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Old 26 September 2005, 09:55   #1
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Country: UK - England
Town: Torquay
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Taken from the local paper here

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Three divers from Bristol had that sinking feeling when their van, trailer and boat took a premature dip in the sea at Brixham over the weekend.

Their "three-piece" slid down the breakwater slipway and into the water after a suspected handbrake failure at high tide on Saturday morning. Strollers gasped in amazement as the nose of the large Transit van dipped under the waves after its short roll down the concrete slope.

The whole bulk was spared the complete vanishing act thanks to the buoyancy of the rigid inflatable on the trailer.

But the boat still didn't stop the whole combination floating at least 40ft out into the harbour, a spectacle caught on film by bemused spectators on dry land armed with cameras.

Fortunately lifeboatmen Mark Criddle and Barry Pike were able to use their rescue expertise to save the soaked shipment from further maritime mischief.

The pair, using the lifeboat boarding boat, managed to engineer the wreck's safe return to the slipway where it was hauled up out of the water.

Mark, the second coxswain, said: "It did sail out, but the boat kept the back of the van afloat. It was half in and half out of the water.

"We managed to get some water out of the van. We also noticed the handbrake was on when we got inside."

Eye witness Pete Vickery, from Brixham, said: "We didn't know at the time whether anyone was in the van when it moved.

"But we soon found that the three men with the vehicle were in the marina office. Nobody could stop the van going down into the water.

"Lots of people were taking pictures. It was quite a sight.

"The van was probably a write-off."
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