Wet and windy weather over the Easter holidays saw a number of lifeboat call-outs in the Solent.
Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) lifeboat crews were busy over the long holiday weekend, coming to the aid of five separate marine vessels in a three-day span as wet and windy weather hit the UK’s south coast.
The video above shows a point-of-view recording of a yacht rescue as GAFIRS volunteers responded to a pan-pan mayday call on Saturday 26 March.
The crew of a 37ft yacht got into trouble when they were unable to take the vessel’s engine out of forward gear leaving Portsmouth Harbour. The UK Coastguard tasked the independent GAFIRS crew to assist the yacht.
In the video, the GAFIRS crewmen battle choppy seas to reach the troubled yacht, before boarding. According to the group’s Facebook page: “The yacht had lost control of its engine which was stuck in full throttle, smoking and losing oil. Gosport Lifeboat put a crew member onboard and directed them to proceed back into the harbour, before taking them under tow and shutting down their engine. Towed into Gosport Marina, all safe and well.”
The incident was just one of several for the all-volunteer GAFIRS lifeboats over the holiday weekend. On Friday, 25 March, Solent Coastguard sent the Gosport lifeboat to a broken down vessel near Peel Wreck buoy, Isle of Wight.
Duty coxswain Pete Byford told the Portsmouth News: “The boat had three people on board. We took the vessel under tow and recovered it to Gosport Lifeboat Station. The crew were cold so we helped them warm up and gave them some safety advice.”
And the group were called into action a further three times on Sunday 27 March to aid a disabled yacht, a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) and finally to a yacht that had run up against a sea wall.
As they recounted on Facebook: “Busy day on Sunday for GAFIRS volunteers.
“11:40 whilst on watch at the station tasked by Solent Coastguard to a MAYDAY distress call. A 36ft yacht off Gilkicker, Gosport had suffered engine failure and was unable to sail, as head sail had blown out. The yacht was drifting and required urgent assistance.
“Gosport Lifeboat launched in gusting 48-knot winds and towed the stricken vessel to Haslar Marina.
“The 3 crew on board, from the Maidenhead area were all safe and well.
“At 13:55 we were tasked to a small RIB with engine failure drifting towards rocks near Portsmouth Harbour entrance, Gosport Lifeboat made best speed to the incident. The tug “Smit Stour” had picked the two men (aged 17 and 23) up and had their RIB alongside. Gosport Lifeboat transferred the two casualties and their Rib to the Camber slipway in Portsmouth.
“14:14 Gosport Lifeboat was re-tasked to a yacht, which had broken its moorings and was against the shore wall near Porchester. Gosport Lifeboat assisted the owners by towing the 24ft yacht away from the wall and securing at Port Solent Marina. Gosport Lifeboat then returned to station at 16:00 for wash down, refuelling and re housing.”
Storm Katie battered the UK on Sunday and Monday, bringing 60 mph wind gusts, knocking out power to more than 80,000 homes, felling trees and disrupting transport routes with heavy rainfall and localized flooding.
The Portsmouth Lifeboat Station also reported a number of boats in the area had broken free from moorings and the Selby Lifeboat Station suffered damage to its boathouse from the high winds and heavy rain.
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