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3 November 2013, 09:44
A lifeboat crew's had to rescue a drunk man who tried to swim across a river on the Isle of Wight.
The 52-year-old tried to cross the River Medina at Cowest because the chain ferry had stopped running for the night.
The lifeboat was launched shortly before 2am on Saturday 2 November after the alarm was raised by the man's daughter. She and her father had intended to take the floating bridge from Cowes to East Cowes, only to find it had stopped for the night. The father then decided to swim to the other bank, but the daughter had no indication that he had succeeded.
The lifeboat, with Neil Archer at the helm, was soon on the scene, and with the aid of its powerful searchlights began a thorough search.
"We firstly search the area of the chain ferry without success, and spread further along the banks," said crewman Will King.
"Then someone on the Cowes shore said they thought they heard vague moaning noises and cries for help from further down-river on the east bank. We found no-one underneath the Red Funnel vehicle jetty; then Chris Cockroft and myself heard cries coming from Venture Quay.
"There 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 - sorry for the inconvenience'. He apparently had managed to cling to the quay jetty and pull himself up. "
Will, who is a hospital doctor, tried to warm him up as the lifeboat rushed him to Trinity Landing at Cowes, There shore-based coastguards were waiting to assist in his transfer to a waiting ambulance and take him to St Mary's Hospital, Newport.
"He was very lucky there was only a half-knot ebb tide flowing in the river at the time," said Will. "Anything stronger and he would have been pushed out to sea and we would have just 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."