Sailor dragged onto rescue craft's propeller after dinghies capsize in Solent

Two casualties cling to an upturned dinghy. Picture: RNLI/Brittany Jones
Two casualties cling to an upturned dinghy. Picture: RNLI/Brittany Jones
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RNLI volunteers gave a sailor first aid at sea when he was sucked onto the propeller of a cruiser in a Solent rescue drama.

The man in his 40s was taken to hospital after a day out sailing turned to disaster at the mouth of Langstone Harbour..

The RNLI lifeboat approaches the cruiser that came to the rescue Picture: RNLI/Brittany Jones

The RNLI lifeboat approaches the cruiser that came to the rescue Picture: RNLI/Brittany Jones

He was among a group of adults in vintage dinghies enjoying a sailing trip out of Chichester when a sudden gust capsized one of the vessels.

Its occupants were unable to right it and friends trying to assist from a second dinghy also capsized, leaving all four people in the water, swimming against a fast outgoing tide.

Both Portsmouth RNLI lifeboats were launched when the alarm was raised with Solent Coastguard yesterday afternoon. With some volunteers still on station after a day's training they immediately rushed out to the scene.

They plucked to safety two near-hypothermic casualties who had been clinging to their upturned dinghy for almost half an hour.

RNLI spokesman Aaron Gent said: 'We found the other two on the rear swim deck of a passing powered vessel.

'Seeing them drifting further out into the Solent, the passing cruiser attempted to assist but inadvertently injured one of the gentleman when his leg went under the rear swim deck and contacted the spinning propeller.

'He had been climbing out of the sea when, much as happens when you try to pull yourself out of a swimming pool, his legs were pulled by the water. One was hit by the propeller and he suffered a nasty wound about five inches long.'

The occupants of the cruiser had applied pressure to the man's wound until the RNLI lifeboat arrived and volunteers were able to administer first aid.

Mr Gent said: 'Not knowing the extent of his injury, Portsmouth first aiders Brittany Jones and Kim Dugan boarded the motor vessel and assessed the gentleman fully before dressing the wound and transferring him to the Atlantic 85 Lifeboat before rushing them all back to shore and a waiting ambulance. The injured gentleman was initially treated in the ambulance but on further assessment was taken off to Hospital for further checks

'The other three soaking wet casualties were taken directly to hot drinks, warm showers and dry clothes at the lifeboat station where they could be monitored by volunteer RNLI crew and an attending paramedic.'

A third dinghy capsized during the incident but its crew were able to right it and return to shore.

While the crew of the Atlantic Lifeboat looked after the casualties, Portsmouth's D-Class Lifeboat Brian’s Pride was directed to recover one swamped drifting dinghy, with local Independent Portsea Rescue's jet ski tending to the second.

Mr Gent said: 'Both casualty vessels were semi-submerged meaning the lifeboats had to battle a fast flowing outgoing tide for nearly an hour to reach the nearest Hayling beach, with such a weight the D-class Lifeboat reported an average speed of 2 knots over ground (approx. 1-1.5mph).

'Greeted by a local UK coastguard rescue unit as well as friends of the capsized crew the lifeboat was able to return out of the harbour to assist Portsea rescue with the second, since up righted, sailing dinghy.'