The fisherman who was evacuated at sea by a lifeboat last week has exclusively told the Lynn News of his distressing ordeal after falling ill.
Forty-year-old Lee Branham, of Wallflower Lane, West Lynn, revealed the coastguard service alerted the Hunstanton lifeboat after hearing that he was coughing up blood and had stomach ulcer problems – not the winter vomiting bug, as previously reported.
He called 999 on his mobile phone from the Lynn Princess shrimp boat in The Wash around midnight last Thursday and described his symptoms to a paramedic.
Mr Branham recalled: “Straight away he said ‘I will have to get you off the boat because if the stomach ulcer bursts it can poison you and possibly kill you’.”
He had been feeling “wretched” that night and was grateful to the lifeboat crew for turning out in the snow to get him back safely.
One of just two crew on the Lynn Princess, he told the skipper that he had an upset stomach as they headed out along the Lynn Channel on Thursday night’s high tide for a 12-hour fishing stint.
Mr Branham, who has been on the boats for about two months but is now out of work, started to be sick in a bowl and noticed that he was bringing up blood as well, so he phoned the emergency services.
Hunstanton’s Spirit of West Norfolk lifeboat was launched at 12.18am on Friday, in freezing temperatures, snow showers and a 20-knot wind, to meet up with the fishing boat. When they got back to the lifeboat station, at 1.05am, he said: “They tested me and I was close to hypothermia so they put blankets on me to warm me up.”
An ambulance took him to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where a doctor told him his stomach ulcer had been playing up. Mr Branham said: “It was weeping but had not burst.”
He was given pain-killing and anti-sickness medication and remained in hospital until the early hours of Saturday.
He said: “I’m still on medication to stop the acid from the ulcer having a harmful effect.”