The overboard skipper was at risk of being hit by the engine’s propellers as it continued unhelmed

A fisherman rammed his

vessel into an out-of-control yacht in order to save an overboard skipper from its

engine propellers in choppy seas.

The incident, which

happened on 14 November, saw the sailor of a 21ft yacht thrown overboard in

breaking seas as he tried to cross the bar at the entrance to Christchurch

harbour.

Fisherman and RNLI

volunteer Pete Dadds spotted the sailor in trouble and intervened in order to

prevent him from being hit by the yacht’s engine propellers.

An RNLI spokesperson

said: “The yacht was picked up by breaking seas and was violently rolling when

the lone sailor was thrown from the yacht.

“The fishing vessel Déjà vu went straight over to

investigate and found the sailor hanging on to a rope at the back of the

vessel, being towed around in circles into the breaking sea.”

In order to be picked up

by the fishing boat, the sailor had to let go of the rope, but the unmanned

yacht was still in gear and began making its way back towards him.

Mr Dadds was left with

no option but to ram the yacht as the overboard man was going under his boat

towards the propeller.

Another crew member

from Déjà vu jumped aboard the yacht

and tried and turn off the engine while Mr Dadds grabbed hold of the sailor who

was struggling to stay conscious and afloat.

“The fishing vessel

started drifting into the breaking seas which made it impossible to pull the

sailor on boars. Pete radioed the coastguard asking for urgent assistance to

assist in getting the sailor aboard and the yacht back into the harbour”, added

the spokesperson.

Mudeford RNLI were on

the scene shortly after and helped get the sailor on to the fishing vessel

before he was transferred to hospital and treated for hypothermia.

The lifeboat managed

to retrieve the yacht and towed it back into Christchurch harbour and put it

onto moorings.

Mudeford

lifeboat operations manager Richard Stride told the Bournemouth Echo: “The

sailor was exceedingly fortunate that the fishing vessel was in the vicinity

and that the skipper was extremely competent and knew what to do in the

seriousness of the situation.

“The chances

of the sailor surviving more than a couple of minutes without intervention were

very low.

“The

incident illustrates how dangerous and unpredictable the sea can be and the

value of having and wearing all the correct safety equipment.”

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