Two men have been rescued from Poole Harbour after their dinghy collided with a chain ferry, sweeping one under the vessel and leaving another adrift at sea.
Horrified onlookers watched as the two men were hurled out of the water at about 7.20pm yesterday after their small inflatable’s engine failed in the path of the Sandbanks chain ferry.
One man was sucked under the vessel before surfacing and being rescued by crew.
Another was plucked from the water by a passing yacht, after he was swept out to sea in strong flood tides.
Remarkably, both men escaped uninjured - and were later seen carrying their deflated dinghy back to their car, according to coastguard officials.
The two men had launched their 8ft grey dinghy from Middle Path at Sandbanks when strong tides forced them towards the Bramble Bush Bay ferry, which crosses the entrance to Poole Harbour between Sandbanks and Shell Bay, Studland.
Passengers aboard the ferry made several 999 calls to the Portland coastguard, who dispatched lifeboats to rescue the men.
Gavin McGuiness, a helmsmen aboard the Sandbanks ferry, said the two men were “extremely lucky” to escape uninjured.
“Fortunately for the man swept under the ferry his lifejacket did not inflate. It brought back memories of a previous shout in 2001, where a lady was swept under the ferry in similar circumstances,” he told the Bournemouth Echo.
Maddy Davey, Portland Coastguard watch manager, added: "The two men were very unfortunate that their boat broke down where and when it did.”
In May 2012, a woman was left clinging on to the side of the ferry after her boat collided with the ferry in similar circumstances.
The Sandbanks ferry is running a normal service today.