The couple had a lucky escape when their yacht caught fire off Poole, forcing them to abandon the vessel. Watch the rescue operation here.

The skipper of the 31-foot yacht issued a Mayday call just after 6.30pm on 16 July, after smoke began pouring from the vessel’s engine room.

He them made a second call stating he could see flames and that he and his crew were “abandoning ship”.

The yacht, which had two people on board, was in the Swash Channel, the main channel outside of the entrance to Poole Harbour on the way to Old Harry Rocks.

Both the Poole RNLI lifeboats were launched. Other vessels in the area, including the Condor Liberation which was returning to Poole, also responded to the distress calls.

On arrival, the crew of the Poole inshore lifeboat found that the two people had been picked up by a passing motor boat.

They were both uninjured.

The RNLI established a cordon around the burning yacht, and moved vessels away from the area.

Poole all-weather lifeboat responds to burning yacht off Poole Harbour

The burning 31-foot yacht. Credit: Poole RNLI


The couple were transferred from the motorboat to the Poole inshore lifeboat.

They assisted the crew with assessing the situation, establishing how much fuel was on board and whether there were any gas bottles or other flammable substances on the yacht.

The fire was put out by the crew of the Poole all-weather lifeboat, who used a hose to douse the flames, while the yacht was drifting north east.

The inshore lifeboat stood by as a guard vessel.

Once the fire was out, the crew of the all-weather lifeboat secured the mast and rigging to the side of the yacht and began towing it back to Poole Yacht Club.

The couple were also taken to the club by the pilot boat, Vanguard, which was standing by.

On arrival, the burnt yacht was checked over by the fire brigade.

This was one of several call-outs for the Poole RNLI on 16 July, which also included assisting a yacht that had run aground at Middle Mud and towing a broken down 40-foot motor cruiser to the harbour.

Volunteer senior helmsman, Gavin McGuinness, said: “It was a very busy day and night where we had a variety of jobs. The boat on fire required immediate action, as it was hazard to shipping and it could have been an environmental issue, if it had gone down.”

He continued: “There were a lot of vessels in the area, who were also at risk if the fuel or canisters had gotten alight.”