Car in Poole Harbour forces Sandbanks Ferry to suspend service

The Sandbanks Ferry had to stop operating, after a car waiting to board, rolled off the slipway on the Sandbanks side of Poole Harbour, and floated out into the water.

Police were called to the incident at 2.22 pm on Thursday 15th June 2023. It happened right on the route of the ferry which usually runs between Sandbanks and Studland in Dorset.

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Car recovered from Poole Harbour
Robin Clark

The car being winched out of Poole Harbour under the supervision of the Dorset Police marine team

Rolled down the slope and into the harbour

Witnesses say that the driver had got out of her car and had left it in the queue for the ferry.

It’s understood that the unoccupied vehicle then rolled down the slope and into the harbour.

A passenger on the ferry Michal Jastrzebski was returning to Bournemouth after a bike ride in Purbeck and managed to film the car floating in the water.

Car in Poole Harbour
Michal Jastrzebski

Fortunately the car was unoccupied

Car in water at Sandbanks Ferry
Swanage Coastguard

“There are no reports of any injuries”

Shortly after the incident a spokesperson for Dorset Police said:

“Officers have attended and are liaising with the coastguard and the harbourmaster.

“The incident has resulted in the suspension of the Sandbanks Ferry and congestion in the area. Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible.

“It has been confirmed the car is unoccupied and there are no reports of any injuries.”

Car in Poole Harbour
Michal Jastrzebski
Tugboat rescues car in Poole Harbour
Haven Hotel webcam

Tugboat Stour went to rescue the car from the water and later headed for the Port of Poole marina

Car was recovered by a tugboat

The ferry was able to recommence service at about 5 pm but then had to suspend the service again at about 6.15 pm while the tugboat Stour recovered the car from the water and removed it from the path of the ferry.

Swanage Coastguard reported:

“The team stood by with Poole Coastguard attending the north side of the harbour. The car remained afloat for a while before sinking.

“The chain ferry service was suspended for a period of time until the location of the car was confirmed. An operation has seen the car now recovered.”

Both lifeboats from Poole RNLI launched and went to the scene of the incident but after discovering that the driver was safely on the shore, they were able to return to their station.

Normal ferry service resumed

The ferry is now operating normally and the Purbeck Breezer 50 bus service, which was also disrupted, is continuing as usual.

This is not the first time that the Sandbanks Ferry service has been disrupted by incidents with other modes of transport.

On a number of occasions, small yachts have been pulled by tidal currents against the side of the ferry and got entangled in its prow, however it has only once had to suspend operations due to a wing walking plane ditching in the water close by. No one was seriously hurt in any of the incidents.

Watch the video by Michal Jastrzebski

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