A man and two children have been rescued off the Dorset coast after the engine of their RIB caught fire, causing the boat to sink

Two children and their father had to abandon their RIB in Poole Harbour after the boat’s engine caught fire, sinking minutes later.

Volunteer crews from Poole RNLI rescued Joe and his children – 11-year-old Sonny and Rudy, 8, who had managed to swim ashore at Russel Quay near to Arne.

A boat sinking after catching on fire

The RIB burnt to the waterline after the engine caught on fire. Credit: RNLI

“The fire took hold pretty quickly, and with fuel tanks on board I didn’t know what was going to explode, so there was no other option than to bail out,” said Joe.

“Luckily, we all had our buoyancy aids on and it was low tide, so we didn’t have to swim too far before we reached the shore and could call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Within five minutes the boat was fully ablaze. We were very lucky with where it happened – if we were back where we were fishing it would have been a different story,” he said.

A boat sinking having caught on fire

The boat eventually sank. Credit: RNLI

The family had been fishing on the evening of 7 May, when the engine caught fire.

After making it safely to land, the three were brought on board the lifeboat, with volunteer crew member Dave Bursey carrying Sonny and Rudy. They were then taken back to the RNLI station for hot showers, a change of clothes and cups of tea.

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“We were very pleased when we arrived on scene to see that all three casualties had made it to shore safely, and nobody had been injured in the fire,” said Dave.

“Fortunately, they were all wearing buoyancy aids and weren’t too far from the shore, and the dad did the right thing in carrying a means for calling for help in a waterproof pouch, then dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard as soon as it was safe to do so.”

RNLI volunteer Dave Bursey goes ashore to rescue Joe and his children - 11-year-old Sonny and Rudy, 8. Credit: RNLI

RNLI volunteer Dave Bursey goes ashore to rescue Joe and his children – 11-year-old Sonny and Rudy, 8. Credit: RNLI

Poole RNLI’s second lifeboat stood by as the stricken vessel burnt down to the water line and sank, and a Poole Harbour Commissioners vessel ensured there was no pollution to the harbour.

The RNLI has now re-issued key safety advice for anyone going boating. This includes:

  • Always wear an appropriate lifejacket.
  • Always carry a means of calling and signalling for help.
  • Ensure there is an emergency action plan in place and everybody has an onboard briefing (in particular on the location and use of the safety equipment, including the spare kill cord for powerboats).
  • Get the right level of training for your craft.
  • Always check the weather and tide times.
  • Make sure someone ashore knows where you are going and who to call if you don’t return on time.
  • Always drive your boat at a speed that is appropriate to the weather conditions and to the environment you are operating in.

Enjoyed reading ‘I didn’t know what was going to explode’. Family escape boat fire?

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