Portsmouth lifeboats launched immediately to reports of four people in the water
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.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.