LIFEBOAT crews rescued two men as their boat sank on Thursday (August 17) in the Bristol Channel off Hinkley Point.

The cabin cruiser had left Watchet Harbour on its way to Portishead early Thursday morning when it began taking on water.

The boat’s skipper, Damian Selim, thanked the lifeboat crews for saving him and his colleague.

Mr Selim said: “Both our bilge pumps were working, it was just that the water ingress became too much as the sea state changed quickly.”

He put out an emergency ‘Mayday’ call at about 7.30 am which was picked up by Milford Haven Coastguard control and passed to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).

Two fast response lifeboats were launched from Burnham on Sea and from Barry Dock, in Wales to intercept the vessel near Hinkley Point, while an HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Penarth, Wales, was scrambled.

HM Coastguard demonstration video.

Other vessels responded the ‘Mayday’ signal and also made their way toward the sinking vessel.

The 48 ft converted trawler’s engine room was found to be taking on water and boat’s pumps were not sufficiently working.

The Burnham lifeboat crew put a salvage pump aboard to try to save the vessel but it could not remove the water quickly enough and the boat continued settling lower in the water.

On arrival of the Barry lifeboat the two crew members were taken off the vessel while the RNLI volunteers continued to pump out water to try to save it.

However, all attempts failed and it was abandoned while the lifeboat crews watched over it until it sank.

A RNLI spokesman said: “A lifeboat crew member was landed on the vessel, along with the lifeboat salvage pump, as the craft’s engine room was still taking on water.

“The salvage pump was not making headway and the craft was settling lower in the water.

“By this time, Barry Dock lifeboat had arrived on scene and the two casualty crew had been taken off while efforts continued to reduce the level of water in the engine room.

“The measures were not effective and the vessel by this time was not towable, sinking lower in the water.

“The Burnham crew member was taken off along with the salvage pump and Barry Dock made arrangements to watch over the vessel until it sank completely.”

The two rescued sailors were suffering from the cold and were transferred from Barry Dock to the Burnham lifeboat and taken to Burnham on Sea for medical care.