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March Hare

Deja vu The duo that rescued the lives of four people on the yacht Headstrong are making a habit of saving lives in outstanding services Dave Milford and Sean Marshall have been awarded the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum for their role in the rescue of a lone skipper on 9 June 2002, just 19 days after the medal-winning rescue of Headstrong.

It was late at night when the City of Plymouth launched to help the 6.5m yacht the March Hare. With winds gusting up to gale force 9 and waves of up to 6m, the journey was physically demanding even with all the crew seated and strapped in. Theyreached the casualty just after midnight. The yacht Marc/? Hare was in a bad way. With its engine jammed it was pitching heavily and rolling through at least 50 degrees. With the searchlight the crew spotted the skipper as he looked out of the main hatch to signal he was there. The lifeboat drew close to the yacht and the crew reassured the skipper that they would put a lifeboatman on board to help.

David and Sean knew what had to be done. As with the rescue of Headstrong, the coxswain would pull alongside the yacht and Sean would jump onto the vessel. The manoeuvre went well and Sean jumped safely onto the March Hare. Then David made another expertly judged approach the yacht again to throw a drogue to Sean.

'Dave and I have worked together for so long that we almost have a sixth sense.' Sean Marshall On board the March Hare Sean had a lot of work to do to prepare the yacht for a tow.

With the yacht pitching and rolling wildly, Sean clipped on his safety line whenever possible. He used his sailing knowledge to furl the sail and secure it. He noticed that the mast was in danger of collapse and was looking for a rope to secure it when a huge wave hit the boat. As Sean grabbed hold of the mast, the wave broke over him. He managed to hold on, but the wave had inflated his lifejacket. So David took the City of Plymouth close to the casualty again, to throw Sean a replacement lifejacket and Sean got back to work, Sean did all he could to stabilise the yacht and was then ready to receive the tow. Two hours after launching, the tow line was secured and the tow commenced. David then had the near impossible task of maintaining a safe speed for the casualty, but providing enough power to make headway in the large seas. Both boats rolled violently during the tow, but a speed of 2-4 knots was maintained. After a gruelling tow of over four hours, March Hare reached the safety of Sutton Harbour. Simon Pryce, divisional inspector (South) commented on the good teamwork of the whole crew. He praised Sean's 'courage' and commented that David's boathandling was excellent: 'It is a measure of his skill that nobody was hurt.'.