An overnight mission saved a listing yacht hard up against rocks near Watchet Harbour.

A mayday call from an experienced solo yachtsman sent two rescue teams out for an overnight mission to save a listing yacht.

The sailor and his 25ft single keel yacht, Colette, reportedly ran aground west of Watchet Harbour after crossing the Bristol Channel from Penarth in South Wales around 8pm on Saturday (19 March).

The yacht had run out of fuel and wind and tides pushed the craft onto rocks near a Watchet beach where it began to develop a severe, 45-degree list.

Milford Haven Coastguard tasked boats from both Watchet’s Coastguard Search and Rescue Team and Minehead’s RNLI as well as the RAF St Athen Coastguard rescue helicopter from Wales to respond to the distress call.


Coastguard and RNLI crews arrived quickly and the Coastguard helicopter’s search light enabled crews to make contact with the sailor and safely transfer him from the stricken vessel.

RNLI lifeboats were reportedly unable to get close to the yacht and stood off from the vessel to make an assessment regarding its recovery.

Coastguard teams secured the vessel by deploying its anchors to prevent further damage from waves pushing it onto rocks and the movements of the tides.

A rock ledge prevented the yacht from completely capsizing, and when the tide was high enough, one of the RNLI lifeboats was able to secure a line and tow the yacht to safety.

A post on the Minehead RNLI Facebook page described the tow: “The vessel was held stable by Minehead’s D class lifeboat until it could be safely floated off and navigated through the rocks and metal stakes. Minehead’s Atlantic 85 then took the tow and took it into Watchet Marina. Operation finished at 03:30.”

Related links:

Two RNLI crews respond to yacht taking on water

Watch 10 rescued from capsized fishing boats