640 men were killed when the South African troop carrier was hit by a cargo ship in 1917.
Dinghy Group Rescued Off Portland
Five people sailing in dinghies were towed back into Portland Harbour after a concerned member of the public spotted the group drifting.
The call came in at 1340 Thursday 5th May, reporting the five laser sailing dinghies, with one person on each, which had been spotted in a position approximately 1 nautical mile east of Grove Point, Portland. Local vessels in the area were contacted and asked to investigate the report as Portland Coastguard had no communications with the people on board the dinghies and the craft appeared to be making no headway and drifting south in strong tides toward the Portland tidal race.
Further investigations were made and Portland Bill Coastguard Rescue Officers were tasked to Portland Bill to continue observations. The skipper of the local angling vessel Tiger Lily which was in the area was asked to proceed, and the Weymouth RNLI Inshore Lifeboat also launched. The craft were eventually located 1.8 miles south of Portland Bill.
Once on scene, the Tiger Lily communicated with the crew of the dinghies and confirmed that all persons were okay, but unable to make their way back to Portland Harbour due to strong tides and lack of wind. The Tiger Lily initially took two of the dinghies in tow and were eventually met by a rigid inflatable from the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy which took over the tow. The remaining three dinghies were taken under tow by the Weymouth ILB. Once all vessels were confirmed as under tow, the Portland Bill Coastguard Officers were retasked to the
Sailing Academy to meet the crew on arrival and ascertain exactly what happened.
Portland Coastguard Watch Manager said:
"We would like to thank all members of the public for their assistance in reporting these craft, the National Coastwatch for their assistance with observations and the crew of the Tiger Lily for assisting. Although in this instance the crew of these dinghies were recovered safe and well, the incident could have had a different outcome. Any group such as this intending to go out on the water should ensure they have all the necessary safety equipment including distress flares and good communications equipment including a VHF radio."
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