Portsmouth RNLI in two-hour search for broken down Chichester yacht

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THERE was drama in the Solent as a catamaran broke down and began drifting.

Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat launched at 2am to assist a 30ft catamaran with machinery failure in the eastern Solent but was unsure of its exact location.

On launch, Portsmouth lifeboat attempted to raise the vessel using VHF radio, but With batteries running low the catamaran was able to listen but unable to respond.

Solent Coastguard used Isle of Wight aerials to relay communication to the Lifeboat and narrow down the vessels position using landmarks, aerials and lights as references.

The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Norma T has direction finding equipment on board but without an initial signal or direct communication with the casualty vessel this couldn’t be used.

The catamaran had left Chichester Harbour five hours earlier but broke down after deciding to turn back, leaving the vessel unlit and adrift.

With a last estimated position south of the Isle of Wight, Bembridge lifeboat proceeded into Sandown Bay and found the 30ft catamaran adrift.

With the vessel safely under tow behind Bembridge lifeboat, Portsmouth lifeboat stood down and returned to station shortly before 4am.