People stranded aboard yacht rescued

A DRAMATIC rescue operation by coastguard evacuated 100 people celebrating with a festive family lunch who became stranded aboard a yacht in Essex.

A DRAMATIC rescue operation by coastguard evacuated more than 100 people celebrating Christmas at a festive family lunch who became stranded aboard a yacht in Essex.

Southend Coastguard assisted Essex Fire and Rescue Service at around 5pm at the Essex Yacht Club, Leigh on Sea.

The vessel, MV Wilton, which is permanently moored close to Bell Wharf moved with the tide and subsequently displaced the gangway.

The movement left the gangway in too precarious a position to be used by the 112 people on board.


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Fire crews used a winch to secure the gangway then helped each person across one at a time.

Divisional Officer Martin Powell said: “The gangplank had moved leaving it hanging onto the jetty by just millimetres; it was certainly not safe for anyone to walk across and there were 112 people on the ship enjoying the club's Christmas lunch.

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“Crews used the winch to secure the gangway by attaching one end to the gangway and the other to a post on the jetty, they then walked each member off one by one until they were all safely back on dry land.

“The crews did a fantastic job, it was a unusual rescue requiring no small amount of innovation on their part to get everyone safely off. On top of this crews had to carry all of the equipment for half a mile down a snowy hill and along an icy path to get it where it was needed.

“Everyone worked extremely hard to get those people off the boat as quickly as we safely could.”

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