Burnham-On-Sea Trainee Lifeboat Helmsman Nathan Meager didn’t expect to be putting his RNLI skills to use during the Transatlantic Tall Ships Race – but that’s what happened.

Nathan and 22 other crew were onboard the vessel ‘Rona II’ and were making their way under engine to the start line in the Atlantic for the race from Halifax Nova Scotia in Canada to Le Havre in France.

As they were proceeding they passed one of their competitors barely making way. After throwing them a Rona II t-shirt and wrist bands as gifts they discovered the boat didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the start line and were trying to sail in very little wind.

After a quick fuel calculation onboard Rona II, a tow was offered to the vessel called ‘Peter Van Danzig’. Nathan was able to use his RNLI towing knowledge to help rig a secure tow and set up the correct day shapes in Rona II’s rigging to indicate that a tow was being conducted.

After many hours, a larger vessel which was also participating in the race took over the tow as they had a greater fuel reserve and were able to make better speed.

Nathan told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I was told by a previous competitor in the race that we probably wouldn’t see another vessel the whole way across the Atlantic, so to see a couple of boats and to have to put my RNLI helmsman training to use was quite a surprise!”!

Lifeboat Operations Manager Matt Davies added: “We are proud of Nathan and his achievement, and his dedication helps to demonstrate the high calibre of our volunteers.”

Nathan has volunteered for over 17 years with the Rona Sailing Project, an initiative that helps develop young people from all walks of life and abilities, by positively changing their lives.

Operating three custom-built sail training yachts, the project runs sail training voyages for people aged between 14-25 usually around Europe and the UK, but every 8-10 years the fleet goes transatlantic – and Nathan took part in this year’s challenge.

Nathan was given the responsibility for organising all the food and logistics for a 154-day adventure for 23 people across numerous countries and over six legs.

Nathan with the team at the end of the sailing challenge

Nathan saw these super dolphins following their boat, photo: Milo Mulvagh