the beach to ½ mile off from Cart Gap towards Sea Palling; the crew were south of Sea Palling and thinking of turning north, to carry out a second line of search, when they saw the boat off Waxham at 10:15am. They went alongside to give aid.
Happisburgh Lifeboat then started to escort Sea Hawk back towards Cart Cap, when they were informed that, as the tide was in, it would not be possible to recover the fishing boat safely. Therefore, the boat was escorted to Sea Palling, arriving at 10:40am to anchor in the lea of the reefs and to wait for low water to try and recover at Cart Gap; the Lifeboat made sure the boat was safe and that the crew had been given advice, before leaving at 11am to return to Station.
At 11:15am Douglas Paley was recovered by net, due to the sea conditions; the Lifeboat was back on service at 11:30am.
Tim Grimmer would like to remind all people who go to sea, to contact the Coastguard to inform them where they are going and when they are returning, also to let others know what their plans are, to wear Lifejacket and have VHF radios to call for help if needed. The RNLI is there to save lives at sea but can only do this if people are able to call them to ask for assistance.
Despite the strong advice of the Lifeboat to leave it until after 4:30pm to attempt to return to Cart Gap, the crew of Sea Hawk decided to return at 2:30pm when the tide was still high with large breakers. As a result of this the crew were stood in chest high water with breakers crashing over their boat which caused it to capsize. Luckily no one was injured; there could have been a much more serious outcome had the boat rolled onto the fishermen.