Courageous II wrecked near Padstow: Crew 'in danger'

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Media captionOwner Ron Bygott said he was shocked and upset that the boat had been destroyed

The skipper of a fishing boat has told how he and three others were dramatically rescued after it smashed against rocks in a "raging" sea.

Owner Ron Bygott said a lifeboat crew "certainly" saved his life and those onboard the Courageous II.

He said the boat and the wheelhouse had broken in half after it ran aground on the north Cornwall coast.

The RNLI said the four-strong crew was rescued "in the nick of time" as the boat broke up.

Mr Bygott said: "A lifeboat turned up in about 15 minutes, and it's lucky they did because my boat and the wheelhouse broke in half.

"The wheelhouse was attached to the main mast. If that had gone we would probably have gone with it."

Mr Bygott said the sea was "quite mountainous" and the lifeboat crew had "certainly" saved their lives, rowing over the rocks to pluck them to safety.

'Immediate danger'

He added that a friend's ashes had been onboard the vessel and were found amongst the debris.

Mr Bygott had been planning to scatter them at sea.

Mike England, Padstow lifeboat's mechanic, said: "This was a very speedy rescue as the four men were in immediate danger with the boat literally breaking up under their feet.

"Fortunately thanks to skilful boat handling in very shallow water we were able to get them off the boat and ashore in minutes and they are all well."

The vessel, which is believed to date from the 1940s, was en route to Cornwall to take part in Mayday celebrations.

Mr Bygott said they had left Bristol on Sunday but experienced worsening weather conditions.

They attempted to anchor at Stepper Point in the Camel estuary but a gearbox failure meant they were quickly driven onto rocks just outside Padstow and forced to issue a mayday call at about 04.45 BST.

Image caption Owner Ron Bygott said the lifeboat crew saved the lives of the people on board

Wreckage from the 15.2m (50ft) boat was washed up on a local beach.

Mr Bygott said: "I'm shocked and upset, that's 26 years of my life."

The Courageous II has been a regular feature at Padstow's Obby Oss Mayday festival for the past 26 years.

Mr England said: "They're regular visitors to Padstow, usually appearing for our annual Mayday celebrations and it's very sad to see their boat in such a terrible situation."

The vessel was carrying 900 litres (198 gallons) of fuel and coastguards worked with the harbour authority to contain a "small oil slick" coming from the wreck.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has been informed about the incident.

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