While on passage from Yarmouth (IOW) to Southampton, my sailing boat became caught by a fishing pot line.
In an area known to contain ‘pot floats’ the Mate and I were keeping a good lookout for pot markers. One marked by a ‘flagless pole’ had been noted but generally the area seemed to be free of floats. We were proceeding at about 5.6 knots under power and autopilot when I saw a small white fender in the water just dead ahead. (I first saw it through the pulpit, so it must have been about 3 to 4 metres ahead of our bow). I immediately selected neutral to stop the prop, but there was no time to change heading. I allowed the boat to stop and it became apparent that we had fouled the line. At this point I dropped anchor, switched on the anchor light, stopped the engine and then checked that I could rotate the prop shaft by hand, indicating that the rope was not around the propeller. I informed Southampton VTS of our position, which was now just inside the Thorn Channel, and told them that I would keep them informed. I could see the line out on the port quarter, so used my dinghy grapnel anchor to haul the line to the surface, by which time I had been joined by several yachts with whom we had been travelling in company. Having hauled in sufficient line to provide slack, I attached the end nearest the boat to my aft pulpit and cut the seaward end of the 20mm line free using a diver’s knife kept in the cockpit. A friend launched his dinghy and pulled the fender clear of my rudder and we were now free. Having checked the steering for full and free movement and the engine in ahead and astern, we weighed anchor, extinguished our anchor light, informed VTS and continued to Southampton.
Whilst this report initially appears similar to many we receive, there is an interesting development. We have learned that the Harbour Authority has authorised its craft to remove fishing gear that has been improperly marked or laid. Other Authorities may wish to consider similar action.