Tourist fishing boat in rescue drama

More than 30 people had to be rescued after their fishing boat broke down off the coast of Exmouth.

The 54ft Southern Angler had set out from Exmouth docks carrying 28 tourists and three crew members, but their pleasure cruise took a dramatic turn when the engine cut out.

The crew were forced to call the Exmouth lifeboat Margaret Jean, whose crew discovered the boat’s anchor had become tangled in a buoy.

The lifeboat towed the stricken Southern Angler back to its mooring, before its passengers were transferred to the lifeboat to be taken back to the docks.

Among the boat’s passengers was Karen Derrig from Manchester, who was in Exmouth visiting a friend.

She said: “It seemed a bit windy, and my friend Pauline Moran was reluctant to go out, but I said it would be fine.

“We got about a mile out and it was quite choppy and rough, then the engine cut out and they had to phone for the lifeboat.

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“It was quite dramatic, as a lifeboat crewman nearly fell in the sea trying to climb onto our boat, and then the boats hit each other.

“It was a bit scary at times and a couple of kids were crying – the lifeboat crew tried to reassure us, but it’s not something you expect to happen.”

Skipper of the Southern Angler, Liane O’Donnell, said: “The problem occurred when contaminated diesel clogged the fuel lines and starved the engine.

“It just goes to show that sometimes the unexpected can happen, even after all the regular maintenance checks that are made on a passenger-carrying vessel.

“The RNLI are a very essential service – I never realised how happy the sight of the lifeboat could make me!”