Yachtsman plucked from stormy seas
10:21am Thursday 14th June 2012 in In Port
A YACHTSMAN had to be plucked from his vessel in stormy seas off Cornwall after it was overcome by waves.
The drama began at 7.25am last Thursday when the Falmouth Coastguard picked up a signal from a UK registered Personal Locator Beacon that was transmitting 40 miles south of the Lizard.
Falmouth Coastguard telephoned the registered contact details for the beacon and spoke to a woman who confirmed that her son had set off from Plymouth the week before on a 22-foot sailing vessel as part of the ‘Jester Challenge’ to sail to the Azores.
The coastguard issued a Mayday relay message to ask for assistance from vessels in the area, which was responded to by two vessels, the ‘Grace II’ and the ‘Baltic Advance’.
Falmouth Coastguard also sent the Rescue Helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to the location of the beacon, along with requesting the launch of the Lizard RNLI Lifeboat. A French Customs Aircraft that was also in the area agreed to assist in the search. The weather on scene was particularly poor, with the lifeboat battling through force 9 strong gales and very rough seas to reach the yachtsman in distress.
At 9.04 am the Grace II confirmed they had spotted the yacht, with the Baltic Advance, French aircraft and Royal Navy helicopter all arriving minutes later.
The crew on board the helicopter were able to talk to the yachtsman over VHF radio, and he confirmed that he wanted to be taken off the vessel, which was being overcome by the rough seas and high waves.
He was then taken to RNAS Culdrose, where he is now being looked after by the Mission to Seafarers. The vessel has been abandoned.
Terry Collins, Watch Manager, Falmouth Coastguard said: "The single handed sailor, who had sailed from his home in Jersey to Plymouth before setting off to join the sailing challenge to the Azores, set off his Personal Locator Beacon as his yacht was being overcome by the incredibly rough seas.
“The conditions on scene today are not suitable for a small craft such as this and we do advise anyone setting out on the water take heed of weather forecasts and do not make journeys in conditions unsuitable for their vessel.
“The locator beacon was crucial in the ability to rescue this person, as it was the only form of distress received ashore.
“For offshore voyages leisure sailors are recommended to carry a satellite form of communication.”