A MAN had a lucky escape after being swept under the Sandbanks chain ferry after his dinghy suffered engine failure on Friday evening.

The drama took place around 7.20pm when an 8ft dinghy with two people on board got into trouble and both occupants ended up in the water.

They had launched from Middle Path at Sandbanks when they got caught out by an extremely strong tide and their craft was swept towards the Bramble Bush Bay ferry.

It was on the north side and the boat got jammed into the chains and ramp.

One of the men grabbed the lifeline on the chain ferry and was hauled aboard by people on the ferry while the other was swept under the vessel.

Several horrified onlookers called 999, said Portland Coastguard, however both Poole lifeboats were already out on other calls and both responded.

The man who was swept away was rescued by people on a 38ft yacht which was passing North Haven.

“With the strong flood tide and challenging conditions, they were extremely lucky,” said volunteer helmsman Gavin McGuiness.

Poole’s inshore lifeboat volunteer crew transferred the man from the yacht. He was shaken by his experience but unhurt and they landed him at North Haven steps. The man on the ferry was also checked out and was uninjured.

The dinghy was stuck fast under the ferry preventing it from moving and the lifeboat crew tried to tow it free but it would not move.

As they used a spike to try and prise it away, it washed itself free and was recovered from the south side.

Gavin added: “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.”

In 2001 a four-man yacht drifted into the chain ferry, capsized and was drawn underneath by the tide. A 72-year-old grandmother on board survived unscathed after going right under the ferry.