Lifeboat members from Cowes and Gurnad check over the crippled yacht.
Credit: RNLI/George Chastney

The towering mast on a 41ft yacht came crashing down in mid-Solent on Monday leading to Cowes RNLI lifeboat and Gosport independent lifeboat racing to the scene.

The mast, together with sails and rigging, was left hanging over the starboard side of Amalie, though the four occupants of the yacht – two men and two women – escaped injury.

Crew members from both lifeboats swarmed over the yacht, which was on charter, to carry out a full assessment.

When a strenuous attempt to lift the mast back on to the yacht failed, it was eventually decided that it, together with rigging and sails, should be cut free. Cowes crew member Piers Tylor set to work with the task, using a hacksaw and bolt cutter.

The separation from the yacht became more urgent when there were signs the boat could soon be holed below the waterline by the mast rubbing against the hull.

Mast, sails and rigging was finally allowed to sink to the sea bed although a line attached to a marker buoy ensured they could all be safely recovered later by a commercial vessel.

Cowes lifeboat started to to tow the crippled yacht to Haslar, but then the job was taken over Gosport lifeboat.

Cowes lifeboat, with Laurie O’Callaghan at the helm, had been away from station for nearly three hours, launching just after 2 pm and returning at 5 pm.

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