Distress flare sparks night-time Solent search
A red parachute distress flare, spotted by a fisherman on the Hampshire shore, at Hillhead, resulted in an extensive two-hour land and sea search of the Solent, in pitch dark, during the early hours of this morning.
Rather unusually, the fisherman’s emergency message to Coastguards was backed up on his mobile phone with a video of the flare.
Both Cowes RNLI lifeboat and the Ryde independent lifeboat were tasked for the search, together with the Ventnor coastguard team.
Using their powerful onboard searchlights, the two lifeboats painstakingly searched an area of the Solent between Woodside Bay, Wootton and Osborne Bay. Where there was sufficient water because of the very low tide, Ryde lifeboat also searched Wootton Creek.
Meanwhile the relevant Solent and creek shoreline was searched by the coastguard team.
Eventually the whole search was called off, with nothing found. Cowes lifeboat, which had launched at 1.50 am, returned to station two hours later.
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 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.