A teenage sailor, stranded after his boat capsized, was lucky to be found by a lifeboat crew as he tried to swim to safety late last night.
The 18-year-old's boat had capsized and dismasted off Mevagissey, throwing him into the sea. With his telephone affected by the water and only allowing him to post on Facebook, the sailor posted a message to say he was stranded.
Brixham Coastguard was contacted just before 11pm last night by police who’d taken a call from the teenager’s mum. She said he had posted on Facebook saying he was in trouble on his Laser sailing dinghy.
Mevagissey and St. Austell Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Fowey RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats, police and the ambulance service were sent to the area.
The Coastguard asked Fowey lifeboats to launch just after 11pm. With the all-weather lifeboat searching the area towards Portmellon, the crew on the inshore lifeboat headed out to search towards Pentewan.
The teenager, who was not wearing a lifejacket, was found approximately half a mile south east of Black Head. He was pulled on board the lifeboat and taken back to Fowey. He was then transferred to Treliske hospital to be checked over.
Christian Phelps, volunteer crew member onboard Fowey inshore lifeboat said: 'We were searching the area when our search light picked up what we thought was a lobster pot marker. When we looked again, it started waving and we realised it was the young lad. He was incredibly lucky that we found him and we're delighted that we were in the right place at the right time and that this rescue had a happy outcome.'
The young sailor said he'd been treading water for about two hours.
The volunteers on the inshore lifeboat hauled the sailor on board before transferring him to the all-weather lifeboat, which took him back to the station.
Christian added: 'We'd advise anyone heading out to sea to take some simple safety steps; carry a means to call for help, wear a lifejacket, tell someone where you're going and check the weather and tides.'
Andy Huber, Watch Manager at Brixham Coastguard, said: “This young man was extremely lucky to be found when he was. He told rescuers that his mobile phone had got wet and he couldn’t make a 999 call to the Coastguard. However, he did manage to post something on Facebook. He also told lifeboat crews he had been in the water for two hours and was trying to swim back to shore, even though he did not have a buoyancy aid or lifejacket on.
“We always recommend that if you’re heading out on the water that you are well equipped with the necessary communications and safety equipment. Carry a VHF radio with you, a charged mobile phone in a waterproof bag, distress flares and an emergency beacon. These will all help you alert the Coastguard if you’re in trouble, and a much more reliable way than posting for help on social media.”