A 12-foot wooden sailing dinghy, which was found drifting off Portsmouth Harbour with no one on board, has been recovered by GAFIRS

A mysterious unmanned sailing dinghy has been towed to shore after it was spotted adrift in the approaches to Portsmouth Harbour.

The Gosport & Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) was called by UK Coastguard at 8am yesterday (2 August) following reports of a 12-foot wooden sailing dinghy drifting outside the Portsmouth harbour entrance.

GAFIRS’ smaller inshore lifeboat was launched and located the dinghy north of Spitbank Fort, just outside the main shipping channel.

A decision was made to tow it to shore but rough seas made it a tricky operation.

A wooden boat being towed by an inshore lifeboat off Portsmouth Harbour

The dinghy under tow. Credit: GAFIRS

GAFIRS ILB coxswain, Chris Newbrook, said: “The craft was on a course to drift into the paths of the large vessels entering and exiting the harbour. We quickly placed it under a stern tow and then headed towards the sheltered waters in Portsmouth.”

“As we entered the harbour, the rough seas and wake from ferries swamped the boat and it began to sink. My crew and I managed to right the craft using a little more speed to drain the water and we took it safely to Hardway,” he explained.

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Hillhead Coastguard Rescue Team met GAFIRS at the Hardway Sailing Club and helped recover the dinghy.

It is believed the boat may have slipped its mooring at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.

The UK Coastguard is attempting to trace the owner.

Lifeboat men bring a wooden dinghy to shore

The wooden dinghy is brought ashore. Credit: GAFIRS

On Tuesday (1 August), GAFIRS was called out twice.

The first shout came at just before 8am to investigate a carrier broadcasting on the emergency distress VHF channel 16.

Gosport independent lifeboat attempted to locate the carrier using directional finding equipment on board, but it stopped not long after launch.

The volunteer crews launched again at 6pm to assist with a search for a vulnerable missing person.

After a four-hour coastline search, the missing person was found by police safe and well.