Cruisers stuck on Norfolk Broads could take days to free after rescue
- Credit: Hemsby Lifeboat/Simon Carter
Two hire boat cruisers stuck on mud flats after a dramatic rescue on Sunday could take days to re-float.
Some 17 people, including a six-month old baby and its pregnant mother, two dogs and a rabbit were taken from the stricken boats after they both ran aground on Breydon Water on the A47 Acle Straight side in separate incidents.
Dan Hurd coxswain of Hemsby Lifeboat said a family from Hastings had been enjoying their last day of a long-weekend trip when disaster struck.
He said they had spent the night marooned, hoping to be freed by the tide in the morning and had started to panic.
His priority was the baby, opting to remove a glass panel from one of the cruiser's windows and passing the baby through in its car seat, rather than risking moving though the vessel, part of the Richardson's fleet, and causing it to list further.
He said he understood because tides were dropping it would be another three to four days until it was high enough to free the two boats.
Hemsby was tasked because its flat-bottomed Broads' boat was able to get closer to the yellow cruiser called Fine Gem.
Once it had transferred all the passengers they were moved again on to the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI boat the John Rowntree which took them to the yacht station in Yarmouth - the baby falling asleep in transit.
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However, it was unable to reach the black and white cruiser and all 11 occupants had to be airlifted to safety by helicopter.
The drama unfolded at around 5am when Humber Coastguard were alerted to the emergency.
The operation involved Great Yarmouth and Gorleston RNLI, Hemsby Lifeboat, Everitt Marine Services and HM Coastguard.
The helicopter winched the passengers two people at a time, until six were on the helicopter, which then landed at the nearby rugby club field before returning to winch the remaining five people off the vessel.
Once all the people were lifted to safety, Hemsby Broads Rescue stood down and returned to station.
Mr Hurd said: "It was a great multi-agency effort with ourselves, Gorleston Coastguards, ILB and Rescue 912."