Friday, 25 July 2008


Falling overboard is never a nice thing to do.

When you are 6 miles out to sea, sailing two handed and on a Gaff rigged cutter with huge amounts of rope, sail and rigging it's even worse.

The couple we went to assist last night were in just this situation. Anticipating a rising wind the skipper planned ahead and began to rig reefing lines on the booom to take in more sail prior to night-fall. One slightly larger than normal wave, a wet deck and a slip followed. Luckily he was wearing his lifeline so didn't get left behind the rapidly sailing yacht. Luckily his wife was efficient, capable and clear thinking.

She tried to help him onboard, this didn't work. She tied him alongside and sent a 'PanPan'. Soon every vessel in the area was on it's way, rescue 106 and us too. As we arrived on scene we heard the lady talking to rescue 106. There was little they could do with him strapped alongside so they suggested that she could cut him adrift and they could pick him out of the water. She considered this and suggested that as he was OK perhaps it would be best to wait for us!

Once on scene we put two crew onboard to asses the situation. Without further ado Gav and I hoisted the fellow onboard and began to asses his condition. Despite having been in the water for near to 45 minutes he seemed remarkably well. However he did have a head injury so we decided that the best course of action would be to get him onto the lifeboat and lift him off there to be taken to hospital. After a couple of runs in by the Mersey (and a slight collision) it was decided that a transfer was perhaps too risky given the relatively stable condition of the casualty.

We re-assessed the situation and decided to continue to sail the boat towards Poole, dry the casualty, get him warm and continue to monitor his condition. Before long we were enjoying a spanking sail in a lovely boat in superb conditions. Arriving in Poole was interesting as it was Thursday fireworks night and very busy on the marina and harbour. Luckily the lads from Poole lifeboat were in the boathouse so they cleared a bit of space for us and we soon had the boat alongside. An ambulance was waiting the check over the casualty and it seems as though he was fine thankfully.

A cup of coffee followed then home to bed...

(Apologies for the photo, there should be better on the station website)


Two rather complumentary quotes from the MCA...

Andy Jenkin, Watch Manager at Portland Coastguard said

"The man's wife deserves a great deal of praise for the calm way in
which she dealt with the emergency on their beautifully maintained
boat. They are clearly an experienced, competent couple and
throughout this rather frightening experience they maintained a
dialogue between the two of them on what they would do next. Harness
lines, radio, lifejackets, her competency using the radio, and the
calm way information was relayed. We couldn't ask for more from an
albeit surprised customer of the United Kingdom's search and rescue

"Our grateful thanks are also due to the Swanage RNLI lifeboat crew
for the extremely professional and sympathetic way they handled this
very unusual incident."

1 comment:

Mart said...

"Apologies for the photo, there should be better on the station website"

I actually really like the photo - it gives an idea of conditions, it has a real 'feel' to it.

Well done on another job well done.