Wrong place, wrong time

I was having problems with my engine fuel system so I motored out to Southampton Water to try and diagnose the fault. Southampton Water is a length of water stretching from Southampton up to just short of the Isle of Wight (the Solent). It is deep in the middle where all the shipping goes in and out of Southampton. On the West side is the Oil Refinery and various industry but on the East side it is shallower and relatively unused. So I was motoring up and down the East side to test my fuel system. Unbenownst to me, a seaplane was using this same strip of water that day to take Southampton City notables out and back on joy rides. As I was calmly motoring along the East bank I suddenly saw a sea plane coming in to land in the water in front of me but fortunately it also saw me and flew up again without landing.

It had presumably been doing this all day but having seen me in it's "landing strip" then decided to land straight across the relatively narrow strip of water from West to East so as to be right angles to me and land behind my path.

As it landed on the sea and came towards the East bank it suddenly realised it was running out of water space and going too fast. So it did a tight turn to avoid land but overdid it and it's wing tip hit the water which then caused the plane to dip further and start to slowly sink. It sent out a mayday and I kept back as about 3 fast motor boats made for it to rescue the passengers. A lady coastguard then came on the radio in an attempt to control things as a coastguard helicopter approached and then hovered over the sea plane causing absolute chaos as it's rotors sent spray over the rescue boats and the seaplane and it created so much noise that no one could hear voices on their radios. The coastguard lady was now shouting instructions histerically over the radio and finally ordered the helicopter away from the scene. The seaplane's fuselage was now pretty full of water but it did not sink and passengers had crawled on to the wings from which the motor boats rescued them.

Feeling a little responsible I sneaked away, went back to my marina and drove home. Watching BBC South Today TV that evening I was amazed to hear that 2 people (including an ex mayor of Southampton) had been trapped in the cabin of the seaplane and drowned. The television footage showed my boat in the background.The reason for the accident was given as something plausible and not the seaplane's pilot's fault. I knew this to be wrong and was tempted to report that it had been the pilot's error of judgement that caused the disaster but as I was a little complicit in it all I chose to keep out of it.

It was amazing that 2 people died, close to a populated shore with motor boats close at hand.