No fewer than three different lifeboats were in action last night to bring a broken-down cabin-cruiser back to Cardiff Bay.
The disabled vessel was first of all taken under tow by the Portishead lifeboat . The tow was then taken over by the all-weather Barry Dock lifeboat and the final stage of the operation was undertaken by Penarth’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat Maureen Lilian.
The operation was completed successfully at 23:25 last night and all on board the broken-down boat were reported to be safe and well.
The operation – a costly one in terms of resources for a charity like the RNLI which relies entirely on donations from the public – is likely to revive the debate about a proper commercial towage business being set up in the Bristol Channel to operate as a paid-for sea-going “AA” breakdown service – such as the franchised national TowBoatUS service in the United States.
TowBoatUS has 500,000 subscribing members, operates around the clock and attends 70,000 boat breakdowns and groundings every year.
There are now more than 3,500 private pleasure craft based in Cardiff Bay and Penarth Marina with hundreds more berthed at Portishead Marina, Newport, Barry and other channel ports .
The RNLI has the declared aim of reaching 90% of all casualties within 10 nautical miles of the coast, within 30 minutes of a lifeboat launch in any weather . An increasing number of RNLI calls are to vessels with mechanical breakdowns – but any one of them has the potential to escalate into a life-and-death emergency.