DETERIORATING weather off the Isle of Wight yesterday (Sunday) turned an RNLI training exercise into a "live" rescue mission.
Cowes RNLI lifeboat was returning to station after a two-and-a-half hour training exercise when it was tasked by Solent Coastguard to assist the 35ft yacht, Sunwind, which was experiencing difficulties on its way from Lymington to Hythe.
She suffered rigging failure and her engine was struggling to make headway in worsening weather.
Cowes lifeboat helm, Richard O’Callaghan, said: "To top it all, the yacht’s electrics were working only intermittently so we could not establish good communications with the vessel or get an accurate fix on their location.
"Fortunately, another yacht, Arctic Breeze, was able to stand by and assist the lifeboat in locating the stricken yacht as the visibility closed in."
Once the yacht was located crewman, James Chillman, was put aboard Sunwind to ensure the three people on board were safe and well and the yacht was taken under tow by the lifeboat to the mouth of Southampton Water.
The tow was then transferred to Calshott RNLI Lifeboat for the remainder of the journey to Hythe.
The lifeboat returned to station at 1.20pm and had been out for a total of four hours, according to a Cowes RNLI spokesman.