Last evening we attended the beach barbecue and dance which is a fundraiser for the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS). Fantastic barbecued chicken with salad and fried rice and a bottomless rum punch glass prepared everyone for an evening of music and dance. The numerous yachties kicked up the dust and socialized with each other. This is one of the best venues we have come across for all the yachties from different countries to get to know each other.
We returned to Easy Go in our rowing dinghy near midnight, far later than we normally stay out. As we were preparing to go to bed there was a bloodcurdling scream off the port side of the boat and we both rushed on deck to see what the matter was. While the wind was not particularly strong it was strong enough for a dinghy with a broken down engine and a hysterical passenger to blow by us faster than I could get a rope to throw.
We have no motor on the dinghy so our next option was to find someone with one as this person obviously was being blown to sea without a flashlight or oars for self rescue. Kathy kept the beam of our multi million candle power light trained on the rapidly disappearing dinghy while I put out a Mayday on the VHF. We got one response which went silent after I explained the situation. No aid was forthcoming. I then got out the fog horn and started to blow three then five toots to try and attract attention. Another party goer was fortunately returning to their boat and we attracted their attention with the fog horn and calls of Mayday. They motored over by us rapidly while Kathy instructed them to follow our light beam to the now almost invisible dinghy. Fortunately they were able to find the errant dinghy, take it in tow and headed back to the anchorage. The Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS) boat met them on the way in and took over the rescue.
This event could have had a very bad ending if we had not fortunately been in the right place at the right time. A reminder to all those people that put blind faith in the internal combustion engine. Make sure that you have oars, a flashlight and a VHF radio whenever you go out in your dinghy. The life you save may very well be your own.