Crew stuck on sinking boat for six hours during dramatic rescue operation near St Ives

The rescuers were forced to use old life jackets to plug holes in the boat. Credit: BPM Media

People were stuck onboard a sinking boat for six hours during a dramatic rescue operation off the Cornish coast.

Coastguards and the RNLI were sent out on Wednesday 22 November to a 50ft passenger vessel, which was battling rough seas in the dark.

When they arrived, the rescuers found water gushing into the boat and so they used old life jackets to plug the holes.

The lifeboat attended at 4.15pm, some 15 miles north of St Ives Head, and the team tried to transfer their crew and a salvage pump to the struggling vessel.

But the swell made it a difficult transfer and it took several attempts before two rescuers were able to leap across.

In a statement online, the St Ives Lifeboat crew said: "The coxswain made five attempts before the crew members and pump were successfully transferred to the sinking vessel.

"Once they were onboard he awaited an update from the two crew members about the water ingress."

The pumps on the boat were not working and the crew members described the amount of water they were taking on as "alarming".

The vessel was escorted by the coxswain to Newlyn and a lifeboat from Penlee was also sent out to help with the mission.

The statement continued: "While passing Pendeen Lighthouse the RNLI crew members on the casualty vessel called the all-weather lifeboat and said that they had lost all power to the pumps, all navigation equipment was unavailable and all lights had been extinguished.

"A searchlight was used to illuminate the casualty vessel and they followed the lifeboat from astern until handover to Penlee.

Multiple lifeboats were sent on the rescue mission. Credit: BPM Media

"Around 22:30 Penlee Lifeboat rendezvoused with St Ives lifeboat. It was decided the best course of action was for Penlee to take the casualty vessel under tow as the worsening weather conditions made it unsafe to escort the vessel with its lights out.

"The St Ives Lifeboat passed the care of the casualty vessel over to Penlee Lifeboat and they connected their tow rope.

"The two St Ives crew members stayed onboard the casualty vessel. The deteriorating weather conditions meant it was safer for two lifeboats not to attempt to transfer any new crew and kit to the casualty vessel.

"St Ives Lifeboat was released from the task and returned to the station. A crew member from St Ives was tasked to drive to Newlyn to collect the two crew members and the salvage pump and return them to St Ives."