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Letter of Thanks for Newhaven RNLI: Recognition of a Courageous Sea Rescue

RNLI Head of Region commends Lewis Arnold and his crew for their outstanding bravery and successful rescue mission.

In a display of sheer bravery and expertise, the crew of Newhaven RNLI, led by Coxswain Lewis Arnold, executed a daring rescue operation that saved two individuals stranded at sea during a treacherous thunderstorm. This week, Lewis Arnold received a “Letter of Thanks” from the RNLI Head of Region, Ryan Hall, for his team’s courageous efforts in the early hours of September 18, 2023.

The drama unfolded when the Solent Coastguard received a distress call from a yacht, with two people onboard, caught in a violent thunderstorm. The yacht was facing dire conditions with ripped sails, engine failure, and a rapidly increasing water intake. Located approximately 0.5-1 nautical miles south of Cuckmere, the individuals onboard were in a state of panic, facing imminent danger.

Responding to the call, the Newhaven lifeboat, under the command of Arnold and crewed by Dan Wittenberg, Danny Woodford, John Simcock, Claire Townsend, Sam Smith, and Ash Kristiansen, launched into the tempestuous night. Arnold recounted the challenging conditions, noting a brief break in the storm that revealed the distressed yacht, perilously adrift and at the mercy of the fierce weather.

The lifeboat crew made several attempts to establish a tow line with the yacht, facing intense squall conditions. After two unsuccessful tries, the third attempt finally saw success, allowing the lifeboat to commence a slow tow to safer waters, navigating away from the threatening rocky cliffs.

Despite the initial plan to seek shelter in Eastbourne Bay, the relentless gale force winds necessitated a change in strategy. Assistance was called in from Eastbourne RNLI, which launched to take over the tow, enabling Arnold and his team to safely return to their station by 0630.

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