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Sena Sioria Rescue

On 29th August 1992 at 23:50hrs the SWA slipped its moorings to go to the aid of a 23ft yacht “Whiskey Mac", reportedly in difficulties North East of Guernsey.


The wind was SSW force 7, creating very rough seas and poor visibility. Shortly after 00:40hrs a very broken MAYDAY message was received from the 50ft yacht “Sena Sioria” some 20 miles NW of the Hanois lighthouse on the south western tip of Guernsey.

The SWA was tasked to proceed to the Sena Sioria at about 01:00hrs whilst the Alderney lifeboat dealt with “Whiskey Mac”. The wind was now south westerly force 7 to 8 gusting to force 9, against a four knot tide, creating very rough conditions. The lifeboat managed to obtain a bearing on the radio signal through its direction finding equipment and arrived on scene 15 minutes later.


The yacht was beam onto the wind and rolling violently in a very rough sea, 12-16ft swells and breaking crests. The coxswain Peter BISSON decided that the conditions were so bad, air lifting the casualties wasn’t safe. The lifeboat made three runs into take off six of the yachts crew. On the third run in, the mizzen mast fell onto the lifeboat injuring two of the lifeboat crew.

The helicopter arrived on scene and began to airlift two of the injured lifeboat crew in extremely hazardous conditions. With the lifeboat moving violently backwards and forwards, this manoeuvre took a full hour to complete. The helicopter winchman with a crew member in a stretcher were suddenly left hanging as the lifeboat dropped 15ft into a trough. The winchman somersaulted over the guard rail, whilst the stretcher with crew member in was flung into the air and slammed against the lifeboat as it rose again on the next wave. Eventually, all three remaining survivors were air lifted and flown to Guernsey whilst the lifeboat began her slow journey back to St Peter Port.

For this service the Coxswain Peter Bisson received the Silver Medal for Gallantry and the crew – Thanks of the Institution on Vellum.

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