Eendracht bites the dust at Tidemills

By Laurie Stonehouse and Andy Gilbert

A crowd of onlookers gather on Eastside Beach to witness the rescue of a fairly large sailing vessel. The first picture shows the tow rope attached to the ship, and in the second photograph it appears that the Lifeboat is attempting to free the ship. The final pictures show that the Lifeboat is further away, with the Meeching Tug trying to pull the yacht off the beach and back to freedom.

This is the incident of the Dutch sail training ship Eendracht, which suffered engine failure and ran aground on the beach after leaving harbour in a force 8 gale on October 21, 1998. Two helicopters were scrambled from the Coastguard stations at Lee on Solent and Portland after initial attempts by the Meeching Tug and the lifeboat to tow the ship off the beach had failed. All 51 people on board were winched off by the helicopters as it was deemed far too dangerous to leave them onboard. No one was injured, though some of the crew did suffer from the cold, shock and sea sickness.

Eendracht was towed off on the next high tide and returned to Newhaven to undergo repairs

Photo:Eendract beached at Tidemills - 1998

Eendract beached at Tidemills - 1998

Vicky Delaney

Photo:Lifeboat to the rescue

Lifeboat to the rescue

Vicky Delaney

Photo:Attempting to tow the Eendract free

Attempting to tow the Eendract free

Vicky Delaney

Photo:Meeching Tug assisting the Eendract - 1998

Meeching Tug assisting the Eendract - 1998

Private collection of Andy Gilbert

This page was added by Laurie Stonehouse on 06/05/2009.
Comments about this page

Sorry but I beg to differ with your comment that "Eendracht was towed off on the next high tide and returned to Newhaven to undergo repairs", if my memory serves me correctly, it took at least three days before excavators managed to remove enough shingle from around the boat to enable a German or Dutch rescue tug to tow her off. I seem to remember that the Tug made two attempts to tow the Eendracht off, the first a failure because the tow rope snapped, but when it did succeed, they both then hightailed it eastwards up channel. I also understand that because it was believed that the Eendracht was coming back into Newhaven a Newhaven RNLI person was still on board when the boat went Eastwards instead. Can anyone else confirm this please.

You may well be right, Richard. The official MCA report, which I tried to find, is no longer on line, and two unofficial on line reports disagree with each other. I went with the one that said 'next day' but the other said it took three! - Andy Gilbert

By Richard Beckett
On 09/05/2009

On that morning I was team leader on the shore gang for Stena Line. We came on shift to find out that the fast craft sailings had been cancelled. I was on my way to see the Captain [Steve?] to find out his requirements for the day, when he radioed me to say he could not believe his eyes - a sailing ship was going to sea. I went straight to the East Quay to have a look and by that time she was in trouble and I think she picked a net up in her props. I called my team down to the beach to see if we could help. The pilot boat was first on the scene, followed by the lifeboat and the tug. The Coastguard came down to the beach and tried to get a line aboard. The helicopter seemed to turn up very quickly and it was lucky it did. We were amazed when we found out how many people were onboard including some disabled crew. It was decided to winch people off but the helicopter could not carry that many. It was then decided to do it in batches and to land them on the beach. Because it was so cold and wet we decided to get the buffet on standby, and I got my team to get the Stena buses up to ferry the crew back to the buffet a bit later on. East Sussex emergency services backed us up with a soup kitchen. Thankfully all went well although I was asked at the time who was going to pay the buffet bill. My reply was to take it out off my wages! Stena Line did pay the tab, thank heavens!

By sparks
On 09/05/2009

After seeing these pictures I would recommend interested parties seeing damage repairs carried out to former Newhaven RNLI,lifeboat 'Keith Anderson' which came a little to close to this vessel while giving assistance (See 'Lifeboat repairs, Arun Class, Keith Anderson' in the Lifeboat section) during attempting the refloat of the 'Eendracht', which caused an interesting few days on Tidemills beach at this time .

By Chris Young
On 09/05/2009

Richard is correct the Eendracht was stranded for 3 days and was towed off by the Tug Lady Hammond, with the assistance of the 2 Diggers, who I think were the main saviours, they dug away most of the beach at some risk to themselves. Mick Thorpe Auxillary Coastguard volunteered to go aboard as a communication link to be taken off when she was afloat but once she was afloat they just kept heading east and eventually they put him ashore at Dover. The first 33 persons were rescued in pairs by the Solent Coastguard Rescue Helicopter India Juliet, then when she was running low on fuel they brought in the Portland Coastguard Helicopter Rescue Hotel Lima to rescue the remainder in total there were 51 rescued. The Eendracht did sustain damage to her Port side, 20 metres of hull and 5 ribs plus the propeller were replaced which took 8 weeks. Dave Riggs

By Dave Riggs, (retired Auxiliary Coastguard)
On 10/10/2011

Two auxiliary Coastguards were assigned to guard and observe the ship for the following two nights. Gary English and myself. The first night was very rough with the tide hitting the ship really hard and making loud booming noises. It was amazing the amount of people that came down to look really late at night, early morning. The whole 3 days is something I will never forget.

By Mark Kite
On 17/07/2021

re: last comment from Mark Kite. It made me smile when he says he was amazed the amount of people who came to "look" late at night. The Seaford Wreckers spirit is alive and well it would seem.

By RobPatten
On 20/07/2021

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