A fishing boat, the RNLI and others responded when a boat caught fire in Eastbourne yesterday.

A fishing boat responded quickly to save two sailors when their boat caught fire off Eastbourne yesterday.

Eyewitness reports say the 37ft boat suddenly caught fire around 12:30pm Monday afternoon just outside Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour on the UK’s southern coast.

Dark, acrid plumes of smoke and huge flames can be seen spewing from the boat in the video above. The fire eventually spread to gas cylinders onboard, causing an explosion around 2pm and ultimately sinking the vessel.

Mark Sawyer, Coxswain of the RNLI’s Eastbourne Lifeboat said that rescuers from several boats responded quickly to ensure the safety of the two people onboard the burning yacht.

“One of the local fishing boats, it’s lucky, got alongside, got the people off. The boat was well alight by then.


“The fishing boat then put somebody onboard to secure the anchor line, make sure the boat didn’t drift too far. Quite brave, but then, perhaps, one of those things you have to think about.

“We launched, got out there and saw the boat was well alight, just off of Langley Point. And there was nothing we could do; we don’t officially fight fires … our main priority is the lives.

“[We] just waited for it to burn out and it sunk.

“Everyone reacted very, very quickly. The yacht that put out the mayday relay, the fishing boat that went alongside and took them off, the volunteer crew here at Easbourne. I’m glad to say they’re all ok.”

The RNLI posted a statement on its Facebook page summarising the incident: “ALB launched shortly after mid-day to assist 37ft cruiser on fire outside Sovereign Harbour. Two man crew taken ashore, lifeboat returned to scene and stood well off because there were a number of gas cylinders on board which were likely to explode. Vessel eventually sank.”

Related links: 

Two RNLI crews respond to yacht taking on water

Narrow boat owner who lost everything in fire gets helping hand