When Watchkeepers saw a sailing dinghy launching into force 6 southwesterly winds on Sunday afternoon (19th March 2017) they immediately rated it as very vulnerable and mounted a continuous watch. Within minutes the dinghy capsized a cable or two northwest of the tower. The two people onboard managed to right the dinghy, only for it to capsize again and again. While the helm swam to the boats bow, the crew became separated from the boat which, on its side was blowing rapidly downwind and away.
This was clearly a very serious situation and the Watchleader immediately phoned HMCG. While the Coast Guard was being informed, a trainee Watchkeeper suggested using the megaphone to try to attract the attention of a rib which was some distance away towards Fawley Power Station. Eventually this action was successful and, in heading towards the capsized dinghy, the rib crew spotted and rescued the isolated crew member from the water, who was brought back to shore.
The rib (left in photo) then proceeded to the casualty which was being blown across the shipping lane. It and another rib, which had responded to a CG “all ships” call on channel 16, stood by the capsized dinghy while the dinghy helm managed to lower its sails and bring it upright. With a Redjet approaching Calshot NCI radioed VTS to warn of the incident which by then was near Reach buoy.
By now the Calshot IRB had been launched and, having quickly arrived on scene, took control of the situation. The casualty was taken in tow and brought it back to Calshot.
After the incident Solent Coastguard phoned Calshot Tower to say that both members of the dinghy crew had survived unharmed and to thank NCI for their help.
A potentially life-threatening situation had come to a satisfactory conclusion and all had happened in not much more than half an hour