A merchant vessel spotted the 8-man emergency raft and reported the sighting to Solent Coastguard, prompting the volunteer lifeboat crew to be paged to launch at around 05:35.
In heavy swells of 3 to 4 metres at times, the inshore lifeboat made best speed to the South East of Ventnor before eventually locating the orange raft South of St Catherine’s Point. The search efforts were assisted by the Coastguard’s specialist computer programme that calculates possible locations based on tide, wind and other factors.
At the time of launching it was known that a vessel had lost a life raft off The Needles earlier this week, but unable to ascertain if it was the same one, Solent Coastguard and Sandown & Shanklin Independent Lifeboat treated the incident as if life was at risk. It has since been confirmed that it is the same life raft.
The life raft was recovered onto the lifeboat and taken back to the boathouse in Sandown, arriving shortly before 08:00.