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

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.

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.

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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