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September 3, 2005
Hovercraft called out for second day running as yacht runs aground at Stert

Burnham's Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft was called out for the second day running after a yacht ran aground at Stert Island in Bridgwater Bay, just yards from where a speedboat went aground the day before.

The hovercraft next to the stricken yacht KateThe rescue hovercraft was called out by Coastguards after a 76-year-old yachtsman ran aground in his 20ft yacht, called Kate, on a mud bank at the northern edge of Stert.

Swansea Coastguards tried contacting the yacht by VHF radio but when they were unable to reach him, they asked Burnham-On-Sea Coastguards to co-ordinate the launch of the hovercraft and check the welfare of the yacht and its occupant.

The hovercraft launched at 11.45am from Burnham Beach and made its way to the stricken yacht with two members of the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team onboard and two hovercraft crew, including pilot Pete Charles.

This photo taken onboard the hovercraft shows the yacht's motor stuck fastAlan Miller, chairman of BARB, the group that runs the hovercraft, said: "On reaching the yacht, our crew spoke with the occupant and established that he had enough food and water onboard and was therefore happy to stay there until the incoming tide."

"The hovercraft was once again the only means of reaching the yacht, given that the tide was out and deep mud was surrounding it."

Burnham Coastguard officer, Steve Bird, said: "To have a second call-out here in two days was an unfortunate coincidence. Sand and mud do shift in Bridgwater Bay on a weekly, and even daily, basis and this makes the channel here difficult for even experienced sailors."

The hovercraft returns to Burnham beach with the Mud Rescue Team after the incident

The Burnham hovercraft is named after five year-old Lelaina Hall, who tragically lost her life in the mud at Berrow in 2002.

The Western Daily Press launched a successful fundraising campaign when its readers donated £115,000 to buy the fully-equipped hovercraft. During its first 18 months of operation, it has helped and rescued more than 75 people along the Somerset coastline.


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