RNLI rescue a yacht pinned against Sandbanks Ferry

Two people on a small yacht that collided with the Sandbanks Ferry, were lucky not to be injured, after their boat got stuck against the front of the Sandbanks Ferry.

The incident happened at about 3.30 pm today, Sunday 21st June 2020, just as the tide was going out, when typically there are strong currents at the mouth of Poole Harbour.


With the 22 ft yacht dangerously entangled with the 242 ft ferry, both of the Poole lifeboats and the Poole and Swanage Coastguard teams were called to rescue the crew.

Yacht stuck under ferry
Fiona Mellor

This image of the yacht was taken by a ferry passenger, Fiona Mellor

Both the Poole lifeboats rushed to the scene

Watched by the ferry passengers, both the Poole lifeboats rushed to the scene, the B class Atlantic 85, which is a rigid inflatable lifeboat and the D class, which is an inshore lifeboat (ILB).

The RNLI said:

“When the Atlantic launched, it was confirmed that one person was on the chain ferry and another was unaccounted for, but as the lifeboat arrived on scene, both had been accounted for and were safe and well onboard the chain ferry.

“The vessel was hung up on the side of the ferry, with the staves of the mast snagged onto the ramp and the tide pushing it against the ferry’s prow.”

A plan was put in place to recover the yacht

With the Sandbanks Ferry service suspended and the situation assessed, a plan was put in place to recover the yacht. The RNLI explained:

“A tow rope was established to pull the stricken vessel clear. The Atlantic took the tow under load and manoeuvred until the yacht became free from the ferry ramp. The vessel was then towed back to the steps at North Haven.

“Meanwhile, the chain ferry resumed back to the Sandbank’s side and the D Class crew went to check that everyone onboard was okay with a member of the lifeboat crew going ashore to meet the ferry as it came in.

“As the Atlantic prepared to tow the vessel back to its mooring, the crew checked to make sure the vessel was seaworthy and it seemed unscathed, bar a bit of superficial damage.”

Yacht rescued by Poole lifeboat
Fiona Mellor

The casualties were checked over for injuries by the rescue teams, before their yacht was towed back to its mooring just off Brownsea Island

“The elements can be unforgiving”

RNLI volunteer helm, Jonathan Clark said:

“The conditions played a part in the incident today, with a strong ebb tide and a gusting south westerly wind, it really did not help the situation. The elements can be unforgiving.”

The yacht was towed back to its mooring just off Brownsea Castle, where the casualties were able to make their own way back home via their tender.

A spokesperson for HM Coastguard said:

“Two people on board the small boat, which is described as a 22 ft privately owned shrimper were recovered onto the ferry without injuries. Poole RNLI lifeboat removed the vessel and towed it clear of the ferry, which was then able to resume operation. At the time of the incident the tide was going out and currents in the harbour mouth location are typically very strong.

“It is unclear how the yacht became entangled with the ferry this afternoon and a report has been made to the Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).”

Watch the RNLI video of the rescue

RNLI/Poole video footage of the rescue of a yacht that had collided with the Sandbanks Ferry

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