22 Nov 2010 - The morning watch at NCI Gosport seemed relatively uneventful on Wednesday 3 November when, at 1128 am, the yacht “First Fancy” was observed in collision with the Ballast Pile, an important navigation mark near the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.
The vessel, with only one person on board, had been motoring towards the harbour entrance when a sudden eddy of tide forced her to veer off course and collide with the pile, entangling her rigging and snapping her mast leaving her impaled and stranded.
Photograph by Graham Dubber
The duty Watchkeepers immediately informed the Queen’s Harbour Master’s Port Control who then took charge of the incident tasking a number of nearby vessels to the rescue. Solent Coastguard were also advised of the incident by NCI Gosport at this point ensuring they were aware that the situation was in hand should they receive any 999 calls from the public.
Within three minutes, the Rapid Response RIB from a UK Border Agency Offshore Patrol Vessel, moored in nearby Haslar Creek, together with a small civilian RIB were on scene. The crane equipped Harbour Maintenance Vessel, “VOE III”, managed to lift the shattered mast clear to free the yacht which was then towed away to the safety of Haslar Creek for repairs. The MOD police launch “Loyalty” stood by to help if required.
As a result of the vigilance and quick thinking response of NCI Gosport watchkeepers, together with prompt and decisive action taken by QHM Port Control, the whole incident was resolved safely in just twelve minutes, emphasising once again the value of visual surveillance provided by NCI around our coastline.