Lyme Regis lifeboat crew praise after rescue of deaf sailor

Lifeboat crew member Rich Tilley with fisherman Justin Paull

LYME Regis lifeboat crew rescued a deaf sailor who came into trouble but was unable to use his boat radio as he has no voice. 

The volunteer RNLI crew have been praised by the family of Justin Paull, aged 52, from Bridport, following his rescue on Thursday, May 5.

He was eight miles west of Wyke Regis when his five-metre fishing boat, Sally Ann, suffered engine failure.

Justin was able to text the word ‘emergency’ to his sister, Janine Paull-Sellick who made a video call in British Sign Language (BSL) so that Justin could explain that both his main engine and his spare had failed.

Janine called the coastguard to explain the situation, and they alerted the RNLI volunteers in Lyme Regis.

Lifeboat crew member Rich Tilley boarded Justin’s boat and, using white marker boards and a pen, wrote questions and drew diagrams telling Justin what was happening.

“We had been briefed about Justin before launching,” said Rich, “so I thought we should take the boards to write messages for him.

“I wrote questions such ‘are you fit and well?’ and explained how we were going to tow his boat for about an hour to the safety of West Bay harbour.

“He was pleased to see us and even took a selfie with me!”

Justin’s sister, Janine said: “I can’t find words enough to thank the lifeboat crew. They were just brilliant.

“From a young age Justin found a love for the sea. It has always been his meditation, his place to go to switch off from the world and his daily challenges.

“He has never feared the ocean, just loved it. However, as his loved ones, we have always worried about it. But nevertheless we support his passion for the sea.

“He has all the up to date technology and takes every safety measure. He always lets the family know when he is going out on his boat and when he will arrive back.

“And the harbourmaster and his team always keep an eye out for him. He has amazing support from the community.”

Justin, who is chairman of Bridport Deaf Club, made a video in sign language explaining his problems.

He signed: “I went to use my second engine but the bracket failed and snapped and the engine fell into the sea. I had a huge struggle to get it back.

“I cannot believe it. It is the first time in my life that this has happened. I am in shock, it’s terrible, my boat is well prepared for emergencies, but the emergency back-up has failed.”

The rescue operation began at 12.40pm when the lifeboat was launched. After towing Justin’s boat into West Bay harbour the lifeboat crew returned to Lyme Regis at 3.15pm

The rescue, which happened in the middle of Deaf Awareness Week, was the ninth emergency call answered by the Lyme Regis lifeboat volunteers so far this year.

Justin and his sister Janine (centre) met with members of the lifeboat crew after the rescue and made a generous donation to the RNLI. They are waving their hands which is a known reaction to photographs by those with hearing impairments who use British Sign Language
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