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Portsmouth lifeboats launched immediately to reports of four people in the water

Lifeboats News Release

While out sailing, one of the group's vintage dinghys capsized from a sudden gust and was unable to self right. On trying to assist, a second dinghy capsized leaving all four people in the water, swimming with a fast out going Langstone Harbour tide.

Raising the alarm, the UK Coastguard (Solent) requested immediate launch of both Portsmouth RNLI Lifeboats (3:33pm - Sunday 11 June 2017) . With some of the volunteers still on station from the day's training they were able to launch quickly and rushed out to the scene.

They plucked two, near hypothermic, casualties from the water that had been clinging to their upturned dinghy and found the other two on the rear swim deck of a passing powered vessel.

Seeing two of the casualties drifting further out into the Solent, the passing cruiser attempted to assist but inadvertently injured one of the gentleman when his leg went under the rear swim deck and contacted the spinning propeller.

Bleeding on the rear deck, direct pressure was applied until the RNLI lifeboat arrived and was able to administer first aid. Not knowing the extent of his injury, Portsmouth first aiders Brittany Jones and Kim Dugan boarded the motor vessel and assessed the gentleman fully before dressing the wound and transferring him to the Atlantic 85 lifeboat before rushing them all back to shore and a waiting ambulance.

Three of the soaking wet casualties were taken directly to the lifeboat station and given hot drinks, warm showers and dry clothes, and were monitored by volunteer RNLI crew and an attending paramedic. The injured gentleman was initially treated in the ambulance but on further assessment was taken off to hospital for further checks.

While the Atlantic lifeboat looked after the casualties, Portsmouth 's D-class lifeboat Brian’s Pride was directed to recover the swamped drifting dinghy, with local independent Portsea Rescue's jet ski tending to the second. Both casualty vessels were semi-submerged meaning the lifeboats had to battle a fast flowing outgoing tide for nearly an hour to reach the nearest Hayling beach, with such a weight the D-class lifeboat reported an average speed of two knots over ground (approx. 1-1.5mph).

Greeted by a local Coastguard Rescue Unit and friends of the capsized crew, the lifeboat was able to return out of the harbour to assist Portsea Rescue with the second, now uprighted, sailing dinghy.

Shortly after handing over the four swimming casualties to the shore crew, the Portsmouth lifeboat Norma T was tasked to another incident involving a drifting yacht with machinery failure.

Both boats returned to station shortly after 6pm.

Two of the casualties clinging to an upturned dinghy

RNLI/Brittany Jones

Two of the casualties clinging to an upturned dinghy
The Lifeboat approaching the passing vessel that picked up two other casualties

RNLI/Brittany Jones

The Lifeboat approaching the passing vessel that picked up two other casualties

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland