Cowes RNLI Lifeboat Station

Sinking Yacht Sparks Major Solent Emergency

11th November 2019

A major Solent emergency involving a sinking yacht led to Cowes RNLI lifeboat joining a number of vessels racing to its aid just after mid-day today.

The 40 foot yacht, with three Swiss men on board, had lost its rudder and was taking on water after it apparently snagged the anchor chain of No 2 buoy at the entrance of Cowes Harbour.

As the yacht began drifting westwards, all the time becoming more waterlogged, to its aid raced the lifeboat, together with a River Medina-based crew transport vessel, Calshot RNLI lifeboat, a police launch, a Cowes Harbour launch, and a catamaran and two car ferries belonging to Red Funnel.

Two of the yacht’s crew were quickly taken off by the crew transport craft. The yacht was boarded by two of the Cowes lifeboat crew with a salvage pump, but they found there was just too much water to be effective, having by then reached as high as the yacht’s chart table.

As it was clear the yacht would eventually sink, everyone was taken off the craft, and Cowes Harbour released a tow line to take the yacht further away from the shipping lane. The sinking finally occurred off Gurnard, leaving just part of the mast above the water. A marker buoy was put in place by the Cowes Harbour launch, as a warning to other vessels.

The yacht had been on passage from Portsmouth to Cowes when the incident occurred.