RNLI Rescues Fisherman After Rapid Sinking Off Dorset

RNLI swanage lifeboat
Swanage RNLI lifeboat (file image)

Published Sep 21, 2020 4:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

A lone fisherman was rescued off England's southern coast in the early hours of Monday morning after his trawler flooded and sank.

At about 0210 hours Sunday, HM Coastguard picked up a mayday call from the boat, which was located in the English Channel about half a mile southwest of Anvil Point. The vessel was reported to have struck an object and was taking on water fast, according to the RNLI. Within minutes, HM Coastguard's response coordinators broadcast a mayday to nearby vessels and dispatched two RNLI lifeboats from Swanage.

The mayday was picked up by a passing yacht, which also reported spotting red flares. The yacht was able to get on scene quickly and spotted the man - whose trawler had sunk rapidly - floating in the water.  

The yacht's crew was unable to pull the fisherman on deck, but they remained on scene until an RNLI lifeboat arrived at 0237 hours. The lifeboat crew rescued him and brought him back to Swanage, where he was met by the local ambulance service. An RNLI inshore lifeboat patrolled the scene to look for signs of the lost vessel, floating debris or other hazards to navigation, but nothing was found. 

"There is no doubt in my mind that this fisherman kept his head and did all the right things," said duty controller for HM Coastguard Dai Jones. “When his vessel began taking on water he immediately put out the Mayday call, which we picked up. The flares which he set off meant the vessel which came to his aid could pinpoint where he was sinking within minutes. He had his lifejacket on, and the lights on that lifejacket made it easy for him to be spotted in the water. 

"All of his actions gave him the best possible chance of survival and, remarkably, within 25 minutes of making that Mayday call, he was safely onboard the lifeboat," Jones said. “He was cold and in a state of shock but otherwise unharmed. Had he not acted in the way he did, things may have ended differently."