A VOLUNTEER lifeboat crew in Hampshire rushed to help a cruiser after it issued a mayday distress call yesterday.

The crew from Gosport were called to assist a 34-foot motor cruiser after people on board spotted plumes of smoke coming from the engine compartment.

The lifeboat crew, based in Stokes Bay, were called to the scene close to Cowes harbour entrance by the UK Coastguard at midday.

Working alongside Hamble independent lifeboat, which had also been called, the Gosport crew arrived on the scene within 10 minutes of the mayday call being made.

Gosport lifeboat coxswain Peter Brown said: “The mayday distress call had reported a possible fire onboard after the crew heard a loud noise from the engine and saw smoke emitting from the port side of the cruiser.

“When we arrived at the scene the four people onboard had been evacuated to passing boat, the Misbehaving, that had also heard their distress call. They remained onboard until they reached Venture Quay, Cowes.”

Both lifeboat crews worked together to ensure there was no obvious signs of a fire onboard before Gosport lifeboat took the stricken vessel undertow to Venture Quay.

Hamble lifeboat acted as escort and ensured other vessels remained clear.

At Venture Quay, the fire brigade investigated the cause of the initial cloud of smoke and confirmed there was no further risk.

The four people that had been aboard the vessel were checked for smoke inhalation and none required any medical treatment.

On their way back from the incident the crew from Gosport also spotted a man in the water in the middle of the Solent.

Coxswain Peter Brown said: “He was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and an inflated lifejacket and had only been in the water a matter of minutes, but was already starting to feel cold. His brightly coloured lifejacket made him easy to spot even though we were half a mile away.

“We recovered him into the lifeboat and carried out a medical assessment to ensure he had no other injuries or hadn’t swallowed any seawater. He said he had fallen in while transferring from his RIB to a second vessel which couldn’t react quickly enough because it was at anchor.”

Gosport lifeboat crew transferred him back on to his vessel and gave him advice about Secondary Drowning, a condition that can happen even after a brief immersion and ingestion of just a small amount of seawater.