A challenging trip today (which started as a normal weekday training run) when we were asked by Solent Coastguard, via Harbour Control, if we could assist a 9.5m yacht with engine failure in the Wareham Channel.
Wind was stronger than forecast and quite a chop in most of the harbour and as at the time of the call we were at the east end of the North Channel we had a long bumpy trip to get there.
The yacht had two anchors out, 2 people on board and in spite of the conditions we managed to agree that they would recover one anchor, take a tow line and after weighing the other anchor we would tow them to Poole Quay. (I think they wanted to go to Holes Bay or Cobbs but I thought that was too far!).
We had a very tricky time with tow attached while they struggled to recover their main anchor. Because of the wind and rough water it was very difficult to pull gently in the right direction to free the anchor, it was very well bedded and with lots of chain, but eventually it came up.
A tricky stern tow then, with the wind astern they tended to catch us up, but all went well until we reached Stakes. Turning into Little Channel we had a trip boat coming in behind and another leaving the quay, the wind astern and the yacht trying to overtake us. Of course at this point the tow parted! Some metal part on her had worn through the rope.
The yacht immediately drifted off towards Baiter. Avocet stopped to recover the towline from the water and the trip boat showed some consternation!
We quickly managed to get a new tow established and finally managed to get both vessels alongside the quay without breaking anything (except the rope!).
We gave them a Harbour Guide book and the MVS card and left them to it.
My crew, Martin and Miles, were terrific. While I handled Avocet they rigged the lines and managed the tow. They both did a great job. A really good learning opportunity, especially for me.
(Please note, we need a new towing rope. The old one was a bit short and it’s a bit shorter now!)
Chris Young – 17th April 2018