A RESCUER has revealed the moment a fisherman was found in the sea after his boat sank - a year on from the tragedy that killed two men.

Mechanic Andy Bull was among the dozens of RNLI crews launched to search for the crew of the Joanna C when it capsized off the coast of Sussex last year.

Adam Harper, 26, and Robert Morley, 38, died when the boat went down in November 2020 - while the skipper was pulled out of the sea alive.

A year on from the tragedy, Mr Bull recalled the moment he found David Bickerstaff alive, clinging to a buoy in jeans and a T-shirt.

He said: "After a while of searching you start to question, are we in the right place, while still looking and trying to visualise anything in the water that could be relevant.

"Then it was like a double-take. I saw him and called out 'Starboard-side. There’s someone in the water'.

"He’d got a hand up waving and was holding onto the lifebuoy."

It comes after hundreds gathered to stage a vigil in the town's harbour last night to remember the pair lost in the tragedy, with friends and family laying candles and flowers at the memorial site.

The Argus: Tributes left for the crew of the Joanna CTributes left for the crew of the Joanna C

RNLI crews who took part in the major search and rescue mission last year were also among those to take part in the two minutes silence.

Crew member Jo Goode recalled checking over David once he had been pulled from the water.

He said: "It was all action then.

"The team got him out so quick. We got him secure in the wheelhouse.

"Nick helped him out of his wet gear and into a thermal woolly bear undersuit, while I checked his stats.

"His feet were so cold, but he didn’t need any intervention. He’d coped with the cold water incredibly well."

Navigator Nick Gentry added: "I was sat at the Nav table, following the boat on the chart plotting system, making sure we were covering the right track, when I heard it over the intercom, that there was someone in the water.

"It was the next part 'and they look okay' - that was an amazing feeling."

The body of 26-year-old Adam Harper was recovered by divers days later.

After the rescue mission was called off, hundreds of people gathered in Newhaven for a two-minute silence to send their thoughts to the friends and families affected.

A body brought from the sea at Bexhill in December was formally identified as missing Robert.

At the time, Mr Morley's former boss told The Argus that he was planning on quitting his life on the water in favour of a job on land.

Ian Bickerstaff said the loss of the fisherman, who was “like family” to him, had left “a big dent” in his life.

The fishmonger last saw the 38-year-old fisherman just a day before he set off on the trip when he was “full of beans”.

In March, hundreds gathered for his funeral which was led by a lone bagpiper from Fort Road to the site of the crew's memorial just 200 metres away.