Man seen 'barely afloat' after yacht bursts into flames off Welsh coast

The scene that confronted the arriving RNLI crew
-Credit: (Image: Tenby RNLI)


A dramatic rescue has taken place after a yacht burst into flames in the middle of the sea miles off the west Wales coast. Emergency services including rescue helicopters were alerted to an incident shortly after 7pm on Saturday night after a member of the public saw smoke in the distance whilst in Stackpole, Pembrokeshire.

An all-weather lifeboat from Tenby RNLI was quickly launched and the crew spotted smoke on the horizon some 12 miles south of St Margaret’s Island, south of Tenby. When they got closer, they discovered a 35ft yacht in flames. The vessel was almost totally destroyed by the fire and its occupant was in the sea and described by the RNLI as “barely afloat and disappearing under the surface”.

The man was brought onboard the Haydn Miller lifeboat and taken to Tenby harbour to be transferred to the care of the Welsh Ambulance Service, who were waiting at the scene. You can get the latest WalesOnline newsletters e-mailed to you directly for free by signing up here.

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An RNLI crew member got into the water to keep the casualty afloat
An image taken by the RNLI as they approached the badly damaged yacht on Saturday night -Credit:Tenby RNLI

Unsure if there was anyone else onboard the badly-damaged yacht, RNLI volunteers headed back to the scene to conduct a search of the area surrounding it. A spokesman for Tenby RNLI said: “With the casualty unable to confirm if he was alone on the yacht or not, the lifeboat headed back to the scene to commence a search, where they were also joined by Angle’s all-weather lifeboat and Coastguard rescue helicopters from St Athan and Newquay in Cornwall.

“Having thoroughly searched the area for several hours in choppy seas and heavy rain and with nobody else reported missing, the search was brought to an end and all assets stood down. The lifeboat then returned to station, arriving just after 1am. We’d like to thanks our colleagues at Milford Haven Coastguard, Angle Lifeboat RNLI and Coastguard rescue helicopters from St Athan and Newquay for their help in this complex search and also to the Welsh Ambulance service. A great multi-agency effort.”

No further information has been released about the condition of the rescued man. A spokeswoman for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 7.45pm yesterday to an incident at Tenby harbour. We sent two emergency ambulances to the scene, where the crews were supported by two Cymru high acuity response unit paramedics and a Community First Responder. Advanced critical care support was delivered by the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service in a Wales Air Ambulance charity helicopter. One person was taken by road ambulance to hospital.”