Fleetwood RNLI crew's surprise after retrieving empty boat

James Walker and Phil Smith, with their boat My Girls
James Walker and Phil Smith, with their boat My Girls

Volunteers from Fleetwood RNLI were told an unexpected tale after being called out to a small boat adrift in Morecambe Bay.

After towing the rowing boat, My Girls, back to safety in Fleetwood, the crew put out an appeal on their Facebook site to trace its owners.

Among the messages was one from the owner himself , who told them his boat had been missing for a while - in fact it had been lost two years ago.

Lancaster man Phil Smith, co-owner of My Girls, said he was delighted - and surprised - to get the vessel back after such a long time.

For the LIfeboat crew, there was also relief that were no casualties.

Phil said: "We never thought we’d see My Girls again.

"She’s in remarkably good condition all things considered and it looks like it was probably aground on the marshes for some time, we're delighted to get her back."

The boat was first spotted by merchant ships sailing out of Heysham on Saturday August 3, and UK Coastguard requested that the Fleetwood Lifeboat crew launch to the small vessel.

The crew of the D-class in-shore lifeboat, Mary Elizabeth Barnes, discovered the boat was empty and it appeared that nobody had been on board for some time.

The name on the back of the boat was practically illegible, so there was no easy way of discovering who the owner was.

Fleetwood RNLI press officer, Ken Harcombe said: "We put out an appeal on our Facebook page, complete with photograph.

"Amongst the messages was one from James Walker, from Lancaster. who recognised the boat from the photo and informed us that it had been lost nearly two years ago, from Sunderland Point."

"He said they could confirm it was his boat, by the unusual butt ended scarf joints and the name My Girls on the back."

James and Phil collected the boat from Fleetwood RNLI and told them they’d moored up at Sunderland Point after salmon fishing, in the summer of 2017.

The boat must have broke free from its mooring and James and Phil assumed it had sunk.

Ken Harcombe from Fleetwood RNLI added: " ‘The power of social media never fails to impress me.

"I honestly thought we’d never discover the rightful owner, but we were delighted to hand it back to them.

"We can’t thank our supporters enough for helping us reunite My Girls back with their owner."