Search goes on for Geoff

15:58 14 September 2012

Sarah Jayne pictured alongside the quayside in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 2177-35-10SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Sarah Jayne pictured alongside the quayside in Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 2177-35-10SH To order your copy of this photograph visit www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on myphotos24

Archant

Police divers have visted the spot where Geoff Ingram’s boat, Sarah Jayne, sank on Tuesday to identify if the area is suitable to search for the missing Exmouth trawlerman.

As hope fades for the safe return of an Exmouth fisherman, missing after his trawler capsized and sunk on Tuesday morning, colleagues have spoken of his generous and selfless nature – believing he sacrificed his own life to save his crew.

Named locally as Geoff Ingram, the skipper of the Sarah Jayne, which operates out of Exmouth, was still onboard his 15metre steel stern trawler when it capsized and sunk two-and-a-half miles off Berry Head.

While mystery surrounds the sinking of the Sarah Jayne, which had recently undergone a refit, fellow fishermen said Geoff, 51, who has been fishing since he left school, undoubtedly put his crews’ lives before his own.

Fellow fishermen and dockside workers today remain choked that one of their own is missing - feared dead.

An Exmouth dockside worker, who did not want to be named, said: “Geoff was the safest fisherman here with the best maintained boat and his crew loved him.

“He died going back in the wheelhouse to press the DSC (distress alert) on the radio to make sure they got picked up.

“He would be proud that they were safe and we are proud of him for it.”

Former Exmouth RNLI coxswain Keith Graham said Geoff was known for saving others in trouble at sea.

He said former lifeboat man Geoff once saved the life of a young girl in danger of drowning with her friend off Pole Sands.

Without a thought for himself, Geoff jumped into the sea when the girl disappeared under the murky water, grabbed her arm, saving her life.

Former Exmouth harbour master Keith said he was ‘heartbroken’ Geoff was missing: “It’s absolutely devastating.

“Everybody is gutted. Geoff was so safety conscious in every way.

“His boat was probably the safest boat in the docks because of his lifesaving equipment.

“Knowing Geoff, he would rather have given his life than lose his crew.”

Married dad Geoff and his two-man crew, believed to be Matthew Bull and ‘Spud’ Chamberlain, all from Exmouth, had been fishing for sprats and were on their way back to shore when the boat capsized.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said another Brixham trawler, The Girl Rona, raised the alarm at 11.24am and rescued two crew from the water.

A major air and sea rescue was carried out for missing Geoff until nightfall on Tuesday.

It resumed yesterday morning with the Exmouth and Torbay lifeboat crews searching the surrounding waters. Police divers were also expected to scour the area.

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