Fishermen Rescued After Their Boat Sank
17 September 2013, 12:42 | Updated: 18 September 2013, 11:57
Two men have been rescued after their fishing boat sank early this morning near Christchurch.
Solent Coastguard requested the assistance of the Yarmouth RNLI lifeboat crew at 8.12am after two members of the public had called to say they had seen red flares in the sky off the west of the Isle of Wight.
The flares turned out to have been set off by two men in a life raft whose fishing vessel had capsized hours earlier – while one of the crew was still in his sleeping bag in his bunk bed.
The lifeboat crew’s pagers were activated at 8.13am and the crew rushed to the station and launched the all-weather lifeboat Eric and Susan Hiscock (Wanderer) just ten mins later at 8.23am.
Howard Lester, coxswain of Yarmouth RNLI Lifeboat Station, said:
"While we were making our way to the scene of the flare sightings we received an update from the Coastguard.
"Some of their officers had gone to the shoreline and seen a life raft and another flare go off, and gave us an updated position that the raft was in the middle of Totland Bay.
"We arrived on scene to find two men, one probably in his 30s, the other 40s, in the life raft, very grateful to see us. They had been in a 14m fishing vessel using the beam trawling method of fishing just off Christchurch Ledge, and something must have happened to roll the boat over.
"They said they capsized within seconds, plunging them both into the sea. One was pretty shaken up as he had been in his sleeping bag in a bunk when it happened, and had to swim out of the wheelhouse and up to the surface. He’d only been wearing a pair of sleeping shorts.
"They had been in the life raft for about two-and-a-half-hours when we got to them and both were suffering from mild hypothermia. We took them aboard the lifeboat and treated them until we got them back to shore to waiting ambulance."
A Coastguard helicopter was also deployed to look for the capsized fishing vessel after the men had been rescued, but they were unable to find any trace of the vessel, so it was assumed it sank.
The skipper of the boat, Chris Hubbard, 31, and his mate, Karl Scrivens, 49, returned to the lifeboat station after being checked up at St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight. Chris, from Hamworthy, Poole, said:
"I am still shocked, it doesn’t seem real right now. I gather there was some weight on the port side and the weather and the tide just turned us over.
"I was in my bed at the time and Karl shouted “get out bed”. As I did I was pinned against the floor which was the wall, and the opposite wall was the floor. Water started coming through a galley window on the port side and I was trying to get back up to the entrance but it was too high.
"Clothes started falling out of the wardrobe and I managed to grab hold of a heater on the bulkhead and took a breath as water filled the cabin.
"I struggled to get the door open under water, I imagine because of the pressure, but thank goodness on the third attempt I got it open. I had to get my bearings but I made it up to the surface and shouted to Karl.
"He was underneath the life raft so together we righted it and realised the situation we were in. The life raft was still tied to the boat so we had to cut that free because we were worried we might go down with her.
"I didn’t have time to grab clothes, or a radio – I managed to grab three flares and that’s what we used to try and get someone’s attention.
"I was freezing cold in just my shorts and those were the longest two hours of my life. When I saw the lifeboat coming towards us it was such a relief. I just thought “brilliant – we’re saved.”'
Coxswain Howard Lester said:
"This sounds like it was very frightening for the two men involved, as it all happened so quickly. One minute the men were fishing and the next they were in the cold water with their boat upside down.
"Fortunately they were carrying the flares otherwise they may have drifted in the life raft for a lot longer before being seen.
"This is precisely why the lifeboats charity exists – to help people in distress through no fault of their own. I am proud of my volunteer crew and delighted we were able to help the two fishermen."
Matt West, Watch Manager at Solent Coastguard, said:
"It appears this fishing vessel suffered problems early this morning, and sank quickly. So much so that the two men on board didn’t have time to radio us for help.
"Luckily, they managed to get into their liferaft and take with them some red distress flares which meant they could raise the alarm.
"We always urge fishermen to make sure they’re well prepared when heading out to sea, with as much life saving equipment on board as possible.
"This includes the necessary communications equipment, a liferaft, distress flares and of course personal flotation devices, which should be worn at all times whilst on deck.”