Poole Harbour incidents prompt swift action by MVS Avocet

Two recent incidents involving the public on consecutive days, have demonstrated the value of the regular patrols undertaken in Poole Harbour by Poole MVS unit and their support to the work of the Harbour Master.


MVS Avocet at work in Poole Harbour

In the first incident on the afternoon of Saturday 30 June, the crew of four of Avocet spotted a women waving to them from the moored barge and pontoons near Lake Pier. On investigation, the crew discovered a young man and two women who had been fishing from the pier but whose small Shetland cruiser had come adrift and had floated away with the south-westerly wind.

The young man had apparently entered the water to attempt to swim to the drifting boat but given the wind and sea conditions, had been unable to reach it. He had managed to return to the pontoon but had been unable to climb back onto the deck and was found in the water, clinging to a mooring rope.

Two crew members from Avocet boarded the pontoon and with the assistance of one of the women, were able to lift the young man out of the water. Although cold, he was found to be none the worse for his swim. He commented ‘’I was surprised by the wind and sea currents and couldn’t swim against them. It was a lot colder than expected’’. 

The young man and his female friends were quickly transferred to Avocet with their gear and the Shetland cruiser was recovered.

The three persons on the Shetland had neither life jackets nor radio nor insurance, although one person had a mobile phone. They were advised to return in their boat to the free launching slip near Lake Yard where they had come from, whilst Avocet stood by until all three people were safely ashore. The details of the incident were reported by radio to Harbour Control but a formal report was not requested.


The second incident on the morning of Sunday 1 July, found the four crew members of Avocet on patrol in the Wareham Channel with sea conditions deteriorating. At around 12.00 hrs, the crew heard a radio call concerning a small vessel that had lost engine power and was in difficulties close to the ferry and was being blown onto the private pontoons at Sandbanks.

Avocet was proceeding towards the incident when she was overtaken by the Harbour Master vessel Vigilant with blue lights flashing. Vigilant reached the vessel in distress and attached a tow rope to pull her off the pontoon. She was a 20 ft open motor craft with an outboard engine and a crew of two. She had apparently left from Cobbs Quay earlier in the day. Neither of the crew was wearing a life jacket and their only means of communication was a mobile phone.

Vigilant then made radio contact with Avocet to request that she take over the tow, as the Vigilant crew would shortly be required to escort the Condor ferry into port.

Avocet followed Vigilant to a sheltered spot off the North East corner of Brownsea Island, where she took over the tow rope. She then headed back towards the quay, pausing en route to change from a long tow to an alongside tow.

Avocet arrived back at the quay at around 13:20 but a falling tide and a long wait until the next Poole Bridge lift meant that the towed vessel could not be returned to Cobbs Quay. Instead, she was tied alongside Tom Sherrin and Avocet could continue with her patrol with her afternoon crew.