Reporter: Colin Henrys
Date online: 03 June 2013
'Life before your eyes' moment for family in boat trip nightmare
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A Littleborough holiday-maker revealed the ‘terror’ his family experienced when their first trip away saw them rescued from a sinking boat off the Pembrokeshire coast.
Dan Snook, 40, from Littleborough, was visiting the South Welsh coast with his wife Rebecca, also 40, their seven-year-old twin daughters and Rebecca’s parents Martin and Hilary Wellock, of Milnrow.
Their trip took a dangerous turn for the worse when they found themselves aboard the Lady Helen as the boat ran aground on rocks after visiting the popular Skomer Island.
Dan admitted it was a heart-stopping moment as their boat – with 48 people passengers on board – threatened to capsize in choppy water.
“We were pretty much done and we were on our way back but we came to a channel of water that was really rough,” he explained. “You could see it was very fast-flowing.
“We didn’t know this at the time, but apparently it was really low tide – at its absolute lowest. You could see rocks sticking out of the water.
“As we were going along there was suddenly a huge crunch. I knew we had hit a rock and it spun us around and the boat started to list quite badly.
“Everyone was holding on, we just about managed but it was a couple of minutes before we stopped rocking.”
Dan, who said until they hit the channel of water in question the sea had been typically still, said passengers stayed very calm despite their predicament.
“Everyone on the boat was actually pretty calm,” he said. “The kids were pretty hysterical but the rest of the passengers – the adults – were really quite calm.”
With the crew trying, unsuccessfully, to shift the boat off the rock, Dan and his fellow passengers donned life jackets as other boats in the area responded to the mayday call.
With many of the women and children and a few male passengers, including Dan, taken onto the other boats, one rescue boat managed, inadvertently, to push the Lady Helen off its rock.
However, with a hole in its hull it began to take on water and the remaining passengers, including the Wellocks, had to be evacuated from the sinking boat.
Fortunately, all 48 passengers were unharmed and the family were able to enjoy the rest of their trip, but Dan admitted the incident had been alarming.
“No one was injured fortunately. By that point everyone was fine but it was proper terror at the time,” he said.
“It was a proper life before your eyes moment.
“It’s one of those things that you hear about, but it happens to someone else. You don’t think it would happen to you.”
St David's lifeboat 'Norah Wortley' and Angle lifeboat 'Mark Mason' called to the mayday of the Lady Helen at Skomer Island
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