Family member loses contact with boat off Hengistbury Head, prompting major search by Mudeford and Yarmouth RNLI and coastguard teams
A MAJOR night time air and sea search was carried out to find a missing sailing vessel last seen about a mile off Hengistbury Head.
Mudeford RNLI initially launched in response to a call-out around 8.50pm last Friday from a relative of the single person on board the 22ft boat after they lost contact with it.
The craft had been travelling from Poole to Chichester when the alarm was raised.
Reaching the vicinity of the last known position shortly after 9pm, the lifeboat launched an extensive west to east search from Christchurch Bay to Poole Bay.
In fading light but good weather conditions, the crew was assisted by counterparts from Yarmouth, as well as Southbourne Coastguard’s rescue team and a coastguard helicopter.
Brief audio contact with the missing vessel around 9.50pm confirmed the casualty could not identify his location, so the search area was extended further east.
After nearly two hours, Yarmouth RNLI and the chopper found the craft at Hurst Castle.
A lifeboat crew member transferred on board and, once the casualty was confirmed safe and well, helped take the vessel to Yarmouth.
Volunteer RNLI helm Andy Read praised the family member’s swift action to raise the alarm after losing contact as “the right decision”.
He said: “Not being able to establish consistent contact with the vessel made it difficult to locate and establish its status and condition.
“However, good coordination between the multiple search teams eventually led to a successful outcome.”
Mr Read added: “Before setting out on any voyage, it is important to be prepared with the right equipment on board and to ensure someone on shore is aware of your plans in case an unforeseen situation or emergency arises.”