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Wells rescuers’ disbelief as yachtsman’s ill-fated voyage sparks another Norfolk sea drama

PUBLISHED: 17:44 30 June 2012

The Wells inshore lifeboat, seen here on a previous voyage, was called out to help an ill-fated and 'ill-equipped' yachtsman.

The Wells inshore lifeboat, seen here on a previous voyage, was called out to help an ill-fated and 'ill-equipped' yachtsman.

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A “foolhardy” sailor whose ill-fated voyage off the Norfolk coast caused another emergency operation today has received a public dressing down from a lifeboat coxswain.

The 19ft 6in vessel Aloysia ran aground this morning after missing the harbour channel at Wells.

Only two days ago, the yachtsman on board had sparked a co-ordinated rescue involving the Cromer and Wells Royal National Lifeboat Institution crews as well as Great Yarmouth Coastguard.

Rescuers involved in both “shouts” have voiced their astonishment that the man appeared to be trying to make a sea voyage without any charts, proper radio communications and adequate safety precautions.

And this afternoon, it emerged that his exploits may have left the RNLI with a bill running into thousands of pounds.

Today’s drama unfolded from about 8am after Wells lifeboat coxswain Allen Frary was alerted by harbourmaster Bob Smith that the Aloysia had run aground on the west side of the harbour channel.

Mr Frary said: “He went out on the morning tide but apparently turned back because of engine problems.”

He said the craft was stuck fast on the sand, and he and lifeboat operations manager Chris Hardy remained on standby as the yachtsman tried to refloat her.

Then, at around noon, they paged the inshore lifeboat crew, which launched to take the vessel in tow and see it safely to a mooring near the harbour office.

Mr Frary said the sole crewman on board, named as Andrew Brown, appeared to have changed his original plan to sail from Yarmouth to Hull and had instead been making for the Wash port of Boston.

The coxswain added that he appeared to be using a road atlas to navigate rather than GPS and charts and was relying on a mobile phone to liaise with the coastguard.

Mr Frary said gusts of force five and six were blowing at Wells today - a “good south-westerly wind”.

He added: “I’m trying to find a printable way of putting it: I think the man was completely foolhardy, really.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for people to put to sea without basic navigational equipment and safety equipment.

“He is putting his own life at risk and wasting the time and resources of the RNLI.”

Each individual shout for the inshore craft was reckoned to cost the charity about £3,500, Mr Frary said.

On Thursday, coastguards were alerted in the early hours by the skipper of a boat operating at the Sheringham Shoal wind farm off Cromer. It was reported that the vessel had been contacted by the Aloysia’s yachtsman asking: “Which way is Hull?”

The crew of Cromer’s all-weather lifeboat were launched to investigate and later handed the craft over to their Wells counterparts.

Today, Mr Frary said the yachtsman - whose final destination is believed to be Sheffield - said he had heard conflicting reports that the man was going to resort to putting the vessel on the back of a trailer and taking it by road – but also that he was hoping to obtain a bigger outboard motor to replace the broken one.

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