THE former Tynemouth RNLI lifeboat Princess Alexandra of Kent has come to a sad end, wrecked on rocks on the Fife coast, with her crew rescued by volunteers from Anstruther RNLI lifeboat station.
The 54 year-old former Tynemouth lifeboat, now named Princess, converted to a cabin cruiser since she left RNLI service, was on the first leg of a passage from Royal Quays marina, North Shields, to the Isle of Man, via Peterhead, when she lost her steering at around 1am on the morning of August 1st.
Strong easterly winds and heavy seas blew the 27 ton, 52 foot wooden vessel onto the rocks near Crail, and the alarm was raised when the fluorescent markings of their lifejackets were seen from the shore by residents of the nearby caravan park.
Forth Coastguard requested the launch of Anstruther RNLI inshore and all-weather lifeboats and their volunteer crews battled gusting winds and heavy rain to reach the two men onboard the wrecked boat, who were found by the inshore lifeboat crew clinging to a railing on deck.
Anstruther lifeboat Second coxswain Alex Purves said: ''The men set off in daylight, but had a mechanical problem with the steering and they ran aground on the rocks.
''If we hadn't arrived when we did, the boat would have broken up and they would probably have ended up in the water.
''The men were on the top rail and contemplating jumping into the water, which would have been a very dangerous last resort because of the rocks.
20 RNLI lifeboat volunteers as well as Coastguard and ambulance crews were involved in the rescue.
The two men, believed to be from Liverpool, were on a leg of the journey from the Tyne to Peterhead.
A member of the lifeboat crew put the men up for the night before they set off for home the following day.
It is believed the Environment Agency arranged for a salvage company to remove the fuel from the vessel to avoid pollution but no attempt has been made to salvage the vessel since she was wrecked.
Princess Alexandra of Kent was a 52' Barnett class RNLI lifeboat, built of wood, and launched in 1958. She served at Torbay for 17 years, then as a relief lifeboat before serving at Tynemouth from 1979 to 1980. She was sold by the RNLI in 1983 and converted to a cabin cruiser, berthed on the Tyne at Davy Bank, then Royal Quays marina.
Thanks to Mr James Murray for the photograph of the wreck.