A DRUNK man who swam across the River Medina after missing the last chain ferry was lucky to be found alive, according to an RNLI crewman.
The 52-year-old man and his daughter had planned to take the floating bridge from Cowes to East Cowes in the early hours of this morning (Saturday), only to find it had stopped for the night.
He decided to swim across and plunged into the water shortly before 2am, but his daughter had no way of knowing if he had made it to the other side and called for help.
The Cowes RNLI Lifeboat, helmed by Neil Archer, was called to the scene, and the man was discovered near Venture Quay.
Crewman Will King said: "We firstly searched the area of the chain ferry without success, and spread further along the banks. Then someone on the Cowes shore said they thought they heard vague moaning noises and cries for help from further down the river on the east bank. Then we heard cries coming from Venture Quay.
"Then we saw a man wandering about, thoroughly soaked to the skin and shivering. He stank of alcohol and could hardly talk except to say over and over again 'sorry, sorry for the inconvenience.' He had apparently managed to cling to the quay jetty and pull himself up."
Will, a hospital doctor, tried to warm him up as the lifeboat rushed him to Trinity Landing, Cowes.
From there, he was taken by ambulance to St Mary's Hospital.
Will said: "He was very lucky there was only a half-knot ebb tide flowing in the river at the time. Anything stronger and he would have been pushed out to sea, and we would have been talking about body recovery.
"After our search, which perhaps lasted ten minutes, it was such a relief to find that against real odds the man had survived."