THE quick-thinking actions of a beach-goer helped in the rescue of three teenage girls after their boat got into trouble off the coast of Chichester yesterday.
Michael Todd was relaxing on the beach at Church Norton when he spotted the upturned hull of a dinghy a mile out to sea through binoculars and what appeared to be a person sat on top of it at around 3.30pm.
“I watched for about 20 minutes to see if the person was able to get the boat back up and when it became apparent they couldn’t I rang 999,” said Michael, from Chichester.
“Within a few minutes a rescue helicopter flew straight by which was obviously on another job but then must have got the call because it double backed and from the beach I directed it to where the boat was.”
The girls were picked up by a safety boat from Bognor Sailing Club, where they are thought to be members, while the Solent Coastguard helicopter hovered overhead, and RNLI volunteers at Selsey Lifeboat Station also attended and towed the dinghy to shore.
The girls were unharmed and Bognor Sailing Club later retrieved the dinghy from Selsey Lifeboats.
Michael added: “I’m a sailing man myself so that’s how I knew the boat was in trouble, it was a windy day so that’s probably why they couldn’t get the boat back up.
“They were quite far out to sea, it was a long way to swim and there weren’t any other boats around them so I’m not sure what would have happened to them if they hadn’t been rescued.”