Sinking Yacht Sparks Major Solent Emergency

Lifeboats News Release

A major Solent emergency involving a sinking yacht led to Cowes RNLI lifeboat joining a number of vessels racing to its aid just after mid-day today.

Shot of the RNLI crew on boat in the foreground looking on the sinking yacht which is half submerged.


The Cowes RNLI crew on the scene of the sinking yacht.

The 40 foot yacht, with three Swiss men on board, had lost its rudder and was taking on water after it apparently snagged the anchor chain of No 2 buoy at the entrance of Cowes Harbour.

As the yacht began drifting westwards, all the time becoming more waterlogged, to its aid raced the lifeboat, together with a River Medina-based crew transport vessel, Calshot RNLI lifeboat, a police launch, a Cowes Harbour launch, and a catamaran and two car ferries belonging to Red Funnel..

Two of the yacht’s crew were quickly taken off by the crew transport craft. The yacht was boarded by two of the Cowes lifeboat crew with a salvage pump, but they found there was just too much water to be effective, having by then reached as high as the yacht’s chart table.

As it was clear the yacht would eventually sink, everyone was taken off the craft, and Cowes Harbour released a tow line to take the yacht further away from the shipping lane. The sinking finally occurred off Gurnard, leaving just part of the mast above the water. A marker buoy was put in place by the Cowes Harbour launch, as a warning to other vessels.

The yacht had been on passage from Portsmouth to Cowes when the incident occurred.


RNLI media contacts

  • George Chastney, Cowes RNLI Volunteer Press Officer 07530 254052/ [email protected]
  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer (London and South East) 0207 6207425/ 07785 296252/ [email protected]
  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit
Wider shot of the crew and sinking yacht disappearing into the water.


The yacht settles further into the water.
Wide shot showing the lifeboat alongside the yacht.

John Green

Two of the Swiss crew were rescued by a transport vessel, the third by the Cowes lifeboat.
Photo of the yacht almost completely submerged and an RNLI lifeboat.

John Green

The yacht is almost completely submerged.
Shot showing just the mast sticking out of the water.

John Green

All that remains to be seen is the mast sticking out of the water.

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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 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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.