The RNLI'S Portsmouth lifeboat saw its first launch of the year last night as it braved heavy rain and rough seas to rescue a 20-ton fishing boat.
The Portsmouth-based Atlantic 85 lifeboat was launched just after 7pm last night to help a 10-metre fishing boat that had broken down in force eight to nine winds.
The lifeboat travelled through rough seas and took about 10 minutes to get to the fishing boat, stranded near Horse Sand Fort.
Helmsman Gareth Roberts had to keep powering the lifeboat on and off to stop the stern being overpowered by three-metre waves.
He got the vessel under tow and started to pull the stricken vessel back to Langstone Harbour. But after 45 minutes of slow progress the towline snapped, leaving the boat adrift.
The Atlantic's crew recovered the line and told the fishing vessel to drop anchor. They then called in the larger All Weather Lifeboat from neighbouring RNLI Bembridge.
Bembridge crews arrived shortly after 8pm in their Tamar class lifeboat, named Alfred Albert Williams. They towed the boat back to Camber Dock at Portsmouth Harbour.
RNLI Bembridge took nearly an hour to complete the remaining journey and moored the fishing vessel safely within the sheltered Camber Docks.
They were met by units from Portsmouth Coastguard and the three people on board were able to disembark and warm up in a waiting vehicle.
Mr Roberts said: 'Everyone worked well and the training really showed.'