Warning to boat owners after rower rescued

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BOAT owners have been warned of the dangers of venturing out on the water in high winds after a man was thrown out of his dinghy in Portsmouth Harbour.

Despite the appalling weather conditions yesterday morning – with strong gales reaching 66 knots in the driving rain – the man decided to row out against wind and was tossed overboard.

The coastguard, the Ministry of Defence police launch boat and a Hampshire police rib were scrambled to the rescue at 11.30am after a concerned member of a local sailing club raised the alarm.

The emergency caller had lost sight of the small, dark dinghy out in the harbour and was concerned for the welfare of the rower.

After a short search, the police rib found the man lying on a mud flat. His overturned dinghy was located nearby.

A Solent Coastguard helicopter took the casualty to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, where he was diagnosed with hypothermia.

The man was said to be in a stable condition last night.

Solent Coastguard watch manager David Williams said: ‘We now know that this rower was in transit to or from his yacht in his dinghy.

‘This is often a hazardous task and not something that we would recommend in such harsh weather conditions.’

Mr Williams said the man could have drowned, adding: ‘His lifejacket will have contributed to saving his life by allowing him to get to the sandbank where he was found.’