One man was dragged underneath the Dorset chain ferry when his dinghy's engine failed in its path

Two men had a lucky escape after their 8ft inflatable dinghy collided with Poole’s chain ferry, causing one of them to be dragged underneath.

Portland Coastguard

received several 999 calls on Friday evening reporting that a small grey

inflatable dinghy had suffered engine failure whilst in the path of the

Sandbanks-to-Studland chain ferry.

The two occupants had been caught out by the strong tide and were unable to start the engine in

time, causing it to collide with the chain ferry ‘Bramblebush


The two men were thrown into

the water; one grabbed the

lifeline on the chain ferry and was recovered by people on board,

the other was swept under the ferry.

He was rescued from the water by a passing

38ft yacht.

Both Poole RNLI All Weather Lifeboat and Poole RNLI Inshore lifeboat

were diverted from another job, so were able to get to the scene quickly with

Coastguard Rescue Officers from Poole. 

The inshore lifeboat went

to the yacht and transferred the casualty onto the lifeboat, he was

‘shaken up and wet but otherwise okay’, they landed him at North Haven

steps and a crewman took him ashore and stayed with him.


volunteers recovered the other casualty from the ferry and checked him

over, he was also okay and landed ashore.

The dinghy was stuck

under the ferry, preventing the ferry moving. The lifeboat crew tried to

secure a tow but it was not budging. They tried to use a spike

to work it free, but as this was happening it washed itself free. The

inshore lifeboat recovered it from the water and brought it ashore.

Gavin McGuinness, RNLI volunteer helmsman said: ‘Fortunately

for the man swept under the ferry his lifejacket did not inflate, it

brought back memories of a previous shout in 2001, where a lady was

swept under the ferry in similar circumstances.

‘With the strong flood

tide and challenging conditions, they were extremely lucky.’

Lessons learned


Davey, Portland Coastguard watch manager said: ‘The two

men were very unfortunate that their boat broke down where and when it did.


this kind of situation quick communications are key and so a handheld VHF

radio, mini flares or a mobile phone in a waterproof bag would have proved

invaluable in contacting the Coastguard and requesting immediate assistance.’

Pictures: Poole chain ferry. Credit Twitter/@LCN89; a RNLI lifeboat in action