No flares or VHF aboard 26ft sportsboat that sank off Cowes

A boat carrying seven people sank in the Solent early this morning.

The 26ft sportsboat is believed to have hit an underwater object before sinking and leaving its seven passengers in the water.

When found, the condition of the four men and three women was described as “hypothermic” and one had a minor head injury.

The boat is understood to have been making its way back from Cowes to Portsmouth following Cowes Week.

The first distress call from the boat was made by mobile phone, as the craft, called ‘Deep Purple’, was carrying no VHF or distress flares.

The Coastguard also reported that only five passengers had lifejackets and two were under 18.

A helicopter and three lifeboats were scrambled, but it was a Royal Marine RHIB that first found the casualties after hearing the distress broadcast.

All seven were later transferred to a lifeboat and taken to Portsmouth, where they were met by an ambulance that took them to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Colin Griffiths, Solent Coastguard Watch Manager, said: “If the vessel had sunk immediately throwing all of the people into the water rather than giving them time to contact the Coastguard, we could easily have been discussing fatalities this morning.

“To go afloat at night without making sure all your passengers are wearing lifejackets; and that you possess a working radio or flares or even a GPS giving your exact location is taking a risk too far. They are extremely lucky to be just wet and cold.

“We are checking reports of what they might have struck, but can find no indication on any current chart which has not been helped by the confusion surrounding their location. We suspect it may have been a well-documented mooring buoy.”