Fisherman saved after his trawler sinks without trace off Anvil Point

A fisherman was able to be plucked from the sea in a night time rescue by Swanage Lifeboat crew, thanks to a lifejacket that “played a big part in saving his life.”

The crew rushed to answer a mayday call in the early hours of this morning after a lone fisherman’s trawler started to rapidly sink near Anvil Point, just along the coast from Swanage.


The call was issued at approximately 2.10 am on Monday 21st September 2020 after the commercial fishing vessel, which was on route to Weymouth from Hayling Island in Hampshire, reportedly hit an object and began to fill with water.

The trawler was sinking fast

Both lifeboats from Swanage were sent to the incident and a nearby yacht also responded to the call. The trawler was sinking fast, and the crew of the yacht luckily found the fisherman in the water, floating with the help of his lifejacket.

The yacht’s crew were unable to recover him, but the all-weather lifeboat quickly arrived and grabbed the fisherman out of the water.

The crew assessed that he was cold, but was otherwise uninjured. He was taken to the ferry steps at Sandbanks, where he was tended to by paramedics.

Anvil Point viewed from the sea
Caroline Abbott

Anvil Point, just west of Swanage

Fisherman ‘did all the right things’

Duty controller for HM Coastguard, Dai Jones praised the fisherman’s actions in the crisis, saying that he took all the vital steps to help with the rescue.

As the boat was sinking, the fisherman fired flares to alert others of his location and wore a lifejacket with lights.

Dai Jones said:

“There is no doubt in my mind that this fisherman kept his head and did all the right things.

“When his vessel began taking on water he immediately put out the Mayday call which we picked up. The flares which he set off meant the vessel which came to his aid could pinpoint where he was sinking within minutes.

“He had his lifejacket on, and the lights on that lifejacket made it easy for him to be spotted in the water. All of his actions gave him the best possible chance of survival and, remarkably, within 25 minutes of making that Mayday call, he was safely onboard the lifeboat.

“He was cold and in a state of shock but otherwise unharmed. Had he not acted in the way he did, things may have ended differently.”

Swanage Lifeboat Station in its incident report agreed and pointed out:

“The yacht headed for the reported position and found the fisherman in the water, supported by his lifejacket which undoubtedly played a big part in saving his life.”

No sign of the sunk boat

The inshore lifeboat scoured the area for any sign of hazards and although some small objects were found, neither the fishing trawler nor the object it hit were discovered.

With the rescue complete, both lifeboats were back at the station by 4 am.

Importance of wearing a lifejacket

This incident highlights the importance of wearing a lifejacket, a practice that is not always followed within the fishing industry.

Just yesterday, Sunday 20th September 2020, Sunderland RNLI rescued three fishermen not wearing lifejackets, whose boat was capsized leaving them in the water hanging onto their upturned boat. Sunderland RNLI volunteer helmsman, Paul Nicholson speaking about their rescue said:

“Hopefully, this incident will act as a reminder to those who go out to sea about why it is important to wear your lifejacket and not leave it in a locker on the boat.”

Fishermen saved from drowning

Fishermen not wearing lifejackets, saved from drowning by Sunderland RNLI

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